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James Henry Allen

Stoker K/29689, James Henry Allen, Royal Navy


James Henry Allen was born, according to his service record, at Wooburn Green, Bucks on 21 February 1897, the son of the son of Richard Allen and his wife Ada née Castle. However, it seems that James was a little confused about his birth. His parents were from Wooburn Green and had married there in 1889, but they had moved to Silverton in Devon shortly before James arrived - in 1898 according to his birth registration. His father was an engine fitter and seems to have moved around the country following his trade. By 1911 the family had reached Berkshire, living at 81 Belmont Road, Reading. By the time of their son's death they had moved again, to 'Oakdene', 33 London Road, Thatcham.


James was employed as a stableman, very possibly in Midgham, for his name is on Midgham's war memorial, not Thatcham's.


On 24 November 1915 he joined the Royal Navy at Chatham for 12 years (according to his version of his birth he was 18. His record shows that he was 5 feet 8 inches tall had a chest size of 37 inches, brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion - and a scar on his right ankle.


HMS Kildangan, sister ship of HMS Kildorrey

HMS Kildangan, sister ship of

HMS Kildorrey in 'dazzle' camouflage (designed to break up the outline of the ship as seen though a submarine's periscope).

[IWM via Wikipedia]

His initial training took place at HMS Pembroke, the shore establishment at the Royal Naval Barracks, Chatham. Following his basic training James was posted, on 28 March 1916, to HMS Wallington, another shore establishment on the Humber, but his time was not all spent on shore. Wallington was an Auxiliary Patrol Base out which a number of small vessels carried out patrols at sea, James became part of the crew of an aging small river class destroyer, HMS Ouse. HMS Ouse was taken out of service in early 1917 and James went back on to the books of HMS Pembroke. On 10 October 1917 he was posted to HMS Hecla, a depot ship that acted as the base for the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, including HMS Mosquito on which James served.


His next posting (8 April 1918) to HMS Idaho (a shore station at Milford Haven) saw him serving on a smaller ship, the Kildorrey, a Kil class gunboat. From Milford Haven the Kildorrey was moved to a Liverpool shore station (HMS Eaglet). On 1 November 1918 James left the Kildorrey and moved ashore. This may have been due to illness, certainly he was admitted to Hemmingford Street Military Hospital, Liverpool, where he died of pneumonia (probably a victim of the influenza epidemic) on 6 December 1918.


His body was returned to Thatcham where he was buried in the town cemetery in plot 881.


James Allen's grave

James Allen's grave in Thatcham Cemetery.

Newbury Weekly News, 19 December 1918


The Funeral took place on Thursday at the cemetery, of James Henry, fourth son of Mr and Mrs Allen, of Oakdene, London-road. "Jim," as, perhaps, he was best known, was with Mr Davind Collings, in the boot repairing, for some 12 months. He joined the Navy about three years ago, where he still was whenhe contracted influenza, seven weeks ago. He had seem service, principally on the "Ouse," the "Mosquito," and lastly the Kildorry." The coffin was inscribed: "James Henry Allen, died Dec 6th 1918, aged 21 years," and was borne from his home draped with the Union Jack, and covered with floral tokens. The first part of the service was held in the Parish Church, the Rev H Pickels officiating. The mourners were: Mr and Mrs Allen (father and mother), Ada, Fred, Annie, Bertie (brothers and sisters), Willie and Nellie, Arthur and Leila, Mrs Collings and Mrs Frances, etc. The flowers included, an anchor from father, mother, brothers and sisters, uncle and aunt, Mr and Mrs J M Henry, Mrs Collongs and Mr Fred Brooks, Mrs E and Mrs F Williams. Another brother is serving in the Army and one in the Navy. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr H D Mayers.


James Allen is commemorated on the Midgham war memorial and on the roll of honour in St Mary's church, Thatcham.


[Thanks to Carol & Valerie Pike for their contribution to this story.]

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 Died this day:
08 August 1916
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