The son of a Royal Navy sailor has discovered the identity of the unsung hero who miraculously saved his father’s life 100 years ago – thanks to an overheard party chat.
David Morgan, 77, had no idea of the identity of the petty officer who rescued his dad Geoffrey from drowning during the Battle of Jutland in 1916.
The two men were among just three who escaped the wrecked engine room of the sinking HMS Warrior as it flooded.
David, a retired brigadier with the Gurkha Rifles, was told the story by his dad as a boy but thought he’d never learn the name of his saviour.
But a century on David discovered the identity of brave George Lancaster when he went to a lunch party at a friends‘ house.
He overheard guests talking about a new book, A Shy and Simple Warrior, which has been published to mark the centenary of the famous First World War Sea battle.
It is written by local author Rosie Parr, the granddaughter of George who coincidentally lives near David in Somerset.
Rosie had discovered more about David’s father’s life than even he knew and for the first time he heard the full story of his dad’s survival.
Rosie was not at the party but David wrote to her publisher and they arranged to meet.
David said: “I overheard people talking about the book and told them ‘That’s funny, my father was in the engine room on HMS Warrior’.
“It was an absolutely astounding moment. It was purely by chance. I found Rosie and told her ‘I think your grandfather and my father must have known each other.
“‘I would go further to suggest that your grandfather was responsible for saving my father’s life.'”
David of Ilminster, Somerset and Rosie, a solicitor from nearby Wanstrow arranged to meet last month.
David added: “It was amazing to meet Rosie because she had done loads of research and I had done virtually none.
“My father was a remarkably calm and quiet man. He never really initiated any sort of conversation that would suggest he was boasting about anything.
“But quite clearly he had had the most phenomenal career.”
David, a granddad-of-seven who was just 17 when his highly-decorated engineer father died, said it was a miracle Rosie and he found each other.
David, a former custodian at Glastonbury Abbey, said: “My father died in 1956 and I assumed that everybody else involved in the story would have died an equally long time ago.
“I found it absolutely fascinating talking to Rosie, not least because she knew more about my father than I did.
“I certainly never expected to meet a next of kin.”
Rosie, 63, said: “It was very moving to meet David and quite an extraordinary coincidence.”
Geoffrey Morgan and George Lancaster spent 18 months together on HMS Warrior, a ten-gun armoured cruiser.
On May 31 1916 a shell burst through the side of the ship and into the port engine room where it exploded.
Geoffrey, then a 26-year-old engineer lieutenant and George, a 29-year-old engine room petty officer, heroically risked their lives keep the engines going.
After helping the ship escape enemy fire and helping to save the lives of around 700 sailors on board, they found themselves trapped.
Rosie said: “The ship was badly shot up by the German ships but Warrior managed to escape more enemy fire and get to safety because the engine room crew kept the engines going.
“But they found themselves trapped.