20 March 2017

John Peter Webb Pennington RNVR

Frustrating, annoying and a complete waste of time. After more than nine years of research this is how I have come to considered the search for the family of John Peter Webb Pennington.
I received Pennington's Victory Medal in 2008 from Gary Y who told me that the medal came to him with the story that it was linked to a 'Nurse Pennington from The Entrance'. It didn't take long to work out that John was a member of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve and served aboard the HMS Changuinola, an armed merchant cruiser. Also, that he died of disease on 16 March 1917. Pennington was on a family tree I found which indicate that his wife was Mary and that they had two sons.
Over the years I, and many others, have revisited this search. Each time a little bit more information was available on the net. When I got Ancestry membership I eventually tracked Mary on the electoral rolls. She was indeed a nurse and it looks like she was the private nurse of a wealthy family who lived at the Entrance, NSW. Her part of the story in Australia appears to have started prior to 1930 but there was no children with her. This explains how Pennington's medal ended up in Australia.
I eventually found Mary's death notice which made no mention of any children. Once again I parked the search.
The next time I had a look I decided to chased down the wealthy family to see if any of the children, who would now be in their 80s knew about Mary. I had no luck going down this particular rabbit hole.
Convinced that there was a living decendant out there somewhere I started all over again. By now the information available indicated one son had died as an infant and another was still alive. As the years passed I formed the opinion that there was either only one child or if there was two, both had died young.
Based on my notes I have gone over this particular case on no fewer than 9 occasions. I usually make all my notes on one side of an index card, occasionally I go to the reverse side and very rarely I start a second card. As pictured I've added note pages and Post-It Notes to the card as I've found more information.
I had a bit of time up my sleeve on Sunday so I revisited Pennington. From my previous searches I did know that Pennington had several siblings, his eldest brother was Howard. Some new information on Ancestry led me to a family tree which included Howard. With fingers crossed I sent off a message to the owner. Within 12 hours I had a reply and the tree owner is connected to Howard's great grand children. Finally I have a solution and I'll send the medal back to the UK in the near future.
I mentioned that Pennington had died of disease in 1917. His ship was patrolling in the North Sea at the time and the log shows his death. This link is to a transcript of the log and further links go to the scanned log pages. I have added a picture of the relevant page as well. Pennington's remains were interred at the Voe Cemetery on the Shetland Islands. Prior to WWI, Pennington worked as an insurance agent and he is memorialised on the Refuge Assurance Company War Memorial located in the grounds of Fulshaw Hall, Wilmslow, Cheshire.
Another point of interested, well to medal collectors any way, is what appears to be a naming mistake. Before the 'Z' of the service number there appears to be a misprinted letter followed by a dot and then the service number starts correctly.
After nine long years this search is done. I hope that Gary's email address is still active so I can let him know the result.
The returned medal tally is now 2046.

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