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Battista, J.G., Pte., 1916

Photo : Shields News 30/11/1916

Medal Index Card

North Shields Police Photos 09/06/1913

North Shields Police Photos 20/01/1910

On the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing is the name of 6/4088 Private John George Battista serving in the 1/6th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers who died 05/11/1916.

John George Battista was born on the 29th March 1891 at 83 Clive Street, North Shields, the son of Giovanni [John] Battista, born on the 8th of April 1845 at Cassino, Italy, [son of Antonio born 1811 and Angela Battista, born 1815, {nee Pirollo}], and his wife Elizabeth Ellen Battista, [nee Lawson], born Sunderland 1854, daughter of Thomas Lawson, residing at 9 Tanners Court, Friars, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. They were married on the 19th November 1885 in the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Register Office. Giovanni a widower by then was residing at 25 Stowell Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a tailor by trade.
John George was baptised on the 28th March 1901 at the St Cuthbert's Roman Catholic Church, North Shields.

Giovanni, was a Travelling Musician and an ice cream vendor, had two other brothers called Vincenzo, born 29th March 1852, died 4th January 1900, and Antonio born 1855, died 1936 who had settled with their families in Newcastle upon Tyne around 1874.

In 1881, Giovanni and Elizabeth were residing at 15 Trafalger Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Giovanni and Elizabeth were married in 1885 and they had 9 children, Pasqualino, born 16th October 1879, Numbers Garth, Bishopwearmouth, Sunderland, he died March 1951, Georgina, born 11th November 1881, [married sailor, James Birmingham, {born 23rd April 1874} on the 19th December 1898 at St Stephens, Wandsworth, Surrey], in 1939 they were residing at No 4 Plumridge House, Wandsworth, London, Elizabeth Ann Battista, born 1886, Orselina, (also known as Lily), born 22nd February 1884 and baptised at St Cuthbert, North Shields on the 9th March 1884, married a Francis Spence, on the 3rd June 1905, at St Augustine, North Shields, both residing at 69 Linskill Street, and she residing later at 3 Norfolk Street, North Shields, with her next husband Robert Guthrie, married 26th December 1918. Lily was fined 2s 6d without costs for brawling on the Union Quay on the 21st August 1901 and further charged for the same offences on the 23rd and 24th, along with Mary Ann Foster, Catherine Lucas and Barbara Legg. In 1911, Lily was residing at 70 Tyne Street, North Shields with a boy John William Battista now age 8, [who married an Ann E Bridges in 1936, he died in 1958], a J.G Birmingham age 29, David Roger Birmingham age 1, In 1939, Lily now married to a Robert Guthrie, was now residing at 32 Stephenson Street, Tynemouth, Lily died 11th October 1959,
Evening Chronicle Monday 12/10/1959,
Guthrie North Shields, at 5 Aster Square, on Oct 11, Aged 75 years, Orsolina, beloved wife of Robert. Internment Preston Cemetery Wednesday leaving residence 3pm. Funeral private.

Elizabeth Ann Battista, born 1886, [On the 9th October 1912 Elizabeth Ann Battista, a spinster mother, aged 24 was admitted to the Tynemouth Workhouse with her baby son John aged 5 months. It was recorded 'Father William a tailor' and that she was 'Transferred from Bolton Union.' They were discharged at 9.45 am on the 30th January 1913 aged 25 and aged 1], Antonio (also known as Anthony) born 6th October 1888 and baptised at St Cuthbert's North Shields 28th March 1901, died on the 28th December 1911, was drowned in the River Wear. [He had just been employed as a ship's watchman on the Bella, an old vessel lying near the Ayres Quay Bottle Works, the vessel belonged to a Mr Logan, and Antonio only commenced work there from Tuesday 26th December, and was required to stay on board constantly. Antonio was married to Catherine. They were residing at 3 Back Barrington Street, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland in 1911. The Coroner held an inquest at the Millum Terrace Mission and returned a verdict of Accidentally drowned. The Coroner also remarked that some weeks prior he had held an inquest upon a little daughter {Elizabeth Ellen Battista}, of Battista's who had been accidentally drowned [14th September 1911], in a tub in the yard. Antonio was buried on the 7th January 1911].

