Search for Redbridge family of Jutland Battle hero

Patricia Barber MBE by John Kirkpatrick's grave in St Mary's cemetery

Patricia Barber MBE by John Kirkpatrick's grave in St Mary's cemetery - Credit: Archant

An amateur historian is appealing for help to trace the descendants of a British sailor, who died of his wounds following the Battle of Jutland 100 years ago.

Fascinated with military history, Patricia Barber, 72, of Seven Kings, has traced for the last 10 years the life of John Nicol Kirkpatrick, an Ilford man who fought with the British Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet against the Imperial German Navy in the North Sea from May 31 to June 1 1916.

She spotted his grave in St Mary’s Church, High Road, Ilford, where he was buried 12 days after taking part in the largest naval battle of the First World War, during which more than 6,000 British sailors were killed.

Mr Kirkpatrick, 23, was among those severely injured and is believed to have died of his wounds on June 1, when his ship, HMS Chester, arrived at Grimsby.

The Recorder reported his death on June 9 1916.


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Mrs Barber, who received an MBE for her voluntary services to armed forces heritage at the end of last year, discovered that all of Mr Kirkpatrick’s siblings married and had children and grandchildren and his widow, Lucy Elizabeth Little, of Ilford, remarried in 1926 and had six children.

Mrs Little was buried in Upminster Cemetery.

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Ahead of the centenary commemorations of the Battle of Jutland on Tuesday, Mrs Barber said: “It would be really interesting to see if there is still family in the area, just to show them he has been remembered.

“He was a local boy and it was down to his family to have him buried in Ilford.”

A volunteer at the Imperial War Museum, Lambeth, and a member of many history groups, including the East of London Family History Society, Mrs Barber was a reservist in the navy and a member of the Essex Drum Corps.

For many years she worked as a curator for uniforms, medals and weapons at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

If you have any information about John Kirkpatrick or his relatives, please get in touch with the Recorder by emailing chloe.farand@archant.co.uk.

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