John Lewis Bunker

John was the second youngest of six children of James Bunker (agricultural labourer) and was born in Bigbury on 6 August 1871.

His wife, Ellen Ferris Bunker, was a local girl born in Modbury in 1870 (d. 5th May 1960) and they had two sons, John Lewis (1898- 30th October 1926) and Harry Samuel (1910-10th October 1930); and three daughters, Dulcie Ellen(b. 1903), Dora May (b. 1905) and Phyllis (b. 1907). All were born in Modbury and lived at 8 Poundwell Street, Modbury.

After working as a farm labourer, he joined RN as an Ordinary Seaman on 6th August 1889 on a 12 year engagement.

Serving on a range of ships, he achieved the rank of Petty Officer on 1st October 1897. In April 1915 he was a Chief Petty Officer on HMS Goliath deployed to the Dardanelle’s, where she bombarded Cape Helles in support of the landings there, and was damaged by Turkish gun fire on the 28th April and 2nd May.

On the night of 12-13 May, HMS Goliath and HMS Cornwallis were chosen to support French troops on the right of the Allied line. The Goliath anchored off Morto Bay.

On the same night, Lieutenant-Commander Firle, a German officer serving with the Turkish fleet, obtained permission to take the destroyer Muavenet-I-Miliet (built in 1909, 600 tons, top speed 33 knots, armed with three torpedo tubes,) through the Straits to attack the Allied battleships. Aided by fog, he got within torpedo range of the Goliath before he was spotted and challenged. He fired three torpedoes, and then escaped to safety.

The first torpedo hit the Goliath by her forward 12in turret. She then began to list to port. The second torpedo hit by the forward funnel.

The ship continued to turn over, and was nearly on her beam ends when the third torpedo hit near her aft 12in turret. She then turned turtle, floated upside down for a couple of minutes and then sank bows first. Of the 750 men then serving on her, 570 were lost.


John died at Galipoli on 13th May 1915, aged 47. He was buried at sea and is listed on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.

Born:6th August 1871
Where Born:Bigbury
Address:8 Poundwell St, Modbury
Marital Status:Married
OccupationFarm Labourer
Next of Kin:Second youngest of six children of James Bunker (agricultural labourer) and husband of Ellen Ferris Bunker (born Modbury 1870 (d. 5th May 1960).
Remarks:5ft 4 ins with brown hair, grey eyes and ruddy complexion
Service:Royal Navy
Service Number:143536
RankChief Petty Officer
UnitHMS Goliath
Died On:13th May 1915
Where Buried:At sea
Memorial:Plymouth Naval Memorial. Ref 5
RemarksModbury School Oct 89 -Apr 93