Tag Archives: Norfolk

CWG: Stoker 2nd Class Harry Barker

Stoker 2nd Class Harry Barker

Harry Barker is one of those people whose lives are likely to remain lost to time as very little information remains that can be directly connected to him.

The only document that can be directly attributed to him is his Royal Navy service record. This confirms Harry’s date and place of birth as 5th January 1896 in West Dereham, Norfolk and confirms that he was a farm labourer before enlisting.

Census records confirm that, in 1901 there was a Harry Barker living in that village. He was residing with his grandparents – Robert and Elisabeth Barker – their son, Cornelius, and five more of their grandchildren.

One of the Barkers’ grandsons, Sidney, appears next to a Harry Barker on the 1911 census. Both were inmates at the Downham Union Workhouse, as does a Cornelius Barker. It seems likely, therefore, that the three are connected, and that this is the Harry Barker who appears on the service records five years later.

Harry’s records show that he enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Stoker 2nd Class on 27th October 1916. He was 5ft 8ins (1.73m) tall, had brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion.

Stoker Barker was initially stationed at HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent. After six months he received his first ocean-going post, aboard the dreadnought battleship HMS Hibernia. He spent five months on board, before returning to Chatham.

He was billeted in the Drill Hall, which had been set up with temporary accommodation during 1917, when the barracks themselves became overcrowded.

On the 3rd September 1917, the German Air Force carried out one of its first night-time air raids on England: Chatham was heavily bombed and the Drill Hall received a direct hit. Stoker Barker was amongst those killed instantly. He was just 20 years of age.

Harry Barker was laid to rest, along with the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham.


CWG: Major Stafford Douglas

Major Stafford Douglas

Stafford Edmund Douglas was born on 4th January 1863, the second of four children to Stephen and Mary Douglas. Stafford came from a military family, his father having been a Captain in the Royal Navy. This led to a lot of travelling and, having been born in Donaghadee, County Down, he then moved to South Wales.

By the 1880s, when Stephen and Mary had set up home in Portsmouth, Stafford has started to carve out a career for himself, and was a Lieutenant in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, based at Edinburgh Castle.

Over the coming years, Lieutenant Douglas, who stood 5ft 8.5ins (1.74m) tall and also spoke French, travelled the world, serving in South Africa, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Hong Kong. By 1894 he had made Captain, and he finally retired in 1903, after nineteen years’ service.

On 29th April that year, at the age of 40, Stafford married Mary Louisa Harris. She was the daughter of an army colonel, and the couple wed in St George’s Church, Hanover Square, London. The couple set up home in Exeter, Devon, and went on to have two children – Violet and Stafford Jr.

At this point, Stafford’s trail goes cold. When war broke out in 1914, he was called back into duty, working as a Railway Transport Officer in Norwich. He continued in this role until 1919, before being stood down and returning home.

Stafford Edmund Douglas passed away on 15th February 1920, at the age of 57 years old, although no cause of death is immediately apparent. He was laid to rest in the Milton Road Cemetery in Weston-super-Mare, presumably where his family were, by this time, residing.


CWG: Corporal Norman Allard

Corporal Norman Allard

Norman Stanley Allard was born on 3rd December 1892 in the village of Corsley, Wiltshire, halfway between Frome and Warminster. The younger of two children, his parents were Benjamin and Mercy Allard. Benjamin was a farmer who passed away when his son was only 14 years old. Mercy, who was born in Frome, moved the family back to her home town and Norman found work as a clerk at a printing firm in the area.

War came to Europe and, in December 1915, Norman was called up. There is little specific information about his military service, although his records show that he was 5ft 9ins (1.75m) tall and had varicocele – enlarged veins in his scrotum – listed as Distinctive Marks.

Initially assigned to the King’s Royal Rifles, Private Allard spent the first year of his service on home soil. He was eventually dispatched to France in March 1917, serving there for a year. On 22nd March 1918, he was wounded in a gas attack, and medically evacuated back to England.

He was called back into service, and assigned to the 9th Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment. He remained on home soil, working as part of the Labour Corps in Cley-next-the-Sea in Norfolk. Sadly, however, it seems that his injuries were to prove too much, and the now Corporal Allard was discharged from military service after just three months.

At this point, Norman’s trail goes cold. He returned home, and passed away there on 13th March 1919. He was just 26 years of age.

Norman Stanley Allard was laid to rest in the graveyard of Holy Trinity Church. This became a family grave, and his mother and sister were also buried there when they passed in 1924 and 1940.


CWG: Deck Hand William Littlewood

Deck Hand William Littlewood

William Alfred Littlewood was born on 19th April 1882, the oldest of four children to Henry and Mary. Henry was a labourer for the gasworks in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, and the couple raised their family in the town.

William also found work with the local gasworks, and this is who he was employed by when, on 19th December 1903, he married Evelyn Harriet Youman. The couple set up home near the centre of the town, and went on to have four children.

When war broke out, William was keen to play his part. On 17th August 1914, he enlisted as a Private in the Army Service Corps and, within a couple of week, was in France. He spent six months on the Western Front, before returning to home soil. The reason for this return to England was an inflammation of the middle ear, and the resulting deafness led to his discharge from the army in June 1915.

William was not to be deterred, however, and within a matter of weeks, he had enlisted again, this time volunteering for the Royal Naval Reserve as a Deck Hand. Over the next two years, he served on a number of different ships, each time returning to HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent.

In August 1917, Deck Hand Littlewood disembarked HMS Acteon, and returned to his shore base. The Dockyard was particularly busy that summer, and the large number of extra servicemen meant that William 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; Deck Hand Littlewood was among those killed instantly. He was 35 years of age.

William Alfred Littlewood was laid to rest, along with the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham. Tragically, the Navy Death Records state that he was Buried as unidentified in one of the following graves: 516, 522, 642, 735, 935, 937 or 948.


CWG: Stoker 1st Class John Loose

Stoker 1st Class John Loose

John Robert Loose was born on 3rd March 1891 in the village of Brancaster on the North Norfolk coast. One of seven children his parents were John and Agnes Loose.

John Loose Sr was a fisherman, as were most of the family’s neighbours and the sea was definitely in his oldest son’s blood. Within days of his eighteenth birthday, he had enlisted in the Royal Navy for a 12 year term. His service records show that he was 5ft 9ins (1.75m) tall, with light brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion.

Stoker 2nd Class Loose’s first assignment was on board HMS Acheron and, over the next year he learnt his trade on board her, HMS Vindictive and HMS Hawke. In June 1910, he was serving on HMS Inflexible, and received a promotion to Stoker 1st Class.

In the lead up to the outbreak of the First World War, John served on five further vessels. In between ocean assignments he was based on board HMS Pembroke, the shore-based establishment based at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent.

While he seemed diligent and hard working, Stoker Loose was not without his flaws, and had a couple of run-ins with authority. In June 1912 he was detained for 90 days for absence, drunkenness and for striking a Leading Seaman. Eighteen months later he was imprisoned for a further 28 days for being absent beyond his allotted leave.

When hostilities commenced, Stoker Loose was serving on board HMS Bacchante, an armoured cruiser that was part of the Royal Navy’s Mediterranean fleet. He spent a total of eighteen months on board, returning to Chatham in February 1916.

A further lengthy posting followed, as he was assigned to HMS Calliope, a light cruiser that served in the North Sea, and which was involved in the Battle of Jutland later that spring. Again, Stoker Loose’s record was not without blemish: he spend a week in the brig, although there is no confirmation of his misdemeanour this time around.

By August 1917, John was back on dry land in Kent. HMS Pembroke was a busy place that summer, and, with its barracks having reached capacity, Chatham Drill Hall was used as temporary accommodation. This is where John found himself billeted.

The German Air Force, by this point was trying to minimise the losses it was suffering during raids it carried out in daytime. Instead, it trialled night flights and, on 3rd September 1917, Chatham found itself in their flight path. The Drill Hall Stoker Loose was sleeping in received a direct hit, and he was killed. He was just 26 years old.

The 98 victims of the Chatham Air Raid were laid to rest in Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham, walking distance from the Drill Hall where John Robert Loose had been living.


CWG: Stoker 1st Class Charles Lemmon

Stoker 1st Class Charles Lemmon

Charles Lemmon was born in Norwich, Norfolk on 12th July 1892. He was one of ten children and the son of bricklayer Henry Lemmon and his wife Sophia.

When Charles left school, he found work as an errand boy; by the time of the 1911 census, he had moved to Cambridge. He was living with John Buol, a Swiss confectioner and pastry chef who had set up a restaurant in the centre of the city, opposite King’s College.

The move from Norfolk to Cambridgeshire must has ignited a yearning for travel, however. Within a year, Charles had enlisted in the Royal Navy, and was taken on as a Stoker 2nd Class. His naval records show that he stood at 5ft 2ins (1.57m) tall, had brown hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion. It was also noted that he had a scar on his left leg.

Stoker Lemmon was set to see the world. After his initial training at HMS Pembroke – the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent – he was assigned to HMS Berwick, an armoured cruiser that sailed between England and the Americas.

The following year, Charles was reassigned to HMS Swiftsure, and received a promotion to Stoker 1st Class. He returned to HMS Pembroke in May 1916, and, after a couple of months on land, boarded HMS Titania, a submarine depot ship that had recently seen action in the Battle of Jutland.

Stoker Lemmon spent just under a year on the Titania, before again returning to Chatham in the spring of 1917. HMS Pembroke was a crowded place that summer, Charles was billeted in temporary accommodation in the dockyard’s Drill Hall.

On 3rd September, the German Air Force was trialling night raids on English locations; Chatham found itself in the line of fire. The Drill Hall received a direct hit, and Stoker 1st Class Lemmon was killed, along with close to 100 other servicemen resting there. He was just 25 years of age.

The servicemen who lost their lives in the Chatham Air Raid, including Charles Lemmon, were laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in nearby Gillingham.


CWG: Carpenter’s Crew Roland Mayes

Carpenter’s Crew Roland Mayes

Roland William John Mayes was born on 29th September 1895 in the Norfolk village of Fundenhall. He was the seventh of ten children to Herbert and Anna Mayes, and was the first son. Herbert was a carpenter, and this was a trade his son was to follow him into, finding work at a local piano factory.

By 1914, war was looming, and Roland wanted to put his skills to good use. He enlisted in the Royal Navy on 11th March 1914, joining a carpenter’s crew at HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent. Roland’s service records show that he stood at 5ft 7ins (1.7m) tall, had brown hair, grey eyes and a sallow complexion.

Crewman Mayes’ first sea-bound assignment was aboard HMS Patrol; she was a cruiser that provided defence for the east coast of England. The vessel was badly damaged during the German bombardment of Hartlepool in December that year; Roland remained on board for more than three years.

In August 1917, Crewman Mayes returned to Chatham. HMS Pembroke was a crowded place that summer, additional accommodation was made available in the dockyard’s Drill Hall, and this is where Roland was billeted.

On the night of the 3rd September, the German Air Force was trialling night raids on English locations; Chatham found itself in the direct line of fire. The Drill Hall received a direct hit, and Carpenter’s Crewman Mayes was killed, along with close to 100 other servicemen resting there. He was just 21 years of age.

Along with 97 other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, Roland William John Mayes was laid to rest three days later in the Woodlands Cemetery in nearby Gillingham.


CWG: Sapper Harry Paterson

Sapper Harry Paterson

Harry Bruce Paterson was born towards the end of 1893, one of two children to John and Jane Paterson. John worked at Chatham Dockyard fitting ships’ engines, and the family lived in a small terraced house close to the centre of Gillingham in Kent.

When Harry left school, he became a plumber’s apprentice, soon qualifying as a full plumber.

He married Ellen Keeler in 1906, and the couple lived a short walk away from his parents’. They went on to have four children, Lilly, Harry Jr, Mabel and Kathleen.

War was on the horizon, but Harry’s military service records are a bit sketchy.

He enlisted as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers on 14th July 1915, and served in France. He attained the Victory and British Medals as well as the 1915 Star.

Sadly, Sapper Paterson’s health seems to have been impacted by his service. In January 1918 he was invalided back to England and admitted to the military hospital at the army camp in Thetford, Norfolk. Diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis, he quickly succumbed to the disease, and passed away on 4th February 1918. He was 34 years old.

Harry Bruce Paterson lies at rest in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham, just a few minutes’ walk from both his parents and his widow and children.


Sapper Harry Paterson
(from ancestry.co.uk)