Sunderland Echo Monday 29/12/1913.
Battista. In loving memory of Anthony Battista, beloved husband of Catherine Battista, who was accidentally drowned on the 28th December 1911; also beloved daughter of deceased, who was accidentally drowned on 14th of September, 1911. The leaves may wither, and flowers may die, Some may forget you, but never shall I. When days are dark, and friends but few, Dear husband, how i miss you. Ever remembered by his loving wife. R.I.P.

Newcastle Journal Saturday 16/09/1911.
An inquest was held at Sunderland, yesterday, on the body of Elizabeth Ellen Battista, aged two years, daughter of a labourer living at 3, Back Barrington Street, Monkwearmouth. The evidence showed that the child went out to play with other children, and was shortly afterwards found drowned in a wash-tub in the backyard of the house of its grandmother, who lived in an adjoining street. The tub, one of the witnesses said, always stood under the tap, being used for washing purposes and it had never struck her that it was dangerous to the children who played about. Coroner Burnicle observed that it was dangerous to have a tub standing full of water where there were always so many little children about. They all knew the attraction a tub of water had for little children and to have such a tub nearly constantly full of water was, and must be, a source of considerable danger. This was the second case of this kind within a short time, and he hoped it would be a warning. A verdict of "Accidentally drowned" was returned.

Buried at Mere Knolls Cemetery Buried 17th September 1911. She was staying at her grandmothers house at 39 Hedworth Street, Sunderland.

Vincent Crescenzo, born 18th September 1894, baptised age 8 at St Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, along with brother William Armstrong, born 9th September 1896, baptised on the 2nd October 1896, Christ Church, educated at Tynemouth School, [resided at 36 Stanstead Road, Portsmouth in 1939], he died 15th April 1953, and James, born on the 18th August 1899, baptised St Cuthberts', North Shields on the 6th September 1899, married Dorothy Playford at St Cuthbert, North Shields on the 11th April 1922. Address for both were recorded as 35 Duke's Street, North Shields.

Giovanni and Elizabeth moved from Sunderland around 1882 to North Shields and were residing at 83 Clive Street, North Shields.

By 1901 the family were residing at 9 Bird Street, North Shields, Giovanni was now a widow as his wife Elizabeth had died in 1900, and was buried in Preston Cemetery, North Shields on the 17th September 1900.

Giovanni married a widow Anastasia Whelan (nee Finley), born 1862 Ireland, on the 14th February 1901 at St Cuthbert's RC Church, North Shields. In 1891, she was residing at 65 Stephenson Street, Wallsend, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, she died 17th July 1934, [residing at 169 Portland Road], she and her 3 children from her first marriage to Michael Whelan joined the Battista family. [Mary Alice born 9th May 1886, Ellinore born 4th September 1889 and Anatasia Slavin, nee Whelan, born 20th November 1892]. Michael Whelan died at the Morpeth Asylum on the 24th December 1899 and is buried at Wallsend Cemetery they were residing then at 16 Palmers Way, Willington Quay.

Evening Chronicle 'Whelan, 169 Portland Road, on the 17th inst., aged 72 years, Anastasia beloved wife of the late Michael Whelan. Cortege received at St Dominic's Church, Friday 9.45 am. Friends please accept this the only intimation. On whose soul sweet Jesus have mercy. R.I.P' Anastasia was buried at All Saints Cemetery in Newcastle upon Tyne on 20 July 1934.
She lies in the same grave as her daughter Anastasia Slavin (nee Whelan).

On the 10th September 1901, John George's half-sibling Henry Leo Battista was born and this child was baptised at St Cuthbert RC Church in North Shields on the 25th September 1901. Sadly, Henry Leo died in 1902 and was buried in Elswick Cemetery (Section S grave no. 201) on the 16th July 1902. Home address recorded as 2 Stowell Square.

On the 7th November 1901, Lily Battista age 18, entered the Tynemouth Workhouse. Her nearest relative was recorded as Giovanni, 9 Bird Street. She was discharged on the 27th November 1901 but was readmitted again on the 28th December 1901 at 9.18 pm. The entry records her nearest relative as John and that he had gone to Newcastle. No Address. She was discharged on the 6th March 1902. Readmitted on the 17th July 1902 at 7.40 pm. This time nearest relative's details recorded as 'Father Turpin's Bank N.S.'

