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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Midshipman Herbert Lawson Riley Ann Luxmoore came to one of our drop-in sessions at The Station to tell us about her Uncle, Herbert Lawson Riley. At the age of 15 years and 7 months, Herbert is not only probably the youngest serviceman from Richmond to die during the First World War, but he was also the first. Herbert was the grandson of Sir John Lawson of Brough Hall. He initially attended the Royal Naval College at Osborne on the Isle of Wight before becoming a Cadet at Dartmouth Naval College. On the outbreak of war in August 1914 Herbert was appointed to the patrol cruiser HMS Aboukir, becoming a Midshipman shortly afterwards. HMS Aboukir, along with sister-ships HMS Hogue and HMS Cressy were sent to the Hook of Holland to patrol the North Sea coast. At 6.25am on 22nd September 1914 the Aboukir was hit by a German torpedo – while the cruiser was listing badly Herbert jumped into the sea and managed to make it to one of the lifeboats. Finding apparent safety on board the Cressy, Herbert and his surviving shipmates began to recover in the ship’s sickroom. Disaster struck a second time. HMS Cressy was hit twice by the same German submarine that had sunk the Aboukir. Herbert Lawson Riley was last seen clinging on to wooden wreckage along side one of his closest friends. All three patrolling cruisers were sunk with the loss of more than 1400 lives.
Gilbert Davison Pitt Eykyn was born at the France Lynch parsonage in Gloucestershire on the 22nd August 1881. He was baptised on the 29th September 1881. He was the only son of the late Reverend Pitt Eykyn. His father at the time of his death was Chaplain at Parel Bombay. Gilbert married Emily Constance on the 28th November 1902 and a son, Duncan Arthur, was born on the 11th August. The 1911 census shows that Duncan was born Poona in India. At some point after the family returned to England they moved to Northallerton in North Yorkshire. Gilbert was a career soldier. He was also a gifted linguist, having passed Army exams in Russian, French and Hindustani. He received his first commission with the 3rd Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in 1899. He then joined the 4th Manchester Battalion in May 1901 and was promoted to Lieutenant on the 24th December 1901. He joined the Royal Scots on the 4th February 1905 attaining the rank of Captain on the 26th June 1913. On the 13th February 1913 he was appointed adjutant to the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment in Northallerton. During his military career he had served in India and saw action in the 2nd Boer War (1899-1902). Gilbert was with the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment when they arrived in France just prior to the 2nd Ypres offensive. He was killed leading his men in the storming of St Julien on the 24th April 1915. He was 34 years old. Gilbert has…
Arthur John Rispin was born in Stockton-on-Tees in 1888. His father, Thomas was a stoker on the railways and his mother called Mary Ann attended to domestic work. He married Mary Elizabeth in 1910 – unfortunately they lost a child in the first year of their marriage. Few records survive relating to his service during the First World War, apart from those relating to his death on 9th October 1918 aged 31. In his photograph he is wearing a badge on his collar signifying that he served with the 12th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment which was the Pioneer Battalion. However upon his death he is listed as serving with the 9th Battalion. His effects and a war gratuity of £21 were left to his widow, Mary. Arthur is commemorated on the Town Memorial in Stockton, and the Busigny Communal Cemetery near St. Quentin, France.