Alan Edward Lloyd was born in around 1899, the second of five children – all boys – to William and Edith Lloyd. Both of his parents were Welsh, and his older brother was born in Cardiff. Railway clerk William moved around the country with work, however, and Alan was born in Lydney, Gloucestershire, his younger brother in Paddington, London, and his two youngest siblings were born in Windsor, Berkshire.
There is little information about Alan’s early life; what is clear is that, by the autumn of 1918, he had been in the army, reaching the rank of Lieutenant. He transferred across to the newly formed Royal Air Force and, in December that year was training as a Flight Cadet at Shotwick Airfield near Chester.
On the 4th December, Alan was flying his Sopwith Camel, when he got into a flat spin; the aircraft crashed and Alan was killed. He was just 19 years old.
Alan Edward Lloyd was brought to Devon – where his family were now living – for burial. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of All Saints Church in Highweek, near Newton Abbot.
George Gunn was born on 15th October 1891, the middle of three children to William and Hughina Gunn. The family lived in the hamlet of Skerray on the North Scottish coast.
Sadly, there is little information about George’s life. When was broke out, he enlisted in the Royal Naval Reserve, which suggests that he had experience of going to sea, although this is likely, because he lived in a coastal village.
George’s service records show that he was 5ft 10.5ins (1.79m) tall, had grey eyes and a fresh complexion. Under ‘personal marks’ the document noted that he had a dimple in his chin.
Seaman Gunn spent most of his time on land; he was initially posted to HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent. In June 1915, however, he was assigned to the minelayer HMS Orvieto, and spent the next year patrolling the North Sea.
By the spring of 1916, George was back in Chatham; by August he was on the move again, this time to London, where he spent twelve months at HMS President, the Royal Naval Base in London. He returned to HMS Pembroke on 3rd September 1917, a move that was to prove fatal.
The base was a particularly busy place that summer, and George was billeted in overflow accommodation in the barracks’ Drill Hall.
That night, Chatham was bombarded by a German air raid, and the Drill Hall received a direct hit. Tragically, Seamen Gunn was among those killed. He was just 24 years old and has been at HMS Pembroke for a matter of hours.
George Gunn’s body, along the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, more than 500 miles from home.
John Green was born in Putney, London, on 9th September 1895. He was one of eight children to cab driver Albert Green and his wife, Bridget. When he left school, John found work as an errand boy, but clearly wanted bigger and better things.
On 8th October 1913, he enlisted as a Stoker 2nd Class in the Royal Navy. His naval records confirm that he was 5ft 4ins (1.62m) tall, had brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion. He was also noted as having a scar on the side of his right eye.
While John’s service records confirm his date of birth as that above, other documents suggest that his year of birth was 1897. This would have meant he would have been to young to enlist in the Royal Navy when he did, although it was not unusual for keen sailors to add a year or so to their age to ensure they were accepted.
Stoker 1st Class Green was initially sent to HMS Pembroke – the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent – for training. He spent six months there, before being assigned to the dreadnought battleship HMS Vanguard. He spent three-and-a-half years on board her, and gained a promotion to Stoker 1st Class in the process.
In August 1917, John returned to Chatham Dockyard. HMS Pembroke was a busy and cramped place that particular summer, and he was billeted to temporary accommodation set up in Chatham Drill Hall.
On the night of 3rd September, the town came under attack from a German air raid, and the Drill Hall received a direct hit. Stoker Green was badly injured and admitted to the Chatham Naval Hospital; he succumbed to his injuries the following day, days short of (officially) his 22nd birthday.
John Green was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent, alongside the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid.
Edward Short Mudford was born on 29th March 1898 in the Somerset village of Stratton-on-the-Fosse. He was one of nine children to Joseph and Mary Mudford.
Information about his early life is confusing: the 1901 census gives his name as Edwin, rather than Edward; his father appears to have died by this point, leaving Mary to raise the family alone. The 1911 census records Edward and a younger sister living the Union Workhouse in Shepton Mallet, while Mary has apparently remarried and living in Radstock with two of Edward’s siblings and a daughter from her second marriage, although her new husband is noticeable in his absence from the document.
From this shaky start, however, Edward sought a new life for himself. On 21st August 1913 he enlists in the Royal Navy. His service records show that he stood just 5ft 1ins (1.55m) tall, had fair hair, hazel eyes and a fresh complexion. Being under age at the time, he was given the rank of Boy 2nd Class.
Edward was initially sent to HMS Ganges, the naval training establishment outside Ipswich, Suffolk. Promoted to Boy 1st Class in February 1914, he was soon given his first posting, on the cruiser HMS Crescent.
