John Joseph Madden was born in Cork, Eire, on 13th August 1894, one of ten children to John and Mary Madden. John Sr was a jarvey – or coach/cab driver – while his son found work as a messenger boy when he left school.
John Jr wanted bigger and better things, however, and so, on 26th June 1913, at the age of 19, he left Cork for a life in the Royal Navy. Joining up as a Stoker 2nd Class, his initial posting was at HMS Pembroke, the shore-based establishment at the Naval Dockyard in Chatham. After five months’ training there, he was assigned to HMS St George for his first posting.
Over the next few years, Stoker Madden served on five different vessels, rising through the ranks to Stoker 1st Class, and Leading Stoker. His final ship was HMS Conquest, which he boarded on 1st April 1916. The cruiser served in the North Sea and was damaged by a shell during the German raid on Lowestoft just weeks after John came on board.
HMS Conquest was involved in a number of other skirmishes during Leading Stoker Madden’s time on board, On 13th June 1918, while on patrol, she struck a mine, and was badly damaged. Seven of those on board, including John, lost their lives in the incident. He was just 23 years of age.
The ship sailed back to the Naval Dockyard in Chatham; John Joseph Madden was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in nearby Gillingham.