Joseph Secret Beales

#33412, b. March 1880, d. 1 January 1915

Individual's Timeline

Birth RegMarch 1880Joseph Secret Beales1
Marr RegJune 1914Joseph Secret Beales2
Death1 January 1915Joseph Secret Beales

Primary events

  • Birth Reg: Joseph's birth was registered in the quarter ended in March 1880 in the Great Yarmouth registration district.1
  • Marr Reg: The marriage of Joseph and Annie Elizabeth Boxall was registered in the quarter ended June 1914 in the Southwark registration district.2
  • Death: Joseph died on 1 January 1915 (Aged 34 years and 10 months, worked back from recorded birth date).

Census details

Some aspects of Joseph Secret Beales's life. This appeared on an auction site - WW1 Memorial Plaque to Joseph Secret Beales very fine. He was killed in action as a Petty Officer on the battleship HMS Formidable which was sunk by 2 torpedoes from U-24 on 1st January 1915 with the loss of 547 of her crew of 780. (R)

Lot: 96
Category: British Medals / World War I
Estimated Price: £50

Military Career

Records show that Joseph Secret Beales served in the armed forces. Listed in 1911 census as a petty officer 2nd class in the Royal Navy on the St George, a depot ship for 3rd Flotilla, Home Fleet out of Grimsby. He died on the Hms Formidable 1st Jan 1915, and his body was not recovered.

The Formidable was a dreadnaught battle cruiser, launched in 1898. She was sunk by a submarine whilst on exercises out of Sheerness.

Wiki says - Under the command of Vice-Admiral Commanding, Channel Fleet, Sir Lewis Bayly, the 5th Battle Squadron spent 31 December participating in gunnery exercises off the Isle of Portland, supported by the light cruisers Topaze and Diamond. After the exercises, that night the fleet remained at sea on patrol even though submarine activity had been reported in the area. With rough sea conditions and the wind increasing, submarine attacks would have been difficult to carry out and so were not thought to be a significant threat. Formidable was steaming at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) at the rear of the squadron off Portland Bill just 20 nmi (37 km; 23 mi) from Start Point, when at 02:20 on 1 January 1915 a torpedo from U-24[6] struck the number one boiler port side.[7] It was thought that she might be saved by reaching the coast but by about 02:40 she had taken a list of 20° to starboard and the Captain Noel Loxley gave the order to abandon ship. Darkness and worsening weather made it difficult to get the men and boats over the side; some small boats were thrown into the water upside down.[5]

At about 03:05, Formidable was struck by a second torpedo on the starboard side. Amidst a 30 ft (9.1 m) swell the pinnaces and launch along with other boats (one of which capsized soon after) were launched and the two light cruisers came alongside and managed to pick up 80 men in the deteriorating weather. By 04:45, she seemed in imminent danger of capsizing and a few minutes later she rolled over onto many of the men in the water and sank quickly. Captain Loxley remained on the bridge along with his Fox terrier Bruce,[8] calmly overseeing the evacuation of the ship.[5]

In rough seas near Berry Head, the crew of a Brixham trawler Provident BM291, Skipper William Pillar, First Hand William Carter, Second Hand John Clarke and Apprentice Daniel Taylor (né Ferguson), picked up the men from one pinnace before it sank, saving 71 members of the crew.[9] The second pinnace took off another 70 men, of which 48 were brought ashore alive after it was eventually spotted from the shore the following night, 22 hours after the sinking.[1][7][8] The loss of life of Formidable was 35 officers (including Captain Loxley) and 512 men from a complement of 780.[1] The body of Captain Loxley's dog Bruce, a war dog washed ashore and was buried in a marked grave in Abbotsbury Gardens in Dorset.

Formidable was the third British battleship to be sunk and the second to be sunk by enemy action, during the First World War.

Family of Joseph Secret Beales and Annie Elizabeth Boxall


  1. Free UK BDM index from 1837, online, BEALES      Joseph Secret            Yarmouth      4b     7.
  2. Free UK BDM index from 1837, online, Beales      Joseph S      Boxall      Southwark      1d     244     
    Boxall      Annie E      Beales      Southwark      1d     244.
  3. Find my past web sites, online or, First name(s)      Joseph Secret
    Last name      Beales
    Birth year      1879
    Birth day      16
    Birth month      Dec
    Birth town      Gt. Yarmouth
    Birth county      Norfolk
    Death year      1915
    Death date      01/01/1915
    Service number      190777. (CH)
    Rating      P.O.
    Service      R.N.
    Ship/unit      Hms Formidable
    Cause of death      Killed or died as a direct result of enemy action.
    Cemetery      Body not recovered for burial
    Location of grave      Not recorded
    Relatives notified      Widow. Annie Elizabeth, 88, Carter Street, Walworth Rd., London, S.E.
    Category      Military, armed forces & conflict
    Subcategory      First World War
    Collections from      Great Britain.