This is the last recorded whereabouts of Giovanni and what became of him is unknown.

John George Battista worked around the North Shields Fish Quay as a Labourer. On the 17th November 1902 there is an entry for the Tynemouth Workhouse admission at 3.30 pm of Elizabeth aged 15, Antonio aged 13 and a half, John George 11 and half, Vincent aged 8, William aged 5 and James aged 3. All were there own informant. Nearest relative was their sister Lily, Fish Quay, North Shields.

Antonio was discharged on the 7th January 1903 at 6.40 and it was recorded that he had been 'Taken out by brother'. This could only have been Pasquale as he was the only brother who was not an inmate at the workhouse at that time.

Elizabeth was discharged on the 17th August 1904 age 16. It was recorded that she was taken out by W. Brabant.

Vincent Crescenzo was discharged on the 17th August 1905 and there are ditto marks under an above entry recording 'Taken out by sister'.

On the 26th May 1910 Vincent and John Dixon both aged 16 were discharged from the Tynemouth Workhouse at 1.35 and 1.38 respectively. It was recorded that they were going to W. Elliot. 11 Alexandra Street, Victoria Garesfield, Rowlands Gill. Co Durham.

John George at some stage was partly educated at the Wellesley Training Ship in Blyth and was sent there on the 6th May 1905 from the Workhouse.

John George was photographed twice by the North Shields police for petty crimes. One incident is recorded for stealing rope.

Shields Daily News Monday 09/06/1913.
FOUR YOUNG MEN AT NORTH SHIELDS POLICE COURT Charles Edward Marr (21), John Fryer (16?) John George Batista, (21). and John Thomas Green (16), were severally charged at the North Shields Court, today (Coun. A. R. Plummer and Capt. Bolt on the Bench), with being found upon enclosed premises to wit (sic) the backyard of No. 3 Norfolk Street, for an unlawful purpose. Det. A. Huish stated that at about 2.20 yesterday morning, while in Norfolk Street he heard a disturbance coming from the direction of a store situate (sic) at No. 3. He went there, and heard someone (whom he thought was Batista say: "You **** if you don't shut up the police will be here and catch us all." They were taken into custody, but had nothing to say in answer to the charge.
According to further evidence it appeared that Fryer resided at No 3 Norfolk Street, and all of them had been locked out. Fryer, Batista and Green said they went into the washhouse, locking the yard door behind them, and Marr, whom they had previously not known came in an hour later.All four had previously been before the Bench. Batista and Marr both making their (18th?) appearance. Councillor Plummer in dismissing the defendants with a caution said there was not quite sufficient evidence to show that there was an unlawful purpose, but they had just escaped by the skin of their teeth. They all had records, and if they came back again they would be severely dealt with.'

Shields Daily NewsThursday 23/11/1909:
At the Tynemouth Court this morning, John Batista (18) labourer, and Jacob Miller (15) (R--?) Street, were charged with having stolen on the 18th inst. from a handcart on the Union Quay, a bag and about 30 feet of Manilla rope valued at 2s, the property of Robert Wood, or the alternative receiving the same well knowing it to have been stolen.The prosecutor, a hawker, who resided at Heron Street, South Shields, said that shortly before five o'clock on the afternoon of the 18th inst. he was on the Union Quay with a barrow on which was the bag containing the rope. Witness left the handcart for a minute or two, and on returning he missed the bag and rope. He then gave information to a police officer.
Hugh McQueen, a boy, said that on the afternoon stated he was on the quay when he saw the two defendants there. They came up to him and Batista asked him if he had a knife. Witness asked him what he wanted it for but Batista made no reply. Miller however spoke out, and said they wanted to cut a bag open to see if there was any old iron in it. Batista went towards the handcart belonging to last witness and picking the bag up and he and Miller went away with it.
P.C. Spindler said that the prosecutor made a complaint to him of having missed some rope. About ten minutes after he had received the complaint he saw the two defendants coming along the quay carrying the bag. Miller bolted and witness got hold of Batista. In reply to witness he said he had some rope in the bag which he found beside the cobles. Witness found the rope which had been previously reported missing, and he brought Batista to the police station and charged him with the offence. In reply he said "Are you going to bring the other fellow in".
Miller said he only helped to carry the bag for Batista. He did not steal it.
Both defendants, who had previously been convicted were fined 5s and 5s costs.

