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90 Years of Royal Marines Service
Arms of East Suffolk (Coastal)

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Edwin John Hunt Precious in 1930's

Edwin John Hunt Precious (extreme right) with fellow beaters on Combe Estate in 1930

John Graham Hunt Precious in 1938

John Graham Hunt Precious in his No.1 uniform in 1938

RM footballers 1939-1941

John Graham Hunt Precious (on right) and mates in 1941

HMS Uganda in 1941

HMS Uganda 1942-1944


90 Years of Royal Marines Service

Edwin John Hunt Precious (my first cousin twice removed) was born on 24 June 1864, the fourth child of John Hunt Precious and Elizabeth Precious (his cousin), who farmed 50 acres in Woodbridge Road, Parham, Suffolk and had eleven children in all. Edwin (or Edward as he was sometimes called) worked as a Farm Labourer before enlisting in the Royal Marine Light Infantry in Cambridge on 18 July 1882.

After basic training in Walmer, Kent and Portsmouth, on December 1883 he embarked to join the "Victor Emanuel" in February 1884 in Hong Kong. He maintained close links with his family and on the death of his Grandfather, John Precious, on 23 May 1885 in Parham, the death certificate records Edwin as the informant who was present at the death. He served on a number of ships overseas, including the battleship HMS Camperdown, which was involved in a collision with the HMS Victoria which sank with heavy loss of life in 1893. He was awarded the Ashanti War Medal with 1890 clasp and the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, and received several promotions before being discharged in 1903 as a Colour Sergeant. He then enrolled in the Royal Fleet Reserve carrying out duties mainly in Portsmouth, including assignments to HMS Victory and her tender HMS Firequeen, before his demobilisation in 1919.

Edwin John Hunt Precious married Emily Kite in October 1887 in Portsmouth and had two children, Edwin John Henry Precious (b.1888 in Gosport, Hampshire) and Elsie May Precious (b.1893 in Forton, Hampshire). After his discharge in 1903, Edwin and family moved to Downside, Cobham, Surrey and after his final demobilisation in 1919 he worked at the Cobham Stud Farm, looking after the Shire horses. Emily unfortunately died in 1911 and Edwin married again in 1920 to Emily Jane Kippin. They had one son John Graham Hunt Precious (b. November 1920). Edwin died in December 1938 in Cobham Cottage Hospital, Surrey, after an accident when he fell and fractured his femur.

Edwin John Henry Precious (my second cousin once removed) enlisted in the Royal Marines Light Infantry on 12 July 1902. He served in the Portsmouth Division from 1902-1922 and then in the Plymouth Division from 1922-1927 before transfer to the Royal Fleet Reserve. He then served in the Royal Military Police, Chatham Division from 1929-1934, moving to the Plymouth Division from 1934-1942. In the meantime, Edwin had married Flora Girling in Downside, Cobham, Surrey in August 1915 and had two children, Flora (b.1919 in Forton, Hampshire) and Elsie (b.1921 in Forton, Hampshire). He served on a wide variety of ships, including active service during the First World War, and was awarded the Commemorative Medal Earthquake in Italy 1908, the 1914-15 Star, the British War and Victory Medals, and the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. He also achieved the same rank as his father, Colour Sergeant before his discharge in 1927. After his final discharge from the Royal Military Police in 1942, he remained in Plymouth and died there in 1950.

John Graham Hunt Precious (my second cousin once removed and step-brother of Edwin John Henry Precious) enlisted in the Royal Marines in London on the 20 December 1937 at the age of 17 years 1 month and 4 days. He served on three ships during World War Two; H.M.S. Cornwall, 15 Mar 1939 until 13 Feb 1942, H.M.S. Uganda 17 Dec 1942 until 20 July 1944 and H.M.S. Cleopatra 21 July 1944 until 26 Feb 1945. Whilst serving on Uganda on 10th July 1943 he was wounded in action, but continued to serve. At the end of the war he went to Chatham Division to continue his career and discharge but was engaged again for the Korean War where he joined 3 Commando Brigade as 45 Commando and was shipped out to Malta to await call up. Fortunately he was not required and returned to RMB Plymouth and then Technical Training Command (RMB Eastney) before release on 30 June 1952 after completion of 13 years and 227 days service.

In 1950, John married Peggy Eileen Moore at Hatchford, Cobham, Surrey and they had four children; twins Pamela and Wendy, Jeffrey John and Janet. John Graham Hunt Precious was an avid footballer before, throughout and after his service in the Marines. After he left the Marines he worked as a driver for Henekey's Brewery in Cobham and later became a self-employed painter and decorator. On retirement he helped the Gamekeeper on the Combe Estate, Downside, Cobham, Surrey and looked after the ducks and pheasants for the shoot until his death in March 1999. After cremation at Leatherhead, Surrey, his ashes were scattered under an old oak tree on the Combe Estate near the pheasants, in an area he had always loved.

Between them, the three men served a total of more than 90 years in the Royal Marines covering two World Wars and a variety of ships and places around the world. A proud testament to one family's commitment to their country and to the dedication of their menfolk, their wives and their children.

(I am indebted to Wendy Precious, my third cousin and daughter of John Graham Hunt Precious, who also served in the Royal Navy, for providing this information and for permission to publish this story).

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