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John George Bowman (1896-1916)

West Cornforth man served in the Royal Naval Reserve and was lost at the Battle of Jutland

John George Bowman was born in West Cornforth on 2 October 1896. His father was John Bowman (1864) a colliery stoneman originally from Framwellgate Moor. His mother was Margaret Bowman nee Pearson from Wingate. John was the sixth of ten children, nine boys and one girl. At the 1901 census the family were living at 20 Paddy’s Row, West Cornforth. In 1911 they were at 5 Railway Terrace, West Cornforth and John at the age of 15 was working as a belt boy on the screens at a coal mine.

John joined the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) becoming a stoker with the service number 6086S. As a member of the RNR he was mobilised on the outbreak of war and joined the crew of HMS Indefatigable, a battlecruiser. In early 1916 Indefatigable conducted relatively uneventful patrols of the North Sea. However, on 31 May 1916 during the Battle of Jutland, she was hit several times in the first minutes of the opening phase of the battlecruiser action. Shells from the German battlecruiser Von der Tann caused one explosion that ripped a hole in her hull while a second explosion hurled large pieces of the ship in the air. The ship was lost and John died along with 1,017 crewmates.

John’s body was not recovered for burial. He is honoured on the Chatham Naval Memorial. In his hometown he is remembered on the Plaque 1914-18, Drill Hall, Horden and the Roll of Honour 1914-18, St Mary’s Church, Horden.

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

Civil Parish: Cornforth

Birth date: 02-Oct-1896

Death date: 31-May-1916

Armed force/civilian: Navy

Residence: 20 Paddy’s Row, West Cornforth (1901 census)
5 Railway Terrace, West Cornforth (1911 census)

Employment: Belt boy on screens at coal mine (1911 census)

Family: Parents: John Bowman (1864), Margaret Bowman nee Pearson (1864)
Siblings: Joseph Bowman (1885), Isaac Bowman (1887), Henry Bowman (1890), William Bowman (1892), Edward Bowman, (1894), Oswald Bowman (1899), Eva Bowman, (1900), Thomas Bowman (1903), Robert Bowman (1907)

Military service:

HMS Indefatigable

Medal(s): Star
Victory Medal
British War Medal

Memorial(s): Chatham Naval Memorial
Plaque 1914-18, Drill Hall, Horden
Roll of Honour, St Mary’s Church, Horden

Gender: Male

Contributed by David D, Stanley, Co Durham