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  • Photo originally published in the Worksop Guardian and now in the Borough of Worksop Roll of Honour of the Great War 1914 - 1918 in Worksop Library
Person Details
10 Aug 1898
Osberton estate
Son of John Duckmanton of 41 Anston Ave, Worksop, Notts (CWGC). John Duckmanton was the eldest son of John Duckmanton, a woodman on the Osberton Estate, and Eliza his wife and grew up at the family home in the estate village of Bilby. He had volunteered for the Navy at the end of 1914 and served in H.M.S Vanguard. John Duckmanton was born 10th August 1898 in the little hamlet of Bilby, part of the Osberton estate where his father, John Duckmanton, had been employed for many years as a woodman and John junior, a wood cutter. This rural setting where John was bought up with his brothers and sisters, were completely different from the life he led after the First World War broke out.
09 Jul 1917
3043457 - CWGC Website
Able Seaman
HMS Vanguard Royal Navy
John joined the Royal Navy (number J/35034). He enlisted as a boy rating on 28th January 1915 age 16. His training was carried out on the shore based ships, HMS Ganges and HMS Pembroke. After his training period he joined the Battleship HMS Vangard in August 1915 and 9 months later, Vanguard was involved in the Battle of Jutland when John Duckmanton was still a boy rating. This was the largest Naval battle of the war with over 6000 Royal Naval servicemen were killed with many ships being sunk. Vanguard was a part of the action from beginning to end, but did not suffer any damage or casualties. On his 18th birthday on the 10th August 1916 he was promoted to Ordinary Seaman as this was the age considered to join the man’s service and 10 months later he was rated as an Able Seaman. In 1917, H M S Vanguard was anchored in Scapa Flow as part of the Grand Fleet. Just before midnight, on Monday, July 9th, with over 800 sailors aboard, there was a terrific explosion. The explosion was probably caused by a stokehold fire heating cordite in one of the magazines serving the gun turrets. Vanguard sank almost immediately and staggering 843 men were killed including, John Duckmanton, with only two survivors. John is recorded on the Roll of Honour memorials at Plymouth Naval Memorial, Worksop WW1 memorial and the place where he grew up on the Osberton Estate in Scofton with Osberton Church. An entry in the Worksop Guardian read as follows;- Seaman John Duckmanton, Worksop Guardian 20 July 1917: 'Worksop has its heroes on sea as well as on land. Many of our brave lads are serving their country in the Navy, and some alas, have made the supreme sacrifice. To the latter must now be added the name of John Duckmanton, seaman, of H. M. S. Vanguard. He was one of the victims who went down in the explosion when the ship was lost. Duckmanton would have been 19 years of age next month. He was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. John Duckmanton, 41, Anston Avenue, and formally for 24 years on the Osberton Estate. He had been in the Navy 2½ years and was in the Jutland Battle, so his career, short as it was, was one of great adventure. He was a fine lad, a credit to his family and himself. Frank, brave and fearless, he was loved by his people and liked by his associates. We are sure that his parents and other relatives have the sympathy of our readers.'
H.M.S Vanguard was one of the new style big gun Dreadnaught battleships. This 19,250 tons ship had been built by Vickers in 1909 with turbine engines and Babcock boilers with ten 12in. guns with supplement firepower including torpedo tubes. The only major sea battle between the British Home Fleet and the German High Seas fleet took place off the coast of Denmark on the 31st May 1916 and was given the title The Battle of Jutland. H.M.S Vanguard, with John Duckmanton on board as part of the 800 man crew, was the 16th ship in the line of 24 facing the Germans. She fired off 80 12 inch shells and contributed to the sinking of the SMS Wiesbaden. Although the Germans managed to sink several British ships her Navy retreated to port and never came our for offensive action for the rest of the war. On 9 July 1917 Vanguard carried out exercises at sea before return to the anchorage at Scapa Flow on the Orkney Isles. At 9.30 pm a sheet of bright flame short high in the air from aft of her foremast followed by a column of flame and then a colossal explosion. 804 men, including John Duckmanton, were killed. It is hoped that he was killed by being vapourised or concussed during the first explosions as the alternative methods of death in a ship which had so suffered are too awful to contemplate. The official Court of Enquiry’s main conclusion was that the loss may have been due to the ignition of cordite due to an avoidable cause or due to abnormal deterioration. Cordite was used as a propellant in the guns and after the near running out of shells during the Battle of the Falklands early in 1915 had been stored in non suitable areas of ships to allow more room in the magazine for shells. During the war 11 other ships of Great Britain and her allies were lost in similar circumstances. HMS Vanguard lies 111 feet down off the north shore of the Isle of Flotta and is a war grave; divers regularly replace a White Ensign on the wreck. A wreath was laid over the wreck and commemorations held in Lyness and in St Magnus’ Cathedral, Kirwall, on the centenary of the loss of the ship.
Remembered on


  • Photo originally published in the Worksop Guardian and now in the Borough of Worksop Roll of Honour of the Great War 1914 - 1918 in Worksop Library
    John Duckmanton - Photo originally published in the Worksop Guardian and now in the Borough of Worksop Roll of Honour of the Great War 1914 - 1918 in Worksop Library