Shields Daily News Wednesday 30/06/1909
(Before Mr. Wm BIRD
Lieut.-Col. F. R. N. HASWELL, Mr. A. O. CARR
and Capt. J. SANDERSON.)
John George Batista and John Nicholson, youths were summoned for playing at pitch and toss in Toll Square on the 16th inst. P.C. Tullock proved the case. Batista made his 2nd appearance, and was fined 1s and 1s costs. The case against Nicholson was dismissed.

Shields Daily NewsMonday 19/09/1910
At Tynemouth to-day, William Riddle (16), labourer, Wilson's lodging house, Union Street, on remand, and John George Batista (18), North Shields, were severally charged with stealing between 6.30 p.m. on the 15th inst, and 10 a.m. on the 16th September, from the fishing boat Kate, while lying at the Fish Quay, a quantitiy of tools valued at 10s, the property of one Lawrence Bonham.
Lawrence Bonham, master of the steam-drifter Kate, residing at 18 Walker Place, said that at 4.30 p.m. on the 15th inst, he moored the vessel at the Fish Quay and securely fastened the hatch. About 10 o'clock next morning he returned and found that the hatch had been broken open. On going into the cabin he found Riddle sitting there, and he asked him what he was doing. Riddle answered that another lad named Batista had brought him on board to sleep the night before. The cabin was in a state of uproar and the lockers had been ransacked. The tools produced had been tied up in a bag and were lying near the door. They were his property, and were valued at 10s. Witness then sent for the police and gave Riddle in charge. P.C. Spindler stated that from information received he proceeded to the fishing boat Kate, and there in the cabin, which was in a state of disorder, he saw the prosecutor and the prisoner Riddle. He told Riddle he was going to take him into custody, and he replied, "That's right; we broke in about 11.30 last night." On Saturday morning Batista gave himself up at the police station. Witness charged the prisoners together, and Riddle said that Batista brought him on board the previous night for a night's lodgings. He heard Batista throwing some tools about, and on the following morning the prosecutor came and saw him in the cabin. Batista replied, "I was not there all night; I never saw any tools."When formally charged by the Clerk (Mr R. F. Kidd), Batista said that he showed Riddle how to get on board, but he himself did not stay there. Next morning he returned to the boat and asked Riddle to get up. Riddle said, "All right," and he then went away. Riddle stated that Batista was on board the boat all night, and that he heard him throwing the tools about. On the Saturday Batista tried to get a fishing boat for Yarmouth.
Riddle was dismissed, and Batista, who made his thirteenth appearance, was committed to prison for a month.

Shields Daily News Monday, 21/11/1910
Before Capt. Armstrong and Mr Frank Graham at Tynemouth to-day, John T. Taylor (23). Myock's lodging house; John G Batista (19), Union Stairs, and Thomas Alderson (17), 54 Coronation Street, were severally charged with stealing a quantity of iron plates and bars, the property of Messrs Smith's Dock Co., Ltd.
Supt. Jamieson said that the prisoners were charged in conjunction with another man already in custody. The latter prisoner was remanded until Friday, and he asked that the others be remanded until that day.
Det. Radcliffe stated that Wood and Taylor came into the police station, and gave themselves up on the charge, and from what they said witness arrested the other two at their respective homes. He brought them to the police station and charged them severally and each pleaded guilty.The prisoners were remanded until Friday.

He married Emma Anderson at St Cuthbert, North Shields on the 13th July 1911 and resided at Double Entry, 27 Church Street, North Shields, Northumberland.

John George attested at Newcastle-upon-Tyne in about June 1915 at St Georges Drill Hall, Northumberland Road, at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He was given the service number 6/4088 and was a private in the 1/6th Battalion T. F. Northumberland Fusiliers.

In accordance with the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 (7 Edw. 7, c.9) which brought the Territorial Force into being, the TF was intended to be a home defence force for service during wartime and members could not be compelled to serve outside the country. However, on the outbreak of war on the 4th August 1914, many members volunteered for Imperial Service. Therefore, TF units were split into 1st Line (liable for overseas service) and 2nd Line (home service for those unable or unwilling to serve overseas) units. 2nd Line units performed the home defence role, although in fact most of these were also posted abroad in due course. Later, a 3rd Line was formed to act as a reserve, providing trained replacements for the 1st and 2nd Line units. When 2nd Line battalions were formed, the 1st Line took on a fractional designation so, for example, 4th Battalion became 1/4th Battalion (first fourth) and its 2nd Line was designated 2/4th Battalion (second fourth); in due course the 3rd Line was formed as the 3/4th Battalion (third fourth).

