John Edward Seager was born in Gillingham, Kent, in March 1869. One of eight children, his parents were labourer William Seager and his wife Maria (who was known by her middle name, Elizabeth).
John was keen to have adventure in his life, and the local Naval Dockyard in Chatham gave him that opportunity. on 23rd April 1887, he enlisted in the Royal Navy for the standard twelve years’ service. During that time, he served on six different ships, begging his career as a Stoker and rising through the ranks to become a Leading Stoker at the end of his time.
In April 1899, John re-enlisted and was given the rank of Chief Stoker. After completing his initial training at the on-shore establishment HMS Pembroke, he was assigned to HMS Cossack. Over the next ten years, he served on five more ships, before being moved over the Royal Naval Reserve in 1909.
During this time, John had gotten married. Emmeline Ada Driver was also born in Gillingham, and had found work as a nurse in the Surrey County Asylum. The couple married on 8th August 1903 in New Brompton, and set up home in a cottage close to the centre of Gillingham, close to their families and within walking distance of the dockyard.
When war broke out, John was called back into active service. He spent a year on board HMS Wildfire and five months on HMS Attentive. Most of his time, however, was spent at HMS Pembroke in Chatham. It was while he was here in January 1918 that he was admitted to hospital with pneumonia and tuberculosis. Sadly, Chief Stoker Seager was to succumb to these conditions; he died on 1st February 1918 at the age of 49 years old.
John Edward Seager was laid to rest in the Grange Road Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent. He is commemorated in the Woodlands Cemetery, which replaced this now park.