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John Alfred Osguthorpe (1899-1916)

Pit boy from Middlestone Moor served in the Royal Navy at the Battle of Jutland

John Alfred Osguthorpe was born on 31 December 1898 in Middlestone Moor near Spennymoor. He was the first son of Herbert Osguthorpe (1870-1954) from Sheffield, Yorkshire and Elizabeth Osguthorpe nee Smith (1874-1951) a coal miner’s daughter from West Rainton. They had one further son in 1905 who they named Herbert.

The family lived in 14 Edward Street, Spennymoor in 1901 where the father worked from home as a photographer. By 1911 Herbert senior was working as a photographer and picture framer with premises at 18 King Street, Spennymoor where the family also lived.

On 14 April 1915, having been working as a pit boy, John joined the Royal Navy at the age of 16 years three months. He was given the service number J39934 and the initial rank of boy 2nd class. His record describes his physical appearance as being five foot one and a half inches tall with a 33 inch chest. He had brown hair, blue eyes, a fresh complexion and a scar on his left forearm.

John spent his first three months at HMS Ganges a shore based training establishment at Shotley, Suffolk. He was promoted to boy 1st class on 16 July 1915 and it was at this rank that he joined the crew of HMS Black Prince on 26 July 1915. Black Prince was an armoured cruiser and was part of the Grand Fleet during World War One, based first on Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands and later at Rosyth on the Firth of Forth.

Black Prince took part in the Battle of Jutland in May 1916. During the battle Black Prince was hit by at least twelve heavy shells and several smaller ones sinking within 15 minutes. There were no survivors from Black Prince with John being one of the crew of 857 killed.

John’s body was not recovered for burial and his death is marked on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. He is also remembered locally on the Cenotaph 1914-18, Cheapside, Spennymoor; Roll of Honour 1914-18, St Paul’s Church, Spennymoor; and in the Book of Remembrance 1914-18, Town Hall, Spennymoor.

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

Civil Parish: Whitworth

Birth date: 31-Dec-1898

Death date: 31-May-1916

Armed force/civilian: Navy

Residence: 14 Edward Street, Spennymoor (1901 census)
18 King Street, Spennymoor (1911 census)

Employment: Pit boy (1915, Royal Navy service record)

Family: Parents: Herbert Osguthorpe (1870-1954), Elizabeth Osguthorpe nee Smith (1874-1951)
Siblings: Herbert Osguthorpe (1905)

Military service:

Boy 2nd class, 14 April 1915
Boy 1st class, 16 July 1915
HMS Ganges , April to July 1915
HMS Black Prince, 26 July 1915 to 31 May 1916

Medal(s): Star
Victory Medal
British War Medal

Memorial(s): Plymouth Naval Memorial
Book of Remembrance 1914-18, Town Hall, Spennymoor
Cenotaph 1914-18, Cheapside, Spennymoor
Roll of Honour 1914-18, St Paul’s Church, Spennymoor

Gender: Male

Contributed by David D, Stanley, Co Durham