Jesse Jestico Marven, my great-grandfather, was born in Plaistow, Essex in 1889. He was working as a dock labourer in March 1909 when he signed up with the Royal Navy for five years, and served initially as a stoker. According to his record, he served on various vessels (Essex, Hindustan, Seahorse, Actaeