John Aldis

As a young man Jonathan was a blacksmith like his grandfather Isaac Aldis. He was born in Woodton, Norfolk on 20 November 1888 to Martha Aldis, who was unmarried.

In 1891 Jonathan and his mother were living with his grandparents in Saxlingham Nethergate. In 1900 his mother married George Barnes and she moved to live in Woodton, where in 1901 she had a daughter Gladys Elizabeth  and in 1903 a daughter, Ellen.

Jonathan continued to live with his grandparents in Saxlingham, where at aged 14 years he was a Blacksmith apprentice. Also living with his grandparents was his cousin Jonathan aged 12 years old.

By 1911 Jonathan was calling himself John and was living with his mother’s sister Rosa’s family in Saxlingham. Rosa had married Frederick Yallop. John was working as a bricklayer’s labourer. This is interesting as later in life he became a bricklayer.

On 13 December 1915 when John joined the army he was still single and living on Saxlingham Green. He gave his age as 27 years and 1 month. He was 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighed 118 pounds and his chest measurement was 35 inches. He joined as a shoeing smith with the Army Service Corps, his service number was TS/10226. His mother Martha Aldis, Woodton, was given as his next of kin.

His ability as a shoeing smith was examined and he was declared as being very good.

He was posted to France on the 4 May 1916. He sailed from Southampton to Le Havre on SS Connaught. He was granted leave from 9 October 1917 to 19 October 1917. On 16 October 1917 he married Gertrude Emma Youell at Henstead Register Office. Gertrude had been born on 28 April 1893 in America. He was allowed to extend his leave until 22 October 1917 after which he returned to France.

He had further leave from 1 January 1919 to 15 January 1919.

On 2 March 1919 having returned to France he was admitted to 14 General Hospital, Wimereux with influenza. He was invalided to England on the hospital ship St Andrew and discharged from hospital on 25 March 1919. He left the army on 23 April 1919. He was refused a pension.

He returned to Saxlingham Nethergate and on 10 April 1920 his son Horace J W Aldis was born.

In 1939 he lived with his wife Gertrude in Back Cottages, The Street, Saxlingham Nethergate. He was working as a bricklayer. His son was working as a shop assistant.

Like his uncle Jack Aldis and his cousins William and John Aldis he was also a bell ringer at the local church. Between 1933 and 1946 he rang several peals at St. Mary’s Church, Saxlingham Nethergate.

On 16th November 1954 along with Gertrude, Horace, Horace’s wife Merle, and their two sons John emigrated to Australia. They sailed on the SS Orontes from London. John was listed as being in the building trace and Horace as working in a factory. John gave his age as 60 years old and his wife 59 years old. In fact they were older. John was 66 years old and his wife 61 years.

Their last address in England was given as 27 Glenmore Gardens, Alysham, Norfolk. Their intended address in Australia was 35 Wallsend Road, Newcastle, New South Wales. The ship arrived in Freemantle on 13th December 1954.

In 1968 they were all living at Flat 1, 7 New Street, Dandenong Holt, Victoria. Horace was now a draughtsman and John ( known to the family as Jack) was a linesman. He would have been aged 80 years old at this time.

He died in Frankston, Victoria in 1972 and Gertrude in 1974

Horace and his wife, Merle, had three children, Gordon , John and Angela. Horace lived for the rest of his life in Australia dying there aged 90 years old.


UK Census Collection

England & Wales, Birth, marriage and death index, 1837-2005

British Army Medal Roll Index cards, 1914-1920

British Army WW1 Service Records

1939 Register from

Military Hospitals Admissions and Discharge Registers WW1

Electoral rolls, Australia 1968, 1977 and 1980

Thanks to Ann Davies for information about the bell ringing and emigration to Australia