Roll of Honour
Commander Robert Gerald Fane
Regiment: Royal Navy - HMS Dartmouth
Conflict: World War One
Date of Death: 15th May 1917
Age at Death: 35
Burial/Memorial Location: Bari War Cemetery, Italy
Address: Parents: Bicester House, King's End, Bicester
Silver medal for military valour. Son of Capt. Henry George & Blanche Louisa Fane, of Bicester House.
"Very great sympathy is felt with Capt. and Mrs H.G. Fane, Bicester House, in the loss, now officially confirmed, of their fifth son, Captain-Commander Robert G. Fane, of H.M.S. Dartmouth, who was killed in the Adriatic, most probably as a result of the explosion of the torpedo which struck the ship in an action which occurred about the first or second week in May.
The official Admiralty report states that a squadron of Austrian destroyers attacked the British drifter line in the Adriatic, and succeeded in sinking a number of them. H.M.S.’s Dartmouth and Bristol immediately chased the enemy off, assisted by French and Italian destroyers, and on the return journey the Dartmouth was struck by a torpedo from an enemy submarine, but returned to port, with three men killed by the explosion, and an officer and four men missing (presumed dead). Several other men were wounded.
Comdr. Fane was later announced to be the missing officer mentioned in the report, and we are afraid there is little doubt but that his death has taken place.
Born in 1882, he is one of Capt. and Mrs Fane’s eight sons, five of whom survive him; four have been granted commissions. He early chose the Navy as his profession, and as a lad was a pupil of Mr Littlejohn, at Greenwich, a very well-known naval tutor. He was first appointed to the battleship “Victorious” as a cadet, and went on it to China, returning on board the “Revenge,” which brought the crew of the “Victorious” home. He then joined the “Vernon,” on which ship he underwent a course of study on the subject of electricity. He later again went to sea, this time on the “Bellerophon,” by which time he had received promotion, and upon leaving this latter ship he again returned to the “Vernon,” now in the capacity of an instructor. When war broke out he was appointed to a responsible post on the Forth defences, and in 1915 was appointed to the “Dartmouth” as Commander, on which ship a very promising career was brought to a close by a death of a very unfortunate character.
“Master Robert” is spoken of very highly at Bicester House by the members of the household who remember the too-rare occasions on which he was at home. He was an athlete of more than usual ability." Bicester Herald 25/05/1917
"We last week gave the brief official account of the death of Commander Robert Fane, son of Capt. and Mrs H.G. Fane, of Bicester House, who was killed on the occasion of the torpedoing of the ship “Dartmouth” on which he was serving on May 15th in the Adriatic.
The Admiralty now report that the body was recovered on Tuesday, May 22nd, and buried on the following day at Brindisi Cemetery.
Capt. and Mrs Fane have now received the following letter from Captain Addison, R.N., the Captain of H.M.S. Dartmouth: “The cause of your son’s death was devotion to duty, and happened in this way. We had had a hard day and been in action with the Austrian Fleet; your son was in the ward room taking a brief rest, when the ship was hit by a torpedo fired from an Austrian submarine. Your son rushed to the damaged part of the ship, and lost his life in an endeavour to localise this damage, and it was probable that his action materially assisted in saving the ship.”" Bicester Herald 01/06/1917