Category Archives: Northumberland

CWG: Second Lieutenant George Woodland

Second Lieutenant George Woodland

George Henry Woodland was born on 9th June 1899, and was one of six children – three boys and three girls – to Mark and Ada Woodland. Mark was a hewer in a coalmine in Radstock, Somerset, and this is where the family were raised.

George – who was better known as Harry – was still at school when war broke out. He had been taught at the Church of England School in his home town, before winning a scholarship to Shepton Mallet Grammar School. Having passed his exams there, he was taken on as a member of staff at his former school, before joining the army in June 1917 when he turned eighteen.

Initially joining the Infantry Training Reserve, Harry was subsequently transferred to the Royal Air Force. After training in Yorkshire for five months, he was transferred to the 52nd Training Depot Station at Cramlington Airfield in Northumberland.

Second Lieutenant Woodland returned home on leave in October 1918. This was the first time that he and his two brothers had been together since war had been declared – one had been serving in France, the other had been injured and was recuperating at a hospital in Bristol. Harry returned to Northumberland on 14th October.

On 5th November 1918, Harry was flying at the Cramlington base; shortly after take off, while carrying out a flat turn at a height of about 100ft, his aircraft stalled and nosedived, catching fire on impact. Tragically, Second Lieutenant Woodland and his passenger – Air Mechanic Ryder – were burnt to death. Harry was just 19 years of age.

George Henry “Harry” Woodland was brought back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest in the family plot in the graveyard of St Nicholas’ Church in his home town of Radstock.

Second Lieutenant George Woodland

CWG: Stoker 1st Class Thomas Haville

Stoker 1st Class Thomas Haville

Thomas Giles Lansley Haville was born on 16th June 1897, and was one of seven children. There is little concrete information about his early life, but his parents were Devon-born Francis Haville and his Newcastle-born wife, Jane.

Francis was an army man, who had moved his family from Aldershot to Scotland and Northumberland, finally settling in Newcastle shortly before Thomas’ birth. Francis died in 1908, when Thomas was just 11 years old, and it seems likely that Jane passed away around the same time.

Thomas himself had not been a well child – the 1901 census gives him as an inpatient at the Northumberland District Royal Infirmary, although it is not clear what condition he was suffering from.

When he left school, Thomas followed a trade common amongst young men of his age in the North East, that of a pit worker. He wanted bigger and better things, however, and, on 9th May 1916, eighteen months into the First World War, he enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Stoker 2nd Class.

His service records suggest that he volunteered, as he gave his year of birth as two years earlier than it actually was, in order to be accepted as being of legal age. The enlistment papers also confirm that Thomas was 5ft 4.5ins (1.64m) tall, had a fresh complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair.

Stoker Haville’s first posting was HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard at Chatham in Kent, a base to which he would return a couple of times. After his initial training, he was assigned to HMS Blonde, a cruiser-cum-mine layer, based out of Scapa Flow. In March 1917, he moved on to the battleship HMS Vanguard, which was also based in the North Sea.

The Vanguard was destroyed on 9th July 1917 when a number of magazines exploded on board – 843 of the 845 crew were killed. Thomas had had a lucky escape; just two weeks earlier he had been transferred back to Chatham. During his time on board, however, he had been promoted to Stoker 1st Class.

HMS Pembroke was a busy place that summer. The replacement crew for the Vanguard that would now not be needed were based there, and temporary accommodation was needed quickly. Chatham Drill Hall was brought into service, and Thomas found himself billeted there.

On the 3rd September 1917, the German Air Force carried out its first night air raid: Chatham was heavily bombed and the Drill Hall received a direct hit; Stoker 1st Class Haville was among those killed instantly. He was just 20 years of age.

Thomas Giles Lansley Haville was laid to rest, alongside the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham.

CWG: Lieutenant Ernest Hutchinson

Lieutenant Ernest Hutchinson

Ernest Henry Hutchinson was born in January 1878, one of four children to Dorothy Hutchinson, from Blyth, Northumberland. Details of Ernest’s father are sketchy and, by the time of the 1891 census, Dorothy seems to have been widowed and remarried, as her surname was now Alexander.

By this time Ernest was at school, and boarding with his aunt and uncle, but his siblings were all living with Dorothy and listed as ‘step-children’. Dorothy gave her employment as ‘housewife; husband at sea’, and it seems that this was likely her first husband’s job and, in fact, it would turn out to be her eldest son’s as well.

Ernest disappears from the census records for a while, but had readily taken to a life at sea. Over the next few years, he became certified as a Second Mate of a Foreign-Going Ship (1897), First Mate of a Foreign-Going Ship (1899) and Master of a Foreign-Going Ship (1904).

When war broke out, Ernest was seconded into the Merchant Navy. Sadly, his military records no longer exist, but during his time he attained the rank of Lieutenant. Ernest survived the war, and was retained as part of the Royal Naval Reserve, while continuing with his own sailing work.

At some point, Ernest married a woman called Emma Jane; documentation on the couple is scarce, so the date of the marriage is lost to time. The couple settled, however, in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, but do not appear to have had any children.

Ernest’s maritime career continued after the war. One of his commissions was as First Mate aboard the SS Treveal. This was a new vessel in 1919, making its maiden voyage from Glasgow to the Middle East. It then sailed on to Calcutta, and was on its way back to Dundee by the beginning of 1920.

A local Cornish newspaper took up the story.

The terrible toll of 36 lives were levied by the wreck of the St Ives steamer Treveal, off the Dorset Coast on Saturday morning. The crew totalled 43, only seven surviving.

The Treveal, 5,200 tons, one of the Hain fleet of steamers, was caught by a fierce gale during Friday night and was firmly wedged on the Kimmeridge Ledge, near St Alban’s Head.

A Portland tug and Swanage lifeboat came to her assistance, but were unable to lend any practical aid, and on Saturday morning the Treveal was abandoned in favour of the ship’s boats. The latter were soon capsized and only seven of the crew succeeded in reaching the shore.

West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser: Monday 12th January 1920.

The report went into much more detail about the tragedy, including “a warm tribute to the vicar of a parish nearby, the Revd. Pearce, who stood up to his neck helping to pull the men in. The vicar tried for an hour to resuscitate the First Mate [Ernest Hutchinson], but without success.

Another newspaper gave further information about Ernest’s funeral, and the impact of the shipwreck on his widow.

There was a simple but affecting scene in Weston-super-Mare Cemetery on Saturday afternoon, when the body of Chief Officer EH Hutchinson, one of the 35 victims in the wreck of the SS Treveal… was laid to rest.

It will be recollected that… the first tidings of his tragic fate reached the widow… through the columns of a Sunday newspaper. Only on the previous morning she had received a letter notifying the date on which the Treveal was due to reach Dundee – whither the major portion of her cargo has been consigned from Calcutta – asking him to meet her there.

Western Daily Press: Monday 19th January 1920

Ernest Henry Hutchinson drowned at the age of 42 years old. He was buried in the Milton Cemetery in his adopted home town of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset.