by Helen Moon
This is the first in a series of blogs picking out the fascinating stories that have come to us as part of the ‘Making Woolwich’ exhibition project. Over the course of a whole series of events throughout 2016, we met with members of the public and some of them shared stories about their family members and their connections to the Royal Regiment of Artillery.
John Murray Rymer-Jones entered the Royal Military Academy on Shooters Hill aged just 16. Midway through the First World War, he finished his training and joined 174 Battery Royal Artillery as a young officer, aged 19.
Photographs show a slim young man with a small moustache. It was grown, he said, so that “his men would be more respectful” to him and to make him look older. He kept a moustache all his life, despite his daughter (Mrs Patricia Holmes) saying “we always tried to persuade him to cut it off!”.
Pat also recalls a moment when they were looking back over photos of him in the First World War, to which she said they were “a pretty scruffy looking lot”. He replied, “we were in the middle of a battle!”
John was awarded the Military Cross twice during the First World War, and undertook a wide range of duties, including working as a Forward Observation Officer and commanding units of mortars.
In late 1934, John retired from the Royal Artillery and joined the Police, serving in Palestine and eventually becoming Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.
We would like to thank John’s daughter and Woolwich resident Mrs Patricia Holmes for sharing his story with us. Do you have a family member in the Royal Artillery that you wish to know more about? Are you interested in discovering your family’s history? Then contact or visit the Search Room at Greenwich Heritage Centre, and the team there will help you to find out more.
Do you have a story that you would like to share? Leave us a message in the comments are contact Greenwich Heritage Centre on 020 8854 2452.