John Francis Allan (pictured here as a child) was Vicky Hurwood’s great uncle. He was born in Richmond on 7 December 1886, the fifth son of Leonard and Mary Allan. During the First World War he served as Stoker Petty Officer J F Allan K/89 aboard HMS Formidable.
Following the outbreak of World War I, the ship was part of the 5th Battle Squadron which conducted operations in the English Channel. The ship and her men were was based at Portland and then Sheerness to guard against a possible German invasion. Despite reports of submarine activity, early in the morning of 1 January 1915, whilst on exercise in the English Channel, Formidable sank after being hit by two torpedoes from U-24. The loss of life amounted to 35 officers (including the Captain) and 512 men from a compliment of 780. She was the second British battleship to be sunk by enemy action during the First World War.
Stoker PO John Allan has no known grave and is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial and Richmond War Memorial.
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Researched by John Mills Herbert was born on the 16th June 1885 in India. He was baptised on the 8th July 1885 at St John’s Church in Meerut. He was the son of George Friend, a Lance Corporal in the Kings Own Scottish Borders. Nothing is known about Herbert’s childhood and early life. In fact the next that is known about Herbert is that he is a soldier with the Yorkshire Regiment. His service number, 9970, would indicate that he joined around December 1911 and was in the 2nd Battalion. He had been stationed at The Curragh at some point and while there he met his future wife Nora who lived nearby on the Harrison Estate in County Kildare. They were married on the 21st January 1916 while Herbert was home on leave from France. He attained the rank of Corporal on the 31st October 1914 and by October 1916 was a CSM. Herbert would survive the war and by 1919 he was part of the Expeditionary force sent to the Archangel area of Russia to assist the White Russians against the Bolsheviks. This campaign is well documented for the severe conditions and brutality. By September 1919 he was on his way home but in a poor state of health. Herbert and Nora settled in Reading and had two children, George and Enid. On the 14th January 1924 Herbert left the service’ He was given a presentation clock, the inscription reading ‘A token of esteem from members of the Mess…
Fiona Hall, Communications and Retail Manager at the Green Howards Museum submitted this story about one of the most important women of the First World War (in fact of any) era. I’m intrigued by this local hero – a complex character. There’s not enough space here to describe the many achievements of Gertrude Bell, and that’s not the point of this entry. Although I do recommend you take some time to acquaint yourself with her if you are not already familiar with this fascinating woman – archaeologist, mountaineer, one of the first women to gain a degree at Oxford (a First in History) but an anti-suffrage campaigner, the first to work for British military intelligence, colleague of TE Lawrence, and also the first to write a government white paper. She was born in 1868 into the sixth richest family in England, the granddaughter of the industrialist Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell, and lived in Redcar. When war broke out her request for a government posting to the Middle East was denied. Instead she volunteered with the Red Cross, taking charge of the missing and wounded office in Boulogne. Meanwhile her brother, Maurice, a career soldier and Boer War veteran was commanding the 4th Bn The Yorkshire Regiment on the western front. Imagine working in the environment Gertrude was working in- with the very possible chance she may have to ‘process’ information about the fate of her own brother. Maurice was in fact invalided home in 1916 and died in 1944. In…
Researched by John Mills. Born 27th of January 1880 Thomas was the son of Sergeant Valentine Goode also of the Yorkshire Regiment and his mother was called Helen. He was part of a large family; he had five brothers and two sisters. He enlisted in Richmond on the 27th of August 1897. Being a first rate rifle shot he devoted himself to musketry and became an instructor. He served throughout the whole of the Boer War with the 1st Battalion. He was awarded the Queen’s medal with 6 clasps and the King’s with 2. In 1905 he married Mary Agnes Grace Dobinson. In 1914 he was with the 1st Battalion in India, his campaign medals indicate he was in France some time after 1915. He became a 2nd lieutenant in the Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert’s). He survived the war and retired with the rank of Captain on the 8th of June 1920. He was awarded the M.B.E. on the 3rd of June 1919 for his services in connection with the war in India. He must have returned to the army to serve in World War 2 because he has campaign medals (World War 2 service medal and war medal). Perhaps this might have been in some form of instructor role.