Every Name A Story Content

Battista, W.A., 1914-18 (1973)

Photo : Sophie Tobin Antonio, Celesta, John Bros

Shield Daily News 1st July 1924.

Portsmouth Evening News Monday 3rd March 1952

William Armstrong Battista was born on the 9th September 1896, at 9 Bird Street. North Shields, baptised on the 2nd October 1896 at Christ Church, 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.

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 Trafalgar Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Giovanni and Elizabeth were married in 1885. and they had 9 children, John George Battista, Pasqualino, born 16th October 1879, Numbers Garth, Bishopwearmouth, Sunderland, he died March 1951], Georgina, born 11th November 1881, [married a sailor, James Birmingham on the 19th December 1898 at St Stephens, Wandsworth, Surrey], 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, married a Robert Guthrie 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. Lily died 1959, in 1939 Lily Spence was now residing at 32 Stephenson Street, Tynemouth, [On the 9th October 1912 Elizabeth Ann Battista, a spinster Mother, aged 24 was admitted to the Tynemouth Workhouse with her baby son John age 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 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 my 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.

Vincent Crescenzo, born 18th September 1894, baptised age 8 at St Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, along with brother William, 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 now residing at 83 Clive Street, North Shields.

By 1901 the family were residing a 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 remarried a widow called 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 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.

William Armstrong was educated at the Tynemouth School. And also at the Wellesley School ship. On the 1st August 1907 William Armstrong Battista came first in the Tynemouth Schools sports day in the Band Race which was held at the Cricket Field, Preston Avenue, Tynemouth.

In 1909, the Guardians of the Tynemouth Board decided that William be sent to an Industrial School due to his constant truancy and absences from the Workhouse. So on the 5th November 1909 he is discharged from the workhouse at 7 am. And is sent to an Industrial School. In 1911, he was residing at the Humber Industrial School Ship Southampton at Alexandra Quay, Hull.

William enlisted into the Royal Marines Band on the 6th May 1913, service number 2109 at York. He was 16 years 7 months and 29 days old.

Tynemouth Union Minutes 1913-14 on page 115. The excerpt is from 'Minutes of Committee brought up and confirmed at the Meeting of the Board on the 3rd July 1913'.
"WELLESLEY" TRAINING SHIP The Clerk submitted notices from the "Wellesley" Training Ship as to the discharge of the following boys, viz: W. A. Battista, on the 6th May, to the Royal Naval School of Music, Portsmouth.
He was 4 feet 11 and three quarters inches tall, Fresh complexion, Brown Eyes, Brown Hair with a scar on the chin and 2 scars on the head.

His rank was band boy and was stationed at the Royal Naval School of Music at Portsmouth.

The Royal Marines School of Music (RMSoM) was founded as the "Royal Naval School of Music" in 1903 at Eastney Barracks, Portsmouth, where the Royal Marines Museum is now located. In 1930 it moved to Deal, Kent, a historic Royal Navy base and shipyard. Between 1940 and 1950, it moved to various locations around the country before returning to Deal. Eleven band members at the school were killed during the Deal barracks bombing of 1989. The school relocated for the last time in 1996 and returned to Portsmouth, making its home in the former detention quarters within HMS "Nelson".

Because he was under age, his service between the 6th May 1913 to the 8th September 1913 is forfeited. At the age of 18, he was now 5 Feet 1 inch high.
From the 6th Match 1914 he is a musician on board the H.M.S. Russell. Then William is back at the R.N. School of Music from the 16th May 1916 to the 3rd November 1916. He is now on board the H.M.S. Courageous till the 30th January 1919. Then the School of Music, 31st January to the 12th June 1919.

He married on the 19th December 1919 to Jane {nee Baines}, born 18th May 1893, [daughter of an Alexander Harrison and Mary Jane Pears {nee Adams}, Baines], she died January 1987. William and Jane had a daughter Jennie Armstrong, born 31st July 1922, died 4th August 2012. [She married a Ronald Horsey Satchell, born 1920 died 1999, in June 1946. Also Jane visited Singapore with their son Brian aged 4 on the M.S. Falstria, East Asiatic Company bound for Bangkok on the 24th November 1952. Embarking from Middlesbrough.

William is now on board the H.M.S. Colossus, till the 27th February 1920. 28th May he is on board the Temesaise. William was on the H.M.S. Hood from the 1st January 1922 until the 14th May 1923. Then on H.M.S. Rodney, H.M.S. Effingham, H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth and the H.M.S. Warspite.

In 1922 he was in Civil Custody for 4 days. On the 18th November 1927, he qualifies as Musical Instructor 2nd Class.
Finally from the 4th September 1931 he is returned back to the Royal Navy School of Music and is finally discharged on the 17th August 1932 as physically unfit for R. M. Service.

In 1939 he was residing at 36 Stanstead Road, Southsea, Portsmouth, a retired musician number 7417, from the Royal Navy School of Music, but now an invalid.

Portsmouth Evening News Monday 03/03/1952.
Court's Condition of Probation. Convicted at a previous hearing of stealing a pair of shoes, valued at 10s., from a shop at 170-172 Arundel Street, Lansport, William Armstrong Battista (55), unemployed, of 36 Stansted Road, Southsea, was before Portsmouth Magistrates again today. when medical reports were considered. The Magistrates placed him on probation for a year, with condition that he should reside in St James' Hospital for six months.

William Armstrong Battista died on the 15th April 1973.

Research: Angela Conroy/Sophie Tobin/James Pasby

William Armstrong Battista is remembered at Blyth on B42.08.

Royal Marine Band

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