Relatives of the youngest submarine commander in the Royal Navy in World War 1 gathered in Ripon Cathedral this week to mark the centenary of his death.

Lt Ingleby Stuart Jefferson’s submarine was torpedoed by a German U-boat when it partially surfaced in the North Sea – with only its conning tower showing. Of the ship’s company of 19 men, only one, a stoker, survived. Lt Jefferson was just 24 when he died.

The young lieutenant was renowned for his sporting abilities and for his bravery – two years before his death he had been awarded a medal by the Royal Humane Society for saving a soldier from drowning in Immingham Docks.

Lt Jefferson’s family were joined on Friday by the family of his great friend Lt Hanley Hutchinson – with whom he had grown up in Ripon. Lt Hutchinson also lost his life in 1917 – the two friends were to die less than six weeks apart.

Lt Hutchinson was fatally wounded as the 2/5th battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment, (the Prince of Wales’ Own), engaged the enemy on the Western Front. He was 26. He is buried at Grevillers, a large war cemetery near Bapaume in France and is remembered in a memorial next but one to that of Lt Jefferson.

The commemoration took place at the foot of the memorials in the cathedral’s North nave aisle and was led by the Dean of Ripon, the Very Rev John Dobson. He said: “The names of some 250 men and choristers from the Ripon area who died in World War 1 are inscribed in tablets near the high altar. In remembering Lt Jefferson and Lt Hanley, we honour their memory too.”

Lt Jefferson’s nephew, Richard Jefferson, who lives in Norfolk, said: “We all feel very proud of him. He was a huge loss to the family and if he had lived he could have had an outstanding career.”

In a roll of honour Lt Jefferson was described as ‘one of the best all round athletes in the fleet.’ A member of Headingley Rugby Club, he played rugby for the navy against the army in March 1914 and at 21 was the youngest player on either side. He also represented the navy against the army in bayonet fighting and was said to excel at boxing, wrestling and ski-ing.

He was the elder son of Dr William Jefferson of North House, Ripon, who for 50 years was the city’s Chief Medical Officer. His grandfather, was a canon at Ripon Cathedral in the 1800s.

Mr Richard Jefferson, whose son and grandson both were given Ingleby as a forename, was joined on Friday by his brother, Ingleby William Jefferson, his wife and other family members including two great great nephews.

Joining them in prayer were Prue Hutchinson, widow of the Ripon solicitor Michael Hutchinson, the nephew of Lt Hutchinson and his great nephew Andrew Hutchinson.