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  • Photograph published in the Worksop Guardian and now in the Borough of Worksop Roll of Honour of the Great War 1914 - 1918 held in Worksop Library
Person Details
10 Aug 1898
Osberton estate Bilby Nottinghamshire
John was the eldest son of John and Susan Eliza Duckmanton (née Price). John snr. was born on 24 March 1863 in Warsop, Nottinghamshire. Susan Eliza (Eliza) Price was born in Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire, on 10 January 1865, the daughter of Thomas and Susan Price, and was baptised at the parish church of Holy Trinity on 12 January the same year. John and Eliza were married at Warsop SS Peter & Paul on 7 February 1887 and had six children one of whom died in childhood: Jessie b. Warsop birth registered 1888 (J/F/M) bap. SS Peter & Paul 5 February 1888; Edith b. Sheffield 30 January 1890 bap. Sheffield St Michael & All Angels 26 February 1890; Grace b. 3 June 1895 (reg. East Retford) bap. St John Scoffen with Osberton 30 June 1895 d. 1899 (J/A/S East Retford); Harriet b. Sheffield 1892; John b. Bilby 10 August 1898 bap. St John Scoffen with Osberton 4 September 1898 and Henry b. Bilby 3 December 1900 bap. St John 30 December 1900. John and Susan were living in Market Warsop when their first child, Jessie, was born in 1888 but by 1891 John (28), a gas stoker, and Susan (26) had moved to 62 Providence Road, Sheffield, with their two children Jessie (3) and Edith (1). Also in the household was John's brother, Arthur Duckmanton (21 b. Warsop) a general labourer. Their daughter Harriet was born in Sheffield the following year. They had returned to Nottinghamshire by 1895 when their third daughter, Grace, was born in 1895 (d. 1899) and in 1901 were recorded on the census living on Bilby Lane, Bilby near Retford. John was a woodman working on the Osberton estate of which the hamlet of Bilby was part. Only four of their five surviving children were still living at home: Edith, Harriet, John and Henry. The eldest child, Jessie (13), was living in Hodsock, Nottinghamshire, where she was a general domestic servant in the household of Edward Lister, a farm bailiff, and his family. John was still living in Bilby and working on the Osberton estate in 1911. Only three of his children were still living at home: Edith, John and Henry. John was to join his father working on the estate as a wood cutter before joining the Royal Navy in 1915. The rural setting where John was bought up with his brother and sisters, was completely different to the life he led after the First World War broke out. The CWGC record gives John's parents address as 41 Anston Avenue, Worksop, and they were still living at the same address in 1939 when the England & Wales Register was compiled; John was a retired council labourer. John and Susan continued to live at the same address until their deaths, Susan Eliza in 1940 (J/F/M Worksop) and John on 15 November 1946. John made a Will and probate was awarded to his sons-in law Thomas West Moulds (Edith) and William Thomas Brown (Jessie).
09 Jul 1917
3043457 - CWGC Website
Able Seaman
HMS Vanguard Royal Navy
John joined the Royal Navy (number J/35034) as a Boy 2nd Class on 28th January 1915 aged 16. Basic training was carried out at the shore based establishment HMS Ganges, 28 January 1915-12 May 1915 (Boy 1st Class 12 May). He was attached to Pembroke I on 13 May 1915 before joining HMS Vanguard, a St Vincent-class Dreadnought battleship, on 14 May 1915. John enlisted on his 18th birthday on 10th August 1916 and was rated Ordinary Seaman the same date and rated Able Seaman 10 months later. Vanguard (4th Battle Squadron) took part in the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916 when John Duckmanton was still a Boy 1st Class. This was the largest Naval battle of the war with nearly 7,000 Royal Navy casualties, 14 ships sunk and many ships severely damaged, although Vanguard did not suffer damage or casualties. In 1917, HMS 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 all but two men were killed including John Duckmanton. His service record was annotated: ‘NP5733/17. Killed 9 July 17 when HMS Vanguard was sunk.' John's body was not recovered for burial and he is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. The wreck of HMS Vanguard was heavily salvaged after the war but is now a designated war grave under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.
He is also commemorated on the Worksop WW1 memorial and the place where he grew up on the Osberton Estate in Scofton with Osberton Church. HMS 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 (German: the Battle of Skagerrak). H.M.S Vanguard, with John Duckmanton on board as part of the 800+ crew, was the 16th ship in the line of 24 facing the Germans. She fired 80x12 inch shells and contributed to the sinking of the SMS Wiesbaden. Although the German High Seas Fleet sank 14 British ships (plus one which foundered the next day) with nearly 7,000 casualties overall (German Fleet losses 11 ships, casualties 3058), the German High Seas Fleet retreated to port and never came out 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. Worksop Guardian 20 July 1917 - 'Seaman John Duckmanton: '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.'
Remembered on


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