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lyndon5

Collingwood mystery

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lyndon5

My uncle, James Johnson, was an Able Seaman Naval Volunteer Reserve who joined the Collingwood Bn, 'B' Company 2nd Platoon 4/2/15-4/6/15, and died in Gallipoli. In his letters written from Crystal Palace and Dorset he refers to looking after the horses. We have a family photo which may well be a photo of him holding a horse. On the reverse of the photo is written, not apparently in his handwriting, ‘Manly, Zealandia’. I would like to confirm that this is a photo of my uncle. I have been told that the Collingwood did not take horses with them, so I am assuming that the photo was taken in England but I am confused by the writing on the reverse of the photo that seems to refer to Gallipoli. I’m hoping someone can elucidate further. I'm sorry the photo is of a poor quality.

Lyndon

man with horse 001.jpg

man with horse reverse 003.jpg

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seaJane

Welcome to the forum!

 

Zealandia might be an error for Zeelandia/Zeeland, in which case this may relate: http://rndantwerp1914.weebly.com/. That looks like the correct uniform to me, but I'm no expert.

 

sJ

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horatio2

HMS ZEALANDIA  was an RN battleship (ex-HMS NEW ZEALAND). Perhaps the horse was named after the ship. The inscription could be taken to read "{a rating called] MANLY [holding a horse named] ZEALANDIA." Or it could be something else entirely.

 

The surname MANLY is not a common one in RN records. There was only one RNVR rating with that surname and he was discharged medically unfit from Haslar in April 1915 after only three months service. He was a London Division rating for Benbow Bn. Johnson was a Bristol rating for Collingwood Bn. It is possible they met at Crystal Palace or Blandford when they were recruits but the context of horse/beach/background pier(?) during training quite eludes me.

 

If the surname was actually MANLEY, that opens a whole range of possibilities.

 

What exactly did you uncle write about his groom duties at Crystal Palace (or, perhaps, Blandford)?

Edited by horatio2

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lyndon5

Thank you both for your contributions. I do think that, whoever he was, he was a member of the Collingwood battalion - his uniform does seem consistent with this, and, although it’s not possible to read the writing on his hat, it seems the right length to spell out ‘Collingwood’. Had it not been for the writing on the reverse I would have assumed it was a photo of Jim Johnson.

I should have said that I have his service record which states that he enlisted on the 30th October 1914 and so would not have been involved in the Antwerp campaign. I thought originally that perhaps the photo was taken during their brief stay at Mudros, and that the ‘Manly’, referred to a camp that the Australians might have used on Mudros (Manly being a place in NSW) and ‘Zealandia’ that of the New Zealanders, but then re-read my notes and saw that I had been informed that no horses were taken with the Collingwood battalion, and so the photo must have been taken in England; and it also would not have explained why someone else had written on the back of his photo.

There is no family connection with anyone named Manley, nor any mention of this name in the letters.

There is no mention of his sending home any photo in his letters, apart from one reference of a photo of Jim wearing his bell-bottoms - which photo we no longer have, sadly.

Family oral history had inaccurately suggested Jim had been in the cavalry. His letters are mainly concerned with expressing his concern for the family’s financial state; reassurance for relatives that he was doing well, and thanking them for gifts he had received. This is his reference to the horses, written from Blandford:

jim johnson.jpg

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horatio2

The undated letter must have been written during the week ending Saturday 8 May 1915. Collingwood Bn. left Blandford on the morning of Monday 10 May for HMT IVERNIA at Devonport. They had been prededed by Hawke and Benbow Bns over the weekend.

The letter confirms he was on 'horse duties' at Blandford but does not help with identification.

Edited by horatio2

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lyndon5

Yes - sadly it doesn't help with identification. I've just been reading online that some New Zealanders joined the Royal Naval Division and so possibly could have been at Blandford at the same time; Manly is a place in New Zealandand so this photo could be showing someone from Manly.

http://navymuseum.co.nz/435-2/

Does anyone know anything about this? Would they have worn the same uniform as the British or the uniform of the New Zealand navy?  Is there anything in the British records that would point to the country of origin of recruits? There was an officer from New Zealand who served with the Collingwood who was killed in the same battle.
 

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horatio2

Men from New Zealand who joined the RND as officers and ratings were not Royal New Zealand Navy, which did not exist until 1941. New Zealanders joined the Royal Navy (or its branches, including RND) and were indistinguishable. I think your postulated 'Manly' connection is a red herring. RND Record Cards and RND/RNVR enrolment papers are just two of the sources for country of birth. Records for RMLI, RMA, RN and RNR are also helpful. Next-of-kin (if recorded) is sometimes a useful clue.

 

The link you give is to but a thumbnail sketch of the RND.

53 minutes ago, lyndon5 said:

There was an officer from New Zealand who served with the Collingwood who was killed in the same battle.

Two actually. Oscar FREYBERG, brother of Bernard (although both were British-born, emigrating to NZ in childhood - so "from NZ".). Also Lt Frank Augustus LOWE of Dunedin NZ k.i.a. in the same battle (OC 'D' Coy.)

Edited by horatio2

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