John Fentonby Barker (1887-1914)
Hebburn born civilian fitter who was lost when HMS Fisgard II foundered
John Fentonby Barker was born in Hebburn on 19 June 1887. Little is known of his early life until he was recorded on the 1911 census as a boarder living at 17 Drummond Road, Landport, Portsmouth, Hampshire where he was working as an engine fitter. He married Annie Barker nee Blewden (born 1892) in Portsmouth in 1913. She was a car shed superintendent’s daughter originally from Liverpool, Lancashire. She was working as a confectionary shop assistant in 1911. The couple had a son they named Cecil John Barker in 1914.
Shortly after the outbreak of war John was engaged as a hired civilian fitter by the Admiralty at HM Dockyard Portsmouth. He worked on the repair ship HMS Fisgard II. This ship was formerly the ironclad-class HMS Invincible. She was no longer suitable for frontline war service and had been put on the disposal list. However, with the need to train the many men who volunteered for Navy service in 1914, she was despatched to Scapa Flow where she was to operate as a training ship. As she was under tow for this journey water was seen to be coming in and attempts were made to return to port but she foundered. John was one of 17 men who died including ten other civilian workers. His body was not recovered for burial and he is honoured on the Portsmouth Naval memorial.
Civil Parish: Hebburn
Birth date: 19-Jun-1887
Death date: 17-Sep-1914
Armed force/civilian: Civilian
Residence: Hebburn (Birthplace)
17 Drummond Road, Landport, Portsmouth, Hampshire (1911 census)
Employment: Engine Fitter (1911 census)
Family: Spouse: Annie Barker nee Blewden
Children: Cecil John Barker (b 1914)
Hired civilian fitter HM Dockyard, Portsmouth
Memorial(s): Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Contributed by David D, Stanley, Co Durham
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