[Skip to content]

Person Details
09 Feb 1888
Staveley, Derbyshire
James Alan was the son of John Tomlinson and his wife Mary nee Jervis. His father John was born in Staveley, Derbyshire, as was his mother Mary. They were married in 1876 (O/N/D Chesterfield) and had at least six children who were all born in Staveley; Anita (also Juanita/Eneata) birth registered 1879 (J/F/M Chesterfield), John Alfred b. 21 May 1880 (J/A/S Chesterfield) bap. 15 July 1880, Mary Hannah b. 1882 (J/A/S Chesterfield) bap. 15 February 1883, Emily b. 1883 (O/N/D Chesterfield), Maggy (Maggie) b. 1895 (A/M/J Chesterfield), James Allen b. 9 February 1888 (J/F/M Chesterfield) bap. 22 March 1888. The children were baptised at Staveley parish church. In 1881 John (26) a coal miner, and Mary (26), were living at Marples Brick Yard, Staveley, with their children Juanita (2) and John Alfred (u/1). By 1891 the family was living at Lowgates, Staveley; John (35) and Mary (36), Juanita (12), John (10), Mary (8), Emily (7), Maggie (6) and James (3). Also in the household were two lodgers, Alfred Jervis (21) a coal miner, and Fanny Jervis (18), both born in Staveley and presumably relatives of James' mother. John was still working as a coal miner in 1901 but now living in New Village, Cresswell Elmton, Derbyshire, and probably working at Cresswell colliery. He and Mary had only two children at home on the night of the census: John (20) a coal miner and James (13) who was at school. Two of their daughters were working as general domestic servants: Mary Hannah (19) was living in Sheffield in the household of Catherine Wood, a widow living on her own means and Maggie (16) was living in Staveley in the household of William Haycox, a coal miner hewer and shopkeeper, and his wife Ellen. The eldest girl, Anita, had married John Henry Holman, a miner, on 5 August 1899 at Staveley parish church. Emily married Frederick Cross on 26 December 1904 in the parish church of Elmton with Cresswell, Derbyshire. She died in 1913 (J/F/M Mansfield) age 29. Only one of the family has been traced on the 1911 Census, John Alfred (30) single, a coal miner hewere who was living at 22 Kitchener Drive, Mansfield. Also in the household was Alice Smith (31). Anita Holman appears on the 1939 England & Wales Register living at 707 Carter Lane, Mansfield, with her husband John, an unemployed coal miner, their children Edith and John, and Anita's brother, John Alfred, who was described as 'incapacitated'. James' mother had remarried (Webster) by the time the CWGC record was compiled which gives her address as 55 Unity Street, East Kirkby, Nottinghamshire. At some point she may have also lived at 107 Carter Lane, Mansfield.
He was a loader at a colliery when he joined the Royal Navy in 1909.
26 Nov 1914
2872199 - CWGC Website
Stoker 1st Class
HMS Bulwark Royal Navy
James joined the Royal Navy as a Stoker 2nd Class on 17 March 1909 on a 12 year Short Service Engagement (5 years RN, 7 years Royal Fleet Reserve). He served in the following ships and shore establishments: HMS Nelson 17 March 1909-15 June 1909 (Stoker II Class); HMS Illustrious, 16 June 1909-2 March 1910; HMS Blake, 3 March 1910-20 May 1912 (Stoker I Class 3 May 1910); Victory II, 21 May 1912-19 June 1912, HMS Bulwark, 30 June 1912-7 February 1914; Victory II, 8 February 1914-March 1914. Discharged Shore Short Service Engagement expired and transferred to Royal Fleet Reserve (Ports. B.6680) 17 March 1914. He was mobilised on 2 August 1914 (Victory II) and drafted to HMS Bulwark on 1 September 1914. His service record was annotated 'NP 3063/14. Lost when HMS Bulwark was sunk.' James was killed when HMS Bulwark sank after an explosion when anchored in the River Medway of Sheerness. There were few survivors. His body was not recovered for burial and he is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. The pre-Dreadnought battleship HMS Bulwark of the 5th Battleship Squadron, Channel Fleet, was sunk on 26 November 1914 by an ammunition explosion while at No 17 Buoy in the River Medway off Sheerness. Only 12 men survived from a ship’s company of over 750 and among the dead were sailors and Royal Marines from Nottinghamshire, many of whom came from the Meadows and Radford. Eye-witnesses in nearby ships described seeing smoke from the stern of the ship before the explosion, which appeared to have been in an after magazine. Divers who examined the wreck a few days later reported that Bulwark’s port bow had been blown off by the explosion and lay 50 feet beyond the mooring while the starboard bow lay 30 feet further away. No other large sections of the ship could be found. A Naval board of enquiry into the cause of the explosion concluded that the most likely cause of the disaster was the overheating of cordite charges stored alongside a boiler room bulkhead. It was also suggested that shells for the ship’s 6” guns had been stored in in cross-passageways connecting the ship’s 11 magazines and had, contrary to regulations, been packed too close together and were also touching the magazine bulkheads. A chain reaction explosion of the shells would have been sufficient to detonate the ship’s magazines. The First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, made a statement to the House of Commons on the afternoon HMS Bulwark was lost, "I regret to say I have some bad news for the House. The Bulwark battleship, which was lying in Sheerness this morning, blew up at 7.35 o'clock. The Vice and Rear Admiral, who were present, have reported their conviction that it was an internal magazine explosion which rent the ship asunder. There was apparently no upheaval in the water, and the ship had entirely disappeared when the smoke had cleared away. An inquiry will be held tomorrow which may possibly throw more light on the occurrence. The loss of the ship does not sensibly affect the military position, but I regret to say the loss of life is very severe. Only 12 men are saved. All the officers and the rest of the crew, who, I suppose, amounted to between 700 and 800, have perished. I think the House would wish me to express on their behalf the deep sorrow with which the House heard the news, and their sympathy with those who have lost their relatives and friends."
Remembered on