Paymaster - Lieutenant Louis NEEDHAM


Regiment/Service:
Royal Naval Reserve
Unit:
H.M.S. Godetia.
Flagship of 1st/2nd Fleet-Sweeping Flotillas
(Formerly: Liverpool Scottish Regiment?)
Service Number:
n/k
Date of Death:
20 December 1918 - Died
Age:
29
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
2246
Awards:
D. S. C.

Personal History:

Louis was born 4th February 1889 at Priestcliffe, Derbyshire, the son of Isaac Broome (Insurance Agent) and Ellen Needham, of 25 Dale Road, Buxton. He had an older brother, George Broome, two younger sisters, Mary Anne and Ellen, and a younger brother, James Nall. (1901 Census RG 13/3269)

He attended Buxton College before entering into a career in banking. In the 1911 Census (RG 14/21241) Louis is shown employed as a "Bank Clerk". This was with the Manchester and County Bank, New Mills, where he was in charge of the Marple Branch.
Louis was a chorister at St Mary's Church, Buxton, and a member of the Buxton Cricket Club. He also assisted his brother, George, in the Secretaryship to the Vicar and Wardens of the Buxton Parish. According to Probate Records at the time of his death (see below) Louis' home address was 55 King Street, Manchester. His estate amounted to 819 12s. 4d. (819.62) - a relative value of 34,840.00 today [2014]. Louis had planned to marry in Edinburgh in January 1919, a month after he died.

Military History:
'The Buxton Advertiser' (27th April 1918), reported that Louis had been Gazetted on 16th April 1918 in receipt of D.S.C. in recognition of his services in mine sweeping operations between the 1st April and 31st December, 1917 (London Gazette). It also noted that for ".. the last three years (he) had been engaged on mine sweeping operations on the flagship of the minesweepers with the Grand Fleet in the North Sea."

The same article confirmed that Louis had originally joined the Liverpool Scottish Regiment, in September 1914 [see photo above], and trained in Liverpool, Edinburgh, Tunbridge Wells and Blackpool. However, on the 13th March 1915 he was Commissioned into the Royal Navy. Louis undertook further training at the Navigation School, Portsmouth and in Glasgow, sailing in May 1915.

For the last three years of his life he had been continuously engaged on mine sweeping
activities on HMS Godetia [pictured right], an Arabian Class Ship, flagship of the 1st
Minesweeping Flotilla, attached to the Grand Fleet in the North Sea. In April 1918 Louis
was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and was, by then, Paymaster for the
Flotilla.

His gravestone states that he "Died on active service", although the Naval History casualty
page lists his cause of death as "illness".  He succumbed to pneumonia, following influenza
after being taken from his ship on Sunday  night, 15th December, to hospital in Edinburgh.
It seemed at first that he would recover, but on Wednesday, 18th, his parents were informed
that he was seriously ill and they travelled immediately to Edinburgh. At first they found Louis
cheerful, but the following day he took a turn for the worst and died the following day. Probate
Records show that Louis died at the Royal Naval Hospital, Granton, Edinburgh.

Louis' funeral service at St Mary's Church on Christmas Eve 1918 was fully reported in
'The Buxton Advertiser' of 28th December 1918. Rev. Urling Smith opened the Service with
the hymn 'I Know That My Redeemer Lives' and ".. there were few dry eyes". In addition to
Rev. Smith it seems the Clergy of all Buxton's churches were in attendance. The bearers
were six Canadian soldiers and other Canadians formed a guard of honour, prior to
internment at Buxton Cemetery.

The coffin was placed on a gun carriage and Chopin's 'Funeral March' played by the CDD
Band on the way to the Cemetery. Just as the cortege arrived at the Cemetery gates a
heavy snowstorm came on and the burial took place in a blinding blizzard. At the
conclusion of the graveside service a volley was fired and the 'Last Post' played. He does
not have a CWGC headstone, and his mother and father were later buried with him

A friend wrote to the 'Advertiser':

"Poor old Louis, I, as a stranger to Buxton, was attracted to him by his striking personality,
his fine spirit and sportsmanship. ... It was in the very days of the War when I casually ran
across him on Disley platform. 'Well' says he, 'I can't stand being here any longer, I'm off
tomorrow - to join up'. And when peace came, and his friends knew he had come through
safely, how pleased both he and they must have exercised their imaginations with thoughts
of the bright days to come on the Cricket Field he loved so well. I'll wager he 'carried his bat
out' - a sport to the finish; and whilst we shall see him no more he will have an affectionate
place in our hearts."

Sources:
· The Buxton Advertiser, 27 April 1918 and 28 December 1918

Link to CWGC Record
The Distinguished Service Cross
Louis Needham grave in Buxton Cemetery
Lt. Needham's grave inscription
The Needham family grave
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