Himbury History

Reginald William Hayward Himbury

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Reginald William Hayward Himbury 1900 -

Birth= 1900 Byfleet, Surry





Reginald William Hayward Himbury, the eldest son of Sir William Henry Himbury and Laura Annie Eversden, was born in Byfleet in Surrey on 21st March 1900.

I know nothing of Reginald's childhood, except that his father must have been away quite a lot, he traveled all over the world for the British Cotton Growing Association, but Reginald became a merchant seaman and was working on Clan ships as a midshipman by the time he was fifteen.

On Sunday January 16th 1916, he was working on the British steamer Clan Mactavish when it was attacked by the German raider “Moewe” at 4.30 in the morning, about 100 miles south of Madeira.

According to a report in the New York Times on March 4th 1916, the Moewe signaled to the Clan MacTavish to stop, but the Captain of the British ship immediately ordered his engineers to give full speed ahead, but signaled back to the German ship that he had stopped. This resulted in the German ship stopping and gave the Clan Mactavish a chance to get away. However the Germans were not impressed at the tactics and started to fire at the Clan Mactavish.. The Clan Mactavish was completley outclassed having only one 6 pound gun on board, but two ex naval ratings on board took charge of the gun and fired back aided in their brave fight by midshipman Reginald Himbury who, at only fifteen years of age, kept them supplied with ammunition. The report goes on to say that the Germans were only two hundred yards away, but nearly all of their shots missed with only four actually striking their target. One shot hit the Clan MacTavish's engine room and killed seventeen men and wounded another five. Another hit below the water line in No 5 hold and at that point the British ship was so badly damaged that it was pointless to go on fighting. When the Moewe's commander boarded the British ship he asked Captain Oliver why he had fired on them to which the British Captain replied “ I wanted to get away, of course, and I fired to protect my ship. My Government put a gun aboard, and I used it. It wasn't put there for ornament.”

The crew of the Clan MacTavish were taken on board the Moewe and most were later released at Teneriffe where they were able to board the liner Athenic bound for Tilbury arriving on March 3rd. But the captain, William N Oliver and the gun crew, David McAngus and William Rees were interned as prisoners of war.

I only learnt about the above story because I found an antique military print of the encounter between the Moewe and the Clan MacTavish and the text underneath reads as follows:-


On Sunday January 16th, 1916 the British ship “Clan Mactavish” was attacked by the German raider “Moewe,” sighted with the liner “Appam” about 100 miles south of Madeira. The upper works of the “Clan Mactavish” were swept away by the fire of the “Moewe,” and while shells were screaming past their heads, two ex-naval gunners, who were served with ammunition by a plucky fifteen-year old midshipman, Mr.Reginald Himbury, gallantly returned the enemy's fire with the only gun, a six-pounder. The “Clan Mactavish” was, naturally, outclassed, but her gunners had scored some hits on the “Moewe” when a shot struck their ship below the water-line and she began to sink.









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