The 1/6th Battalion in August 1914, were located in St George’s Drill Hall, Newcastle. Part of the Northumberland Brigade, Northumbrian Division.
April 1915, landed in France. In May 1915 became 149th Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division, in France. On the 15th July 1918 they were reduced to cadre strength and transferred to Lines of Communication. On the 16th August 1918 they were transferred to 118th Brigade, 39th Division. 10th November 1918, they were disbanded in France.

In July 1915 there was a Military Sports Meeting held on the Town Moor to encourage and support the recruitment effort. Private J. G. Battisa was in the 100 yards flat race and came a winner in 12.25 secs, he was in the 3/6th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers at this time.

John George was killed in action on Sunday 5th November 1916. His battalion was situated around the High Wood area near the Butte of Warlencourt. He may have been killed on the 6th November where the War Diaries mention 3 men killed and 9 men wounded. 100 men were used that day as stretcher bearers all under fire.

Shields Daily News Thursday 30/11/1916:
BATTISTA - Killed in action on Nov 5th 1916 aged 25 years. Private John G Battista, beloved brother of Lily Spence, 3 Norfolk Street, North Shields - His King and country called him, the call was not in vain. On Britain's roll of honour, you will find this hero's name.

Shields Daily News Saturday 04/08/1917.
Battista. John George, Northumberland Fusiliers, killed in action, Nov 5th, 1916 (27 Church Street).

Shields Daily News 05/11/1924.
BATTISTA.- Sleep on dear brother, and take thy rest. They miss you most who loved you best, forgotten by some he may be, forgotten by us he never shall be - Remembered by his sister Lily, brother-in-law Bob, also nephew Willis.

There is a letter which mentions John George Battista. 'Private John Dunleavy, No 4 Platoon, 1st/6th Northumberland Fusiliers was a member of the British Expeditionary Force to France and wrote:
Dear Sir
I received your kind and welcome letter all right. Private Fletcher, No 3 Platoon, 1st 6th NFBEF, France thanks you for your Christmas gift, which he received safely. Your letter congratulating me on winning the Military Medal was much appreciated.
I am very sorry to inform you of Private Battista having been killed in action on November 6th. Well, we have had a good number of the old boys joined (also a lot we do not hear of) and, as you know you have only to get on talking about the Old Wooden Walls, or I should say, our dear old ship, and then you can tell who you are talking to.
Don't forget to tell the boys I am asking kindly after them, and I am very sorry I cannot spend my Christmas amongst them again, as I quite enjoyed myself last time I was with them all in the Old Boys' Mess in 1915.
Remember me to all the Officers and Boys, and last but not least, our dear Captain, who is doing his work at sea. Well, good night, and may God look over you all.
With Kindest regards to yourself,
Yours Truly,
John Dunleavy, MM'

Shields Daily News Wednesday 05/11/1924.
In loving memory of our brother, John George Battista, 16th Batt. N.F., killed in action Nov 5th, 1916. Sleep on, dear brother, and take thy rest; They miss you most who loved you best; forgotten by some he may be, forgotten by us he never shall be. Remembered by his sister Lily, brother-in-law, Bob also nephew Willie.

There was a dependant's pension in John George Battista name being paid to an unmarried mother called Mrs Isabella Griffiths Wilson also a guardian to a child Miss Elizabeth Robson of 70 Waterloo Road, Blyth, Northumberland from the 20th February 1929 at 12s a week for the mother and 10s a week for the child from the 20th February 1928.

The personal army effects also state Isabella Griffiths Wilson as sole legatee and received a War Gratuity of £6.

Research: Angela Conroy/Sophie Tobin/James Pasby

John George Battista is remembered at Blyth on B42.13 and at Tynemouth in T36.14 page 4, and in T36.14 page 40, and at North Shields on N34.77

CWGC entry for Spence
High Wood Today
High Wood overhead Then and Now
The CWGC entry for Private Battista

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk