Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Born the 4th child of a sawyer and his wife, Job and Harriett Pledge, in Dorking, Surrey, Bruce Sydney Pledge left home to join the navy at the age of 16 years in 1898. He spent the rest of his life in the navy, rising through the ranks from Able Seamen in 1901 to Petty Officer in 1917.

HMS Albacore after hitting a mine
[Image: Imperial War Museum]

In the years immediately before the outbreak of war Bruce Pledge transferred to HMS Vernon for training aboard the Torpedo School Ship, then moored in Fountain Lake, north of the Dockyard. It was probably during this time that he met and married his wife Edith and settled into a home at 51 Hanover Street, Portsea.
After the outbreak of war Pledge served aboard the Destroyer HMS Albacore, mostly in the North Sea. On 9th March 1917 the ship hit a mine laid by U-boat UC44 off Kirkwall. She was badly damaged but did not sink (see photo right). There were 17 casualties aboard, one of whom was Petty Officer Bruce Pledge.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission list Petty Officer Bruce Sidney Pledge (192918), Royal Navy, serving on HMS Albacore, died 09/03/1917. Remembered on the Chatham Naval Memorial (Panel 21).
Bruce Pledge is also remembered on the St. George's Church WW1 memorial and the Cenotaph. He is listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War' Section X, p. 181 which mistakenly described HMS Albacore as a Motor Torpedo Boat and also declared it sunk.
Tim Backhouse
December 2013