John William Musgrove, known as Jack, was born in August 1900 in the slums of Kensington. He was the youngest of 8 children and conditions must have been harsh. His father died when he was a baby and he was brought up by his mother, Hannah Musgrove. According to the 1911 census, their house at number 27 Southam Street consisted of just 3 rooms and in 1901 there were 10 family members living there.
The Wiki says "Hercules had a reputation as 'A pugilists ship' amongst the men. Many a troublemaker was posted to Hercules. Discipline was strict. She was equipped with a boxing ring. Breaches of discipline, especially those that resulted in arguments or fights, would very often be dealt with by 'volunteering' those involved to fight in the ring. Large wagers were often placed on these bouts by both the officers and men."
After the War Jack received the British War and Victory Medal.
Jack received the Royal Navy Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in 1933.
By 1935, when my birth mother was born, Jack was an Acting Petty Officer serving on HMS Excellent which was a shore establishment in Portsmouth. They were now living at 68 Station Road, Portsmouth. He became a fully fledged Petty Officer in June 1936.
By the time of WW2 Jack had become a Temporary Acting Gunner and family folklore says he spent a lot of his time at sea protecting Russian convoys from the u-boats. His service record suggests he spent much of the War onshore at training establishments, possibly due to his age. The only real ship I have found where he spent any length of time onboard was between June 1944 and March 1946 when he served on HMS Vindex. During 1944-45 this aircraft carrier was indeed escorting convoys and doing anti-submarine work in the Atlantic and Arctic theatres. Her Swordfish aircraft were involved in the sinking of four U-boats during this period.
- a good, sound and hard working officer and an efficient Sub Divisional Officer. Very good personal appearance and always well turned out (HMS Collingwood, a shore establishment where he served between December 1940 to September 1942)
- Has done very good work as field training officer in conjunction with an excellent team of gunners mates and set a very good standard of smartness and efficiency. A hard working, loyal and pleasant mannered Warrant Officer. Gets on well in the Ward Room Mess (HMS Excalibur, another onshore training establishment - served December 1942 to March 1944)
- Very self-assured and keen. His technical and professional knowledge is sound but his practical application is unimpressive. He is smart, a good mixer, has charm of manner and finds conversation easy, a pleasant mess mate. He keeps himself physically fit (HMS Excalibur served March 1944 to June 1944)
- a generally sound and conscientious Warrant Officer with a good grasp of his specialist duties. Is rather slow at reaching decisions though these are usually correct. Is particularly good in his dealings with outside departments and civilian firms (HMS Vindex served June 1944 to May 1945)
- a capable Gunner with good ability for taking charge and an effective leader (HMS Vindex served May 1945 to October 1945)
- Has carried out his professional duties as Gunner reasonably satisfactorily but is inclined to be stupid and outside routine matters shows very little judgement. Made a very bad Mess Caterer due entirely to stupidity. A volunteer till the end of the present emergency but due to the recent death of his wife has requested service at home so that he can look after his family. Quite a pleasant messmate (HMS Vindex served October 1945 to March 1946)
- A sound, average Gunner and a cheerful, loyal officer. His abounding good humour makes him a popular messmate though he reveals no talent at any of the "Arts" unless it be that of playing cards. A hard worker and nothing is too much trouble for him. Passed the age when he can take much part in organised games he, nevertheless, is always ready to take over the duties of other officers so that they can join in and help the ship put forward its best team (HMS Perseus - aircraft carrier - served June 1946 to December 1946)
- A sound, reliable and conscientious officer of average capabilities. He has no outstanding qualifications but has carried out his duties and conducted himself to my entire satisfaction (HMS Dryed - a shore establishment - served February 1947 to July 1947)
After being decommissioned he became quartermaster (or steward) on Cunard's newly refurbished Queen Mary which had been refitted from her role as troop transporter to take passengers to and from America.
After marrying Vi they went to live in Lee on Solent near Gosport and she had a hairdressers. After she got severe arthritis they gave this up and, sometime before 1959, they moved to a flat at 48 Archway, Highgate in North London above a retail off licence Unwins which he managed.
They later moved to a flat at Littlestone-on-sea which is a small coastal village near Romney Marshes. It transpired that Jack went fishing with Jimmy White a former paratrooper who lived next door and who turned out to be "quartermaster" for The Great Train Robbers. Apparently Jack said he always thought it strange that Jimmy should have so much rum !
Jack died in August 1968. Vi received his WW1 and WW2 medals and other memorabilia when he died. She died in 1976. During my research I discovered that all his medals were sold as one job lot at an auction in Portsmouth in 2009. Hopefully one day they will come back on the market and can be brought back into his family.