Captain Cecil Irby Prowse RN lost his life aged 49 in command of HMS Queen Mary
Cecil Prowse was born in Somerset. He was promoted to the rank of Captain in June 1907 and appointed Captain of HMS Queen Mary in October 1914. The Commander of the ship, William James, gave an unflattering portrait of Prowse: “….. He was one of the old-fashioned, rigid types. In the seventeen months I served him as Commander, he never once unbent. He found himself in a strange atmosphere. Our numerous reforms did not arouse his interest, let alone his enthusiasm. I believe he disliked them all and that the general air of well-being and high state of discipline in some subtle way irritated him because he felt that our success should not have been possible using methods with which he had no sympathy……”.
Prowse’s younger brother Brigadier General Charles Prowse, was killed in July 1916 on the first day of the battle of the Somme. The brothers are remembered on the Prowse window at St John the Baptist Parish Church, Yeovil.
The Queen Mary was hit twice by the battlecruiser Derfflinger during the early part of the battle and her magazines exploded shortly afterwards, sinking the ship. 1,266 crewmen were lost. Eighteen survivors were picked up by HMS Lurel, HMS Petard and HMS Tipperary and two by German ships.