John, known as Jack, was born on 6th December 1885, in Ramsgate, Kent to parents William and Mary.
Aged 5 during the recording of the 1891 England census, John lived at 24 Hibernia Street, Ramsgate with his parents and 5 siblings. His father and older brother William were both mariners and it wouldn’t be long before John followed in their footsteps with a life at sea.
10 years later John was working as a stonemason apprentice, now aged 15 and living with his parents and siblings, at Fairhill Cottage, Alpha Road, Ramsgate. 9 months later he had left his apprenticeship and had joined the Navy as a Boy 2nd Class, recorded as 5'3" tall with black hair and brown eyes.
He began his training at HMS Ganges on 8th January 1902, based on the Suffolk coastline in Shotley, rising to Boy 1st Class on 11/09/1903.
His service record follows:-
HMS MINOTAUR - 30/01/1903 - 31/07/1903
HMS AGINCOURT - 01/08/1903 - 04/11/1903
HMS DONEGAL - 05/11/1903 - 30/10/1905, rising to Ordinary Seaman on his 18th birthday and again to Able Seaman on 30/04/1905
HMS PEMBROKE - 31/10/1905 - 18/12/1905
HMS ENCOUNTER - 19/12/1905 - 31/12/1907. While stationed at this ship he was sentenced to 7 days in cells for an unknown offence.
HMS DIDO - 01/01/1908 - 18/02/1908
HMS PEMBROKE - 19/02/1908 - 07/08/1908
HMS ACTAEON - 08/08/1908 - 29/12/1908
HMS TRIUMPH - 30/12/1908 - 11/01/1911
HMS PEMBROKE I - 12/01/1911 - 07/02/1911
HMS ALBION - 08/02/1911 - 13/03/1912
HMS PEMBROKE I - 14/03/1912 - 09/04/1912
John’s final posting was to HMS Vanguard commencing on 10th April 1912 and was aboard the ship during the Battle of Jutland.
His medals, the Star, Victory and British as well as his pension were awarded to his mother after his death.
#172 - 702/843
1891 & 1901 England Census
Ganges photo courtesy of Roy Youngs
The National Archives; Admiralty: Naval Casualties, ADM 242; 010
Naval Medal and Award Rolls, Class: ADM 171/115
The National Archives Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services; ADM 188/ 384
Western Front Association; PRC Ledgers; Reference: 723/11PP
Photo - Thanet Times 20th July 1917/British Newspaper Archives