Sunday, June 14, 2015

J55075 Seaman James William Gaston, HMS Canada

James William Gaston was born at Newick on 15th May 1898.  At the time the 1901 census was taken he was living with his family at Stair Bridge Lane, Bolney, Sussex.  The household comprised John Gaston (head, aged 39, born in Newick, a stockman on a farm), his wife Ann Gaston (aged 36, born in Chailey) and five children: Albert Henry Gaston (aged 15, working as a farm labourer), John George Gaston (aged ten), Annie Naomi Gaston (aged eight), Lizzie Gaston (aged five) and James (aged two). 

The census return taken ten years earlier shows the family recorded on the census return for Newick and living on Fletching Common.  John Gaston is recorded as a farm labourer. 

James joined the Royal Navy at Portsmouth on 27th June 1916 for the duration of hositilities.  He was five feet six and a quarter inches tall, had black hair, black eyes and a fresh complexion and bore a scar on the front of his chest.  He gave his occupation as farm labourer.  He was given the rating of ordinary seaman, the service number J55075 and posted to the shore-based HMS Victory.  He remained there until 25th August when he was posted to HMS Canada, remaining with this ship until he was demobbed on 25th April 1919.  On 5th July 1918 he had been promoted to able seaman. 

Throughout his service with the Royal Navy, James’ character was rated as very good and his ability as satisfactory.  Chailey Parish Magazine had first noted him in November 1916 serving aboard HMS Canada. 

The photo that appears on this page was one that James sent to his old headmaster, John Oldaker, of Newick school.  He had been a pupil there (1906-1908), as had his brother Albert Henry Gaston, and both boys had sent photos of themselves serving their King and Country.

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