Ivy Osbourne Bullard 13 June 1874 – 27 April 1916
Private in the Royal Marine Light Infantry (Private PO7238)
First things first, Ivy Bullard was a he not a she! Back in the late 19th century although it was not an especially popular name it was nevertheless more often given to boys than girls and it was only from the 1930s onwards that boys were no longer called Ivy.
Ivy Bullard was already a serving member of HM Forces when war broke out having enlisted in 1893 aged 19. During his 23 years in the Royal Navy he served on several different ships. One in particular was HMS Ramillies where in 1901 he was a crew member and it was recorded as being in Grand Harbour Valletta, Malta. HMS Ramillies was a Royal Sovereign warship built in 1892 and scrapped in 1913 because like every other battleship in the world it was made obsolete with the launch of the revolutionary HMS Dreadnought – the first all big gun battleship. The Royal Sovereign class was nicknamed the “Rolling Ressies” – a name which stuck even though the problem was corrected by the installation of bilge keels.
If you are interested in understanding the role of a Royal Marine (Light Infantry), traditionally they would have been responsible for either leading boarding parties or repelling boarding attacks, also small-scale landings.
In April 1916 Ivy was serving on HMS Russell and early in the morning of the 27th while steaming off Malta she struck two sea mines that had been laid by a German submarine. According to reports a fire broke out in the after part of the ship and the order to abandon ship was made; following an explosion she took on a dangerous list but nevertheless sank slowly, allowing most of her crew to escape. Even so a total of 27 officers and 98 ratings were lost, Ivy being one of them. His body was never recovered.
Whilst researching the Battle of Jutland for this article, something appealed to my wicked sense of humour – we all know the power of positive thinking but why are warships given names they cannot be expected to live up to? Amongst those lost in the battle were the HMS Indefatigable, HMS Invincible and the most inappropriately named HMS Fortune!
Ivy was born in Tattingstone on 13 June 1874 the eighth child of George and Sarah Bullard. His mother died the following year but not before giving birth to another son. His father remarried and went on to have another three children.
At his death Ivy left a widow, Mary Jane Bullard (nee Bishop who he had married in 1903) and a family of three sons and two daughters namely Ernest William, Gertrude, Charles Edward, Elsie May and Sidney who were living in Devizes.
Interestingly there was another Ivy Osbourne Bullard. Ivy’s older brother George who was in the Essex Regiment and had retired well before WW1 had a son born in Bengal, India who he named after his brother.
Ivy’s death would have been an especially big blow in the village because the Bullards were a very large family here at that time. Records show that in the late 1800s there were fifty members of the family living in Tattingstone. So it is taking some time to look into the whole family tree but there were other Bullards from Tattingstone who served in the Boer War and WW1. One story I intend to follow up is that a Mrs Bullard received recognition from Queen Victoria because she had five sons fighting in the Boer War! So my research into this family is still very much work in progress. So far I have been in touch with family in Lancashire and Texas, who was delighted to find out more about his ancestor, and I am aware of descendants of the wider Bullard family as far away as Canada and Australia.