Thursday, 17 December 2009

John Stephen Stroud 1881-1919

My Great-Grandfather John Stroud was born on the 5th May 1881 in Southwark, London. During his childhood  he lived in Rotherhithe close  to the River Thames and the busy Docks and later he was employed as a Blacksmith's Boy, at least that was his occupation on joining the Royal Navy aged 17.

After his training (HMS Northampton) between April and September 1899 he  served on the cruiser HMS Calliope before being based at HMS Pembroke at Chatham.

I haven't even started to look into John's Naval career between 1899 and World War 2 as I've been so fascinated with the mysterious turn of events which leading up to his death,  in 1919. I know from his records that he served on many ships including HMS Monarch (3 Nov 1899-31 Dec 1899) and HMS Terrible  (1 Jan 1900-21 Mar 00) during the 2nd Boer war and literally saw the world during his time at sea.

His daughter, my Great Aunt told me that he loved the Navy and used to bring back presents from faraway places including China.  Though only young at the time she had memories of being picked up by her father and being fascinated by the  shiny buttons on his uniform. My Aunt also remembers the letter arriving informing her that John had been killed in action, her Mum's distress  and the journey by tram to see John's parents. So Elizabeth his wife was like so many of that generation became a widow and  the 2 girls grew up without a father. Elizabeth did not remarry and later warned  her daughters not to fall in love with a sailor as it would break their heart.

I don't remember seeing photos of John or hearing of him as I was growing up,  and it was only a chance conversation with my Nan towards the end of her life when she mentioned that her father,  having survived 20 years in the Navy, including service during war conditions and WW1 had died while on a "secret" rescue mission  in Russia when he  was 38. My Nan said that the family were not  told about the mission as it was all so secretive and unfortunately she died before information became more easily available and travel to  the now  Independant Latvia was possible. I think she would have been so interested in the Remembrance events that take place each year in Riga and so pleased that the men killed in action during this campaign have not been forgotten.