George Tompkins was born on January 1, 1866 at Burton Bradstock, Dorset, England the eldest son of Richard and Ann Tompkins. Sometime between 1876 and 1881 the family moved to Broadoak, Symondsbury, Dorset where George was employed as an Agricultural Labourer. A life on the land was not however for George and he enlisted in the Royal Navy as a boy recruit.
Boscawen (13 Sep 1881 – 28 Mar 1883)
George was initially posted to HMS Boscawan, the Royal Navy Training Establishment for boy seamen as Boy 2nd Class, anyone going there was destined to become either a Gunner or Signaller in the Navy. At this time he was described as 5 feet 5 inches tall, of ruddy complexion, with brown hair and grey eyes. On August 9, 1882 he is raised to Boy 2nd Class and his conduct noted as very good.
Neptune (29 Mar 1883 – 11 Sep 1884)
George’s first active posting is to HMS Neptune, a masted turret ship. HMS Neptune, was built initially for the Brazilian Government, she was to be called Independencia. Due to the Possible Russian conflict the ship was purchased by the Admiralty and taken to Portsmouth for Further alterations. These modifications included replacing the armament with standard Royal naval 12 inch MLR and 9 inch Guns. It was aboard the Neptune on January 1, 1884, on reaching the age of 18 that George’s adult Naval career began with the rank of Ordinary Seaman. On May 1, 1884 he was raised to the rank of Able Seaman.
Excellent (12 Sep1884 – 30 Sep 1885)
Although today HMS Excellent is a shore establishment on Whale Island near Portsmouth, this was a time of transition for the Navy’s advanced gunnery school.
Calypso (31 Sep 1885 – 01 Nov 1888)
Following his year of training George was posted to HMS Calypso, the first of the Calypso Class steel corvettes which had been launched in 1883. On December 12, 1886 George was promoted to Leading Seaman and from January 1, 1887 wore the badge of Gunnery Instructor. A year later on January 15, 1888 he was promoted Petty Officer 2nd Class,
Excellent (02 Nov 1888 – 03 Mar 1890)
Phaeton (04 Mar 1890 – 09 Aug 1891)
Launched on Febraury 27, 1883 at Govan and commissioned at Chatham for service in the Mediterranean, reportedly, taking her station there between 1890 and 1892. Weighing 3,600 tons, HMS Phaeton was barquetine rigged with two funnels and carried 10 x 6″ and 3 X 3″ guns, also 10 Nordenfelds, a fast firing small bore gun and 4 torpedo tubes, her deck was steel but she had little armour since with a top speed of 18 knots she was considered too fast to be hurt by anything any other country had at that time.
Hibernia (10 Aug 1891 – 03 Oct 1891)
Ashore in Malta, HMS Hibernia was a 110-gun first rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. She was launched at Plymouth dockyard on 17 November 1804. She was flagship of the British Mediterranean Fleet from 1816 until 1855, when she became the flagship for the Royal Navy’s base at Malta and stationed in Grand Harbour. She remained in this role until she was sold in 1902.
Phaeton ( 04 Oct 1891 – 25 Aug 1893)
It was back to the Phaeton for the return to home waters.
Victory I (26 Aug 1893 – 15 Jan 1894)
Excellent (16 Jan 1894 – 31 Oct 1896)
Vernon (01 Nov 1896 – 28 Nov 1896)
By 1895 HMS Vernon had long been established as a Torpedo School and Authority at Portsmouth. It started this role in 1876 and it, the Vernon, with other old hulks as joiners and leavers [Ariadne, Acteon, Donegal] plus an old lighter the Florence Nightingale formed the school – accommodation, workshops, classrooms, exercise yard, parade ground etc etc. In 1895, the Vernon, the Ariadne and the Acteon, collectively known as HMS Vernon moved to Portchester Creek.
Excellent (29 Nov 1896 – 18 Jan 1897)
Iphigenia (19 Jan 1897 – 08 Jun 1900)
At this time HMS Iphigenia was serving with the China Squadron, known as the Niffy Jane she was an Apollo Class cruiser. The largest class of cruisers ever to serve with the Royal Navy. When new they were criticised for a week armament for their size they also had a reputation for being wet sea boats but reliable steamers. Iphigenia was copper and wood sheathed for foreign service.
Dewell I (09 Jun 1900 – 27 Aug 1900)
Boscawen (28 Aug 1900 – 31 Oct 1900)
Agincourt ( 01 Nov 1900 – 14 Mar 1901)
HMS Agincourt was a 10,690-ton Minotaur class broadside ironclad launched in 1865. She was used as a harbor training ship at Portland and Harwich between 1893 and 1909
Boscawen (15 Mar 1901 – 27 Oct 1901)
On census night, March 31, 1901, George is recorded aboard the Dolphin in Portland Harbour. She was a three-masted auxiliary barque, of 925 tons, fitted with a horizontal compound “Back acting” steam engine. Her normal crew numbered 113. Although by this time her engines had been removed and she was a sea-going sail training ship, stationed at Portland taking boys on four month sail training cruises. George is recorded as being married, but so far his wife has not been identified.
Vernon (28 Oct 1901 – 23 Nov 1901)
Duke of Wellington (24 Nov 1901 – 14 Dec 1901)
By this time HMS Duke of Wellington was a a receiving ship, or floating barracks at Portsmouth commanded by David Beatty, future admiral. Originally a 131 gun first-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. Launched in 1852, she was symptomatic of an era of rapid technological change in the navy, being powered both by sail and steam. An early steam-powered ship, she was still fitted with towering masts and trim square-set yards, and was the flagship of Sir Charles Napier.
Boscawen ( 15Dec 1901 – 05 Jan 1904)
In receipt of a Navy pension George joined the Royal Fleet Reserve at Portsmouth on January 14, 1904 in which he served until discharged due to his death on November 2, 1911.