[Skip to content]

Person Details
30 Apr 1889
Hucknall Torkard
John Thomas was the eldest son of Thomas Murden and Harriet Ellis (nee Straw). Thomas and Harriet were married in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, on 23 July 1882. According to the information Thomas gave on the 1911 Census, they had had had ten children of whom only nine were still living at the time of the census. Nine children were named on the census between 1891 and 1911: Elizabeth Ann, John Thomas, Sarah Alice, William, Ethel, Samuel, Lottie, Joseph and Rose. Thomas was a tinsmith and on each census Harriet was working as a lace hand. In 1891 Thomas (32) and Harriet (30) were living in the parish of St Mary, Nottingham, with their four children; Elizabeth (6), John (4), Sarah (3) and William (1). Also in the household were Thomas' brother, George (24) and a niece, Kate Bangley (9). Thomas and Harriet had five more children by 1901; Ethel (8), Samuel (7), Lottie (4), Joseph (4) and Rose (1 month). In 1911 they were living at 6 King's Place, Barker Gate, Nottingham, and only the five youngest children were still at home. However, another family was boarding with them: Charles Shaw (23), his wife Alice (23) and their daughter Elizabeth (10 months). John Thomas had joined the Royal Navy three years previously and in 1911 was serving in HMS St George. John's father died in Nottingham in 1912 (registered Jul/Aug/Sep) and at the time of John's death two years later his mother was living at 6 King's Place, Woolpack Lane, Nottingham. However, she later moved to 26 Crown Street, Blue Bell Hill, Nottingham, the address given on the CWGC record.
He was a railway porter when he joined the Royal Navy in 1908. He transferred to the Royal Fleet Reserve on 9 March 1913 and was mobilized in July 1914.
22 Sep 1914
3048921 - CWGC Website
He was living in Nottingham when he was mobilized.
Stoker 1st Class
HMS Cressy Royal Navy
(RFR/CH/B/9481) John joined the Royal Navy on 9 March 1908 on a 12 year engagement (five years with the Fleet and seven years in Reserve), transferring to the Royal Fleet Reserve on 9 March 1913. Ships and shore establishments: HMS Acheron, 9 March 1908-11 August 1908 (Stoker 2nd Class); Pembroke II (12 August 1908-16 August 1908); HMS Duncan, 17 August-8 August 1910 (Stoker 1st Class 4 March 1909); Pembroke II, 9 August 1910-21 October 1910; HMS St George, 22 October 1910-2 May 1911; (-), 3 May 1911-19 May 1911, HMS Black Prince, 20 May 1911-22 April 1912, Pembroke II, 23 April 1912-30 April 1912; HMS Blenheim, 1 May 1912-3 March 1913; Pembroke I, 4 March 1913-8 March 1913. He transferred to RFR Chatham B.9481, 9 March 1913. He was mobilised on 25 July 1914 and then served: Pembroke II, 25 July 1914-28 July 1914; HMS Cressy, 29 June 1914-22 September 1914. His RN record is annotated: ‘NP2259 DD [Discharged Dead] 22 Sept. 1914. Drowned in North Sea when HMS Cressy was sunk by German submarine.’ John's body was not recovered for burial and he is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial. He qualified for the 1914 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. 'Live Bait Squadron': HMS Cressy was assigned to the 7th Cruiser Squadron shortly after the outbreak of war in August 1914. The squadron was tasked with patrolling the Broad Fourteens of the North Sea in support of a force of destroyers and submarines based at Harwich which protected the eastern end of the English Channel from German warships attempting to attack the supply route between England and France. During the Battle of Heligoland Bight on 28 August, the ship was part of Cruiser Force 'C', in reserve off the Dutch coast, and saw no action. After the battle, Rear Admiral Arthur Christian ordered Cressy to take aboard 165 unwounded German survivors from the badly damaged ships of Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt's Harwich Force. Escorted by her sister Bacchante, she set sail for the Nore to unload their prisoners. On the morning of 22 September, Cressy and her sisters, Aboukir and Hogue, were on patrol without any escorting destroyers as these had been forced to seek shelter from bad weather. The three sisters were steaming in line abreast about 2,000 yards (1,800 m) apart at a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). They were not expecting submarine attack, but had lookouts posted and one gun manned on each side to attack any submarines sighted. The weather had moderated earlier that morning and Tyrwhitt was en route to reinforce the cruisers with eight destroyers. U-9, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto Weddigen, had been ordered to attack British transports at Ostend, but had been forced to dive and take shelter from the storm. On surfacing, she spotted the British ships and moved to attack. She fired one torpedo at 06:20 at Aboukir which struck her on the starboard side; the ship's captain thought he had struck a mine and ordered the other two ships to close to transfer his wounded men. Aboukir quickly began listing and capsized around 06:55 despite counter flooding compartments on the opposite side to right her. As Hogue approached her sinking sister, her captain, Wilmot Nicholson, realized that it had been a submarine attack and signalled Cressy to look for a periscope although his ship continued to close on Aboukir as her crew threw overboard anything that would float to aid the survivors in the water. Having stopped and lowered all her boats, Hogue was struck by two torpedoes around 06:55. The sudden weight loss of the two torpedoes caused U-9 to broach the surface and Hogue's gunners opened fire without effect before the submarine could submerge again. The cruiser capsized about ten minutes after being torpedoed and sank at 07:15. Cressy attempted to ram the submarine, but did not succeed and resumed her rescue efforts until she too was torpedoed at 07:20. Weddigen had fired two torpedoes from his stern tubes, but only one hit. U-9 had to manoeuvre to bring her bow around with her last torpedo and fired it at a range of about 550 yards (500 m) at 07:30. The torpedo struck on the port side and ruptured several boilers, scalding the men in the compartment. As her sisters had done, Cressy took on a heavy list and then capsized before sinking at 07:55. Several Dutch ships began rescuing survivors at 08:30 and were joined by British fishing trawlers before Tyrwhitt and his ships arrived at 10:45. From all three ships 837 men were rescued and 62 officers and 1,397 enlisted men lost: 560 of those lost were from Cressy. In 1954 the British government sold the salvage rights to all three ships to a German company and they were subsequently sold again to a Dutch company which began salvaging the wrecks' metal in 2011. Courtesy of Wikipedia
His brother Corporal Samuel Ellis, 17th Battalion Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire (Welbeck Rangers), was killed in action on 3rd September 1916. He is commemorated on Thiepval Memorial. Nottingham Evening Post, 'In Memoriam', 22nd September 1915:- ELLIS. – In loving memory of Thomas, the beloved son of Harriett and the late Thomas Murden Ellis, who lost his life in the North Sea while serving on H.M.S. Cressy, September 22nd, 1914. Had we but seen him at the last, and watched his dying bed, or heard the last sigh of his heart, or held his drooping head, our hearts would not have felt such bitterness and grief, but God ordered otherwise, and now he rests in peace. – From sorrowing mother, sisters, and brothers.” Nottingham Evening Post, 'In memoriam', 3rd September 1918:- “ELLIS. – In loving memory of my sons, Samuel, who was killed September 3rd, 1916; John Thomas, drowned on H.M.S. Cressy, September 22nd, 1914. Too dearly loved to be forgotten. – Mother, sisters, brothers.” Above notices courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918.
Remembered on