After another short spell at HMS Vivid, the Naval Dockyard in Plymouth, Boy Mudford found himself on board HMS Thunderer. Edward spend nearly four years aboard the battleship, coming of age and gaining the rank of Ordinary Seaman, while also being promoted to Able Seaman in March 1916.
Edward returned to Plymouth in February 1918, and spent the next couple of years between there, Portsmouth and Woolwich Dockyards. He was again promoted, given the rank of Leading Seaman in September 1918.
Life at sea and in barracks took its toll, however, and, in in the spring of 1920, Leading Seaman Mudford contracted influenza and pneumonia. Sadly the conditions proved too much to bear: he passed away on 20th March 1920, a week shy of his 22nd birthday.
Brought back to Somerset, where, presumably some of his family still lived, Edward Short Mudford was laid to rest in the graveyard of St John the Baptist Church in Chilcompton.
Sidney George Towills was born in Soho, London, on 14th May 1900. He was the youngest of two children to Henry and Maria Towills. Both had been born in Dorset, but Henry had found work as a constable for the Metropolitan Police and they had moved to London by the early 1890s.
The 1901 census recorded the family as living in Plaistow, but ten years later the family had moved back to Dorset, and were ensconced back in Maria’s home village of Abbotsbury.
When war broke out, Sidney was only 14 years old. He wanted to play his part, however, and as soon as he was able to enlist, he did so. He joined the Royal Navy on 9th April 1918 and, because of his age, was given the rank of Boy 2nd Class.
Sidney’s service records show that he was 5ft 9ins (1.75m) tall, had brown hair, blue eyes and a health complexion. He was assigned to the cruiser HMS Powerful and, on his eighteenth birthday, just over a month after enlisting, he was awarded the rank of Ordinary Seaman.
Tragically, Ordinary Seaman Towills’ service was not destined to be a long one. In June, he was admitted to the Royal Naval Hospital in Plymouth with empyema, a lung disease; he passed away from the condition on 2nd July 1918. He was barely 18 years of age and had served in the Royal Navy for 96 days.
Sidney George Towills was brought back to Abbotsbury for burial. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Nicholas’ Church in the heart of the village.
Owen Henry Jones was born in Islington, Middlesex, on 23rd October 1888. His father was tailor Edward Jones, but little additional information about Owen’s early life remains.
By the end of 1913, he was working as a packing case maker and living in Shoreditch. He had met Ada Elizabeth Cornelius, the daughter of a dock labourer, and the couple married on Christmas Day at St Peter’s Church in Hoxton Square.
Within a year, war had engulfed Europe and, on 1st June 1915, Owen enlisted in the Royal Navy. His service records show that he had swapped his names round, and was going by Henry Owen Jones. He was 5ft 9ins (1.75m) tall, had light brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion.
Stoker 2nd Class Jones was initially sent to HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent, for his training, but, within a couple of months, was assigned to the monitor vessel HMS Lord Clive. He served on board for just over a year, gaining a promotion to Stoker 1st Class in the process.
After six months back in Chatham, Henry was given his second posting, on board another monitor ship, HMS General Wolfe. After just three months, however, he found himself back on shore at HMS Pembroke.
The Dockyard was particularly busy that summer, and the large number of extra servicemen meant that Henry was billeted in temporary accommodation in Chatham Drill Hall.
On the 3rd September 1917, the first night air raid carried out by the German Air Force bombarded the town, and scored a direct hit on the Drill Hall; Stoker 1st Class Jones was among those killed instantly. He was just 28 years of age.
Henry Owen Jones was laid to rest, along with the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham. Tragically he was buried as ‘unidentified’: the records state that he lies “in one of the following graves: 516, 522, 735, 935, 937, 948, 642.”
Reginald James Clark was born on 30th March 1896 in Shoreditch, East London. His parents were carver Reginald Clark and his wife, Elizabeth.
When he left school, Reginald found work as a boot packer, but was war on the horizon. On 3rd March 1915, he enlisted in the Royal Navy, signing up for the duration as a Stoker 2nd Class. His service records show that he stood 5ft 4.5ins (1.63m) tall, had dark brown hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion.
Stoker Clark was initially sent to the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent – also known as HMS Pembroke – for training, but was soon given his first posting. This was on the depot ship HMS Hecla, and he spent more than two years aboard, gaining a promotion to Stoker 1st Class in the process.
In June 1917, Reginald returned to Chatham, and spent the summer barracked at the Dockyard. HMS Pembroke was particularly busy at that point in the war, and temporary accommodation was needed quickly. Chatham Drill Hall was brought into service, and Reginald 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 Clark was among those killed. He was just 21 years of age.
Reginald James Clark was laid to rest, alongside the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham.
Ernest Hoskins was born in Catford, South East London, and was the oldest of six children to Joseph and Mary Hoskins. Joseph was a landscape gardener from Devon, who sought his fortune in the capital; the family moved across the city over the years, in search of work.
Ernest found work for the merchant navy when he left school. War soon broke out, and, on 14th July 1915, he enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Stoker 1st Class. His service records give him as 5ft 10in (1.78m) tall, with light brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. They also confirm a date of birth as 21st July 1889, which is at odds with his census records, which suggest he was born three years earlier.
Stoker Hoskins was initially posted to HMS Pembroke – the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent – and spent the rest of the year there. He was then moved up river to the shore-based establishment in London known as HMS President, remaining there for eighteen months before transferring back to Kent.
Ernest seems not to have always been on the right side of the law: within days of arriving back in Chatham, he was detained for 36 days for “offering [a] forged receipt and attempting to obtain money by false pretences.”
Ernest was released on 6th May 1917, but within a couple of months, he was detained again, this time for five days for reasons unknown. By the end of July he returned to his duties.
HMS Pembroke was a busy place that summer, and temporary accommodation was needed. Chatham Drill Hall was brought into service, and the newly-released Ernest 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 Hoskins was among those killed instantly. He was just 28 years of age (according to his service records).
Ernest Hoskins was laid to rest alongside the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham.
Robert William Franklin was born on 9th March 1894, one of four children to Alfred and Annie Franklin. Alfred was Australian, who had settled in England in his teens and settled in Woolwich, London, to marry and raise his family. It was not long, however, before the family upped and moved to Greenock, Scotland.
There is little information available about Robert’s early life, but in 1913 he enlisted in the Royal Navy, and served for three years. His enrolment papers show that he was 5ft 4.5ins (1.64m) tall, had auburn hair and brown eyes. He was also noted has having a scar on his abdomen and had been working as an appliance fitter.
Details of his initial service are not readily available, although a later newspaper report suggests that he “was with the Naval Division at the siege of Antwerp [October 1914] and served through the Gallipoli campaign” [Daily Record: Saturday 8th September 1917].
Able Seaman Franklin was transferred to the Royal Naval Reserve in April 1916, and was based at HMS President – the London shore-based establishment. However, he had moved to The Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent – also known as HMS Pembroke – by the end of July 1917.
The Dockyard was particularly busy that summer, and the large number of extra servicemen meant that Robert was billeted in temporary accommodation in Chatham Drill Hall.
On the 3rd September 1917, the first night air raid carried out by the German Air Force bombarded the town, and scored a direct hit on the Drill Hall; Leading Seaman Franklin was among those killed instantly. He was just 23 years of age.
Robert William Franklin was laid to rest, along with the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham.
John Thomas Abrey was born in Earl’s Court on 12th August 1867, the middle of five children to John and Anne Abrey. John Sr was a carpenter and labourer from Suffolk, and Anne was from Suffolk. By the time they married, however, the couple had settled in London.
When he left school, John Jr found work as a printer, but he was after bigger and better things and, on 4th October 1882, he joined the Royal Navy. He was only 15 at this point, and so was given the rank of Boy 2nd Class. His service document record that he was 5ft 2ins (1.57m) tall, had brown hair, brown eyes and a sallow complexion.
John received his training at HMS Ganges, the shore-based establishment near Ipswich, Suffolk, and gained promotion to Boy 1st Class. He then spent six months on the training ship HMS Impregnable, before being given his first posting on HMS Minotaur. He served aboard for just over a year, during which he turned 18, and so was formally inducted in the Royal Navy, and was given the rank of Ordinary Seaman.
At this point, John signed up for a period of ten years and, over that time, he served on board seven further ships, and was promoted to the rank of Able Seaman.
On 25th May 1890, John married Christiana Ann Hamshaw at All Saints Battle Bridge in Islington. Christiana had been married and widowed twice, and had two teenaged daughters. The couple settled down – as much as a sailor can – and had two children of their own, John and William.
In August 1895, having completed ten years’ naval service, Able Seaman Abrey was stood down to the Royal Naval Reserve. Over the next few years, he maintained this service, while finding work as a labourer.
When war broke out, John was recalled to active duty and, over the next three years, served on a number of vessels. Between each assignment, however, he returned to HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent, which had become his base. It was here that he was barracked in the summer of 1917.
It was a particularly busy for the base, and temporary accommodation was set up in the Drill Hall; this is where John was billeted.
On the night of 3rd September 1917, Chatham suddenly found itself in the firing line as a wave of German aircraft bombed the town. The Drill Hall received a direct hit, and Able Seaman Abrey was amongst those to be instantly killed. He had celebrated his 50th birthday the month before.
John Thomas Abrey was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham along with the other servicemen who had perished during the Chatham Air Raid that night.