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John Sandilands (1885-1916)

Jarrow fitter served in the Royal Navy on HMS Defence at the Battle of Jutland

John Sandiland’s naval record shows that he was born on 25 February 1885, although census records would suggest he was born four years earlier in 1881. His father was Robert Charles Gibson Sandilands (1854-1932), a Scottish coppersmith. His mother was Mary Jane Sandilands nee Ennis (1860-1941), originally from South Shields. His parents married in South Shields in 1877 and had a family of seven children made up of five girls and two boys. In 1891 the family lived at 42 Monckton Terrace, Jarrow and at the 1901 census had moved to 24 Station Street, Jarrow.

John married Henrietta Heywood (1880-1955) in South Shields in 1905. She was a wheelwright’s daughter originally from Carlisle. The 1911 census shows them living at 49 Stothard Street, Jarrow. It shows that since their marriage they had had one child who was no longer living. John’s occupation is recorded as ship engine fitter at this census.

On 19 March 1912 John joined the Royal Navy to serve for 12 years. He was given the service number M4276 and rated as acting engine room artificer 4th class. He entered the service at HMS Vivid II in Devonport, the stoker and engine room artificers training school, where he spent his first four months. John saw service on HMS Adventure, HMS Leander and HMS Egmont before being posted to HMS Defence on 10 December 1913 where he served for the next two and a half years.

HMS Defence was a minotaur class armoured cruiser that served in the Mediterranean station before being transferred to the Grand Fleet. She was participating in the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916 when two salvoes hit her rear magazine. This led to a fire that detonated her secondary magazines causing an explosion that led to the total loss of her crew of 903 men.

John’s body was not recovered for burial. He is honoured on the Plymouth Naval Memorial and locally in Jarrow on the Roll of Honour 1914-18 Dunn Street Boy’s School and on the Triptych at St Paul’s Church.

John Sandilands was awarded the Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal for his service in World War One.

Civil Parish: Jarrow

Birth date: 25-Feb-1885

Death date: 31-May-1916

Armed force/civilian: Navy

Residence: 42 Monckton Terrace, Jarrow (1891 census)
24 Station Street, Jarrow (1901 census)
49 Strothard Street, Jarrow (1911 census)

Education: Dunn Street Boy’s School

Employment: Ship fitter engine (1911 census)
Fitter and turner (1912 Royal Navy service record)

Family: Parents: Robert Charles Gibson Sandilands (1854-1932), Mary Jane Sandilands nee Ennis (1860-1941)
Siblings: Sarah Sandilands, Jeanie Sandilands, Robert Sandilands, Frances Sandilands, Isabella Sandilands, Rose A Sandilands
Spouse: Henrietta Sandilands nee Heywood

Military service:

Acting Engine Room Artificer 4th class, 189 March 1912
Engine Room Artificer 4th class, 10 December 1913
Engine Room Artificer 3rd class, 10 June 1915
HMS Defence, 10 December 1913 - 31 May 1916

Medal(s): Star
Victory Medal
British War Medal

Memorial(s): Plymouth Naval Memorial
Roll of Honour, Dunn Street Boy’s School, Jarrow
Triptych, St Paul’s Church, Jarrow

Gender: Male

Contributed by David D, Stanley, Co Durham