John was born in St Luke’s, Middlesex on 25th May 1887. Not much is known about his early life, except he did have a brother and sister.
He joined the Royal Navy on 1st November 1902 as a Boy 2nd Class, recorded as 5’5” tall with brown hair and blue eyes. He had varying tattoos of a serpent, an actress, a spray of pansies, all on his right forearm and a crocodile, snake, butterfly and crossed flags on his left forearm.
His service record follows:
HMS IMPREGNABLE - 01/11/1902 - 07/11/1902
HMS LION - 08/11/1902 - 02/03/1904, rising to Boy 1st on 17/12/1903
HMS BOSCAWEN - 03/03/1904 - 25/05/1904
HMS DIDO - 26/05/1904 - 05/03/1906, rising to Ordinary Seaman on 25/05/1905. It was upon leaving DIDO that John deserted from the Navy rather than heading to Chatham. He was awarded 42 days hard labour for his desertion.
HMS PEMBROKE I - 06/03/1906 - 30/06/1906.
HMS TRIUMPH - 01/07/1906 - 05/10/1908, rising to Able Seaman on 02/09/1907, his character also improved from fair to very good.
HMS PEMBROKE - 06/10/1908 - 19/10/1908
HMS INFLEXIBLE - 20/10/1908 - 09/11/1908
HMS PEMBROKE I - 10/11/1908 - 18/12/1908
HMS IRRESISTIBLE - 19/12/1908 - 09/05/1910, spending 7 days in cells on 06/06/1909 and another 5 days in cells on 14/06/1909
HMS PEMBROKE I - 10/05/1910 - 16/05/1910
HMS FORMIDABLE - 17/05/1916 - 01/06/1911. John was aboard during the 1911 census, when the battleship was anchored at No 3 basin at Chatham Dockyard.
HMS PEMBROKE I - 02/06/1911 - 20/02/1912, serving 26 days detention on 22/01/1912, for an unknown reason. During his detention, he assisted with the restoration (of Lady IV?) and spent some time serving in land operations with armoured trains.
HMS INDOMITABLE - 21/02/1912 - 09/02/1914
HMS PEMBROKE I - 10/02/1914 - 14/04/1914
HMS DIDO (LAWFORD) - 15/04/1914 - 18/07/1914, spending 10 days in detention due to absence
HMS PEMBROKE I - 29/07/1914 - 02/08/1914
HMS DIDO (LAWFORD) - 03/08/1914 - 16/09/1914, spending 14 days in cells due to absence
HMS PEMBROKE I - 01/10/1914 - 10/12/1915
HMS PATROL - 11/12/1915 - 15/01/1917, spending 7 days in cells on 26/10/1916 and 16 days hard labour on 15/01/1917 again for absence.
HMS PEMBROKE - 01/02/1917 - 25/02/1917
HMS VANGUARD - 26/02/1917 - 09/07/1917
John was awarded the 1914 Star, Victory and British medals, although it seems his 1914 Star was returned. He is remembered on the Chatham Naval Memorial.
#281 - 317/843
1911 England census
Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, 1848-1939 National Archives Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services; Class: ADM 188; Piece: 393
National Archives Admiralty: Naval Casualties, Indexes, War Grave Rolls and Statistics Book, First World War.; Class: ADM 242; Piece: Piece 008; Piece Description: Piece 008 (1914 - 1919)
Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 TNA Series: ADM 242/8; Scan Number: 0496
Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972 ADM 171; Piece: 102
Photo courtesy of John Harvey