John Moses (1892-1916)
Craghead man served as a stoker in the Royal Navy on HMS Invincible at the Battle of Jutland
John Moses was born on 23 June 1892. His mother was Elizabeth Moses (1873-1913) who was from Beamish. She was not married at the time of John’s birth but married Hugh Hilland (1867-1913), an onsetter in Chester-le-Street, in the last quarter of 1892. John appears in the 1901 and 1911 censuses as John Moses Hilland, the eldest of seven children in the family. In 1901 they lived in 52 Thomas Street, Craghead and by 1911 had moved to 23 William Street, Craghead. Both Elizabeth and Hugh died in 1913.
It may have been the case that although brought up as a part of the Hilland family John was not Hugh’s natural son. This could be one explanation for John using the surname Moses when he joined the Royal Navy on 20 February 1914. He signed up to serve for five years in the Navy followed by seven years in the Royal Fleet Reserve. He was initially rated as a stoker second class and underwent training at HMS Victory shore base in Portsmouth, Hampshire until the end of July 1914.
On 3 August 1914, the day before war was declared, John was posted to HMS Invincible, a battlecruiser and the lead ship of her class of three. As a member of Invincible crew he would have seen action at the Battle of Heligoland Bight operation on 28 August 1914 and the Battle of the Falklands in November and December 1914.
By 1916 HMS Invincible was the flagship of the third battlecruiser squadron in the Grand Fleet. On 31 May 1916 the squadron acted as the fleet’s heavy scouting force during the Battle of Jutland. She was destroyed by a midships magazine explosion after her ‘Q’ turret was penetrated, effectively blowing the ship in half. She is reported to have sunk within 90 seconds. John was lost in this action along with 1,026 officers and crewmen.
John’s body was not recovered for burial. He is honoured on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial as John Moses. He is also remembered locally on the Plaque 1914-18, Council School, Craghead as John Hilland. Another hint of possible family difficulties is that the Navy informed a friend called Cissie Currie of Dean Street, Newcastle of John’s death.
John Moses was awarded the1914-15 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal for his service in World War One. The naval medal roll notes that his medals were sent to a brother.
Civil Parish: Craghead
Birth date: 23-Jun-1892
Death date: 31-May-1916
Armed force/civilian: Navy
Residence: 52 Thomas Street, Craghead (1901 census)
23 William Street, Craghead (1911 census)
Employment: Shaft bottom coal miner (1911 census)
Miner (1916 service record)
Family: Parents: Hugh Hilland (1867-1913), Elizabeth Hilland nee Moses (1873-1913)
Siblings: Emmerson Hilland (1895), Selby Hilland (1897), Ruth Hilland (1899), Edith Hilland (1905), Hugh Hilland (1907), Elizabeth Hilland (1907)
Stoker 2nd class, 20 February 1914
Stoker 1st class, 1 July 1915
HMS Invincible, August 1914 - July 1916
Medal(s): 1914-15 Star
British War Medal
Memorial(s): Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Plaque 1914-18, Council School, Craghead
Contributed by David D, Stanley, Co Durham
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