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Memorials & Monuments
on the Isle of Wight
- Biography -
- Richard Henry Buckett -

Unknown person Name : Richard Henry Buckett

Son of Andrew Buckett and Elizabeth Buckett (née Thearll) of Ningwood
Born : 1866, Calbourne
  Census information :

1871 : Andrew and Elizabeth Buckett, with family including Richard, recorded at Ningwood Common, Shalfleet

1881 : not found

1891 : not found

1901 : Emily Jane Buckett, Effie Ada Buckett and Olive Una Buckett recorded at Marsh Farm, Calbourne (Husband a Mariner at sea)

1911 : Emily Jane Buckett and Effie Ada Buckett recorded at 30 Shirley Park Road, Southampton

  Marriage Details :

Spouse : Emily Jane Buckett (née Griffiths) The Anchorage, Broughton, Stockbridge, Hampshire.
Married : 1894, Christ Church, Sandown, Isle of Wight
Children : Effie Ada Margaret Victoria, born 1897; Olive Una Louise, born 1901 (died aged 4 mths)
  Service Details :

Assistant Steward 919848 Richard Henry Buckett, H.M.S. "Stephen Furness", Mercantile Marine Reserve. Awarded D.S.M.

Casualty Details :

Died : 13 December 1917, at sea, aged 51

Commemorated at : Plymouth Naval Memorial

CWGC Record
  Commemorated on these Memorials :

Richard Henry Buckett is not commemorated on any Isle of Wight Memorials
  Photo Gallery :

There are no photographs associated with this entry
  Documents and Newspaper cuttings :

D.S.M. London Gazette 22 June 1916.

The original recommendation states:

‘Officer’s Steward Richard Henry Buckett behaved with great coolness and assisted wounded when the ship was sinking.’

The liner Alcantara was requisitioned by the Admiralty soon after the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914 and was converted into an auxiliary cruiser. She subsequently joined the 10th Cruiser Squadron and was placed under the command of Captain T. E. Wardle, her chief duty being patrol work between Scapa Flow and the coast of Norway.

At about midday on 28 February 1916, in a position of 60 miles E. of the North of the Shetlands, the Alcantara was due to rendezvous with her relief ship, the Andes, when a wireless message instructed her to remain thereabouts and keep a sharp lookout for a suspicious steamship coming out of the Skagerrak. But it was not until about 8.45 a.m. on the following morning that Captain Wardle spotted smoke on the horizon on his port beam. During the course of making passage to this unidentified steamship, he received a wireless warning from the Andes that this was in all probability the vessel he was seeking, so Wardle signalled to the latter to stop, and fired two rounds of blank ammunition. By this stage the two ships had approached to within 1,000 yards of each other, the Alcantara coming up astern and lowering a boarding boat. At that moment, however, the “stranger” - which had Norwegian colours painted on her side and the name Rena-Tonsberg - dropped her bulwarks and ran out her guns. She was, infact, the enemy raider Greif, and the intense nature of the ensuing 20 minute duel is best described in Deeds That Thrill The Empire:

‘From the very first the British gunners got home on the enemy. His bridge was carried away at the first broadside, and then, systematically, our guns searched yard by yard along the upper works of the enemy, seeking out the wireless room from which were emanating the meaningless jargons that “jammed” the Alcantara’s wireless. This had been set to work at once to call up assistance - a proper fighting precaution in any event, but doubly so in this case, seeing that it was quickly apparent the Greif carried considerably heavier ordnance than her own. Before long the enemy’s wireless was smashed, and our guns promptly turned themselves upon the hull and water-line of their opponent. In a few minutes the Greif had a great fire blazing aft; a few more, and she began to settle down by the stern; and as the Alcantara’s guns methodically and relentlessly searched her from stem to stern her return fire grew more and more feeble until, after about fifteen minutes’ fighting, it died away almost entirely. On paper, judging by the difference between the armaments, the Alcantara ought to have been blown out of the water by this time; but, although she was hit frequently, the actual damage she sustained was almost negligible. The Greif was already a beaten and doomed craft when other vessels came up in answer to Alcantara’s wireless. The first to arrive was the Andes, Captain George B.W. Young (another converted unit of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Line), and a few rounds from her apparently completed the enemy’s discomfort. Not long after, a “pukka” cruiser appeared on the scene; but it is reported that, seeing the Alcantara had already made a hopeless mess of her opponent, this cruiser clicked out the signal “Your Bird” and went about her other business!

But the fight was not yet over. The Greif had again begun to blaze away with the one or two guns that remained intact when there happened one of those misfortunes that are apt to occur to the most efficiently handled ships. An unlucky shot carried away the Alcantara’s steering-gear, and her captain was immediately robbed of the weapon upon which he had chiefly depended for the destruction of his enemy - his seamanship. The Alcantara, though nearly all her guns were intact, became unmanageable, and for the first time in the action she was swung round by the seas into such a position that her full broadside was exposed to the enemy. There had, too, been no half-measures in fitting out the Greif for her work. She carried not only a powerful equipment of guns, but also torpedo tubes, and, although she was fast settling down in the water, she was able to bring them to bear now on a most favourable target - a big ship lying broadside on with disabled steering-gear. The first two torpedoes that were fired missed - in spite of the short range. The third caught the Alcantara squarely. Whereby it happened that after some twenty minutes of the most fierce and closely contested fighting the naval campaign had seen, the two principal combatants found themselves making headway towards the bottom in company. The Greif was the first to go. It is believed that, like the Moewe, she carried a big cargo of mines to be strewed where they would be most likely to entrap our warships. However that may be, she blew up with a tremendous explosion and went to the bottom, just a few minutes before the mortally injured Alcantara turned over on her side to find a resting place within a few hundred yards of her ... Of the 321 officers and men with which the Greif entered the fight, five officers and 115 men were rescued from the sea and made prisoners by the British destroyers that came upon the scene. The remaining 201 went to the bottom with their ship. The Alcantara’s loss amounted to five officers and 69 men, of whom nearly all were killed by the final torpedo.’

Richard Henry Buckett, who was among the survivors and awarded the D.S.M. for gallantly assisting the wounded, was subsequently lost in the armed boarding ship Stephen Furness, when that vessel was torpedoed in the Irish Channel on 21 December 1917 - she went down with the loss of six officers and 95 ratings. A native of Ningwood on the Isle of Wight, he was 51 years of age and left a widow, Emily Jane Buckett.

The DSM Medal awarded to R H Buckett was sold at auction in Sep 2005 for £1600.

IWCP 29 Dec 1917 : R H Buckett
From the Isle of Wight County Press 29 Dec 1917

  Acknowledgments :

  Links :

Dix Noonan Webb auction catalogue entry
  Page status :
Page last updated : 8 September 2010


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