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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Richard Oliver was 22 years old when he enlisted at Cramlington in September 1914. He was from Esh Winning, Crook, Co. Durham and was a miner. He enlisted in the Northumberland Fusiliers but was posted to the Yorkshire Regiment. He served in the 9th and 10th Battalions and whilst with the 10th Battalion in 1915 he was awarded the Military Medal. He served in France and Italy and became disabled due to the effects of gassing. He was discharged in March 1920 and was initially given a pension of 8 shillings a week, but this was subsequently withdrawn and his appeal rejected. He left the army as a Corporal, he served in France from 1915 to 1917 and on the Italian Front from November 1917 until December 1918.
The story of Private Arthur Bateman was compiled by Margeret Sparke, his granddaughter. Arthur was born in 1879 – the son of William and Mary Bateman of Battersea. He worked as a labourer and married Emily Jackman in September of 1903. After the outbreak of war Arthur joined the Yorkshire Regiment, enlisting at Kingston-on-Thames. His service was quite unusually as he was posted to a total of 4 battalions. He served with the 4th, 7th, 6th and 2nd battalions of the Yorkshire Regiment. He has two regimental numbers (9166/235033) – the earlier number suggests that he may have served with the 4th battalion before the war as a Territorial soldier. He died on 6th November 1918, just before the Armistice came into force and is buried in Bettrechies Communal Cemetery in France. Tragically, with Arthur’s death being so close to the end of the war, his widow Emily only found out that he had been killed in action while taking part in an Armistice street party.
Thomas Holman, great-grandfather of Carl Watts, the Green Howard Museum’s Learning Officer, worked as a boiler maker at the Wellington Foundry in Lincoln. At the outbreak of war the company which owned the foundry, Fosters, converted production from agricultural vehicles to war machinery. It was here that the first tanks were developed under the management of William Tritton. Secrecy was of the utmost importance, and the original code name for the revolutionary new vehicle was ‘The water-carrier for Mesopotamia and Russia’. Bill Rigby, chief draughtsman and designer recounted in the mid-1980s that eventually a group of the boiler makers came to is office, fed up with the long winded code name. Their suggestion that it should just be referred to as ‘the bl**dy tank!’ has stuck with the vehicle and its successors ever since. Thomas Holman is pictured with colleagues back row, third from the left in front of ‘Lurcher’ a Mark IV male tank in November 1917. His brother George Edward Holman served with the 6th battalion Lincolnshire Regiment at Gallipoli, Egypt and France. The efforts of the brothers were combined on 15 September 1916, as 6th Lincs were at the Battle of Flers Courcelette – the first battle to see the use of the tank.