Bramber-born First World War hero

Isaac on the HMS Calypso, second from right
Isaac on the HMS Calypso, second from right

Isaac Thomas Woolgar, Artificer Engineer, Royal Navy

Isaac was born in Bramber on November 21, 1872, the son of Frederick Woolgar and Eliza Ann, née Muzzall.

Isaac Woolgar in his naval uniform

Isaac Woolgar in his naval uniform

The 1881 census listed the family in Bramber Street, showing Isaac, aged eight, as the sixth of nine children.

In 1891, Isaac was lodging with the Woods family in New Road, Shoreham, when he was an engine fitter’s apprentice.

He must have completed his training as the 1901 census described him as an engine fitter, boarding with the Evans family, in Gillingham, Kent.

Soon after this, he married Ellen Lucy Shears, known as Nellie, of Chatham, Kent, and the 1911 census showed them living at 70 Gordon Road, Gillingham, with four children born between 1902 and 1911.

Isaac had joined the navy and was now a Chief Engine Room Artificer.

His service record shows that early in his career he served on numerous different ships, but mostly on HMS Pembroke.

He later served on HMS Calypso, a C-Class cruiser, launched in 1917.

This ship was involved in the second battle of Heligoland Bight on November 17, 1917, when she and HMS Caledon intercepted German minesweepers off the German coast.

The bridge was struck by a shell, killing all those on the bridge, including the captain, but it is not known whether Isaac was on board at the time.

Isaac was awarded the 1914/15 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

His Navy uniform was donated to the Naval Museum in Portsmouth along with some of the original photographs that he took.

His family have some of his letters and a dinner-gong that he had made of cartridge shells.

Isaac’s first marriage ended in divorce and in 1918 he married Thirza Kilham (known as Lottie) in Steyning.

They had two children together: Elizabeth Lottie, born in 1919, and Harry, born in 1921.

Isaac died in Worthing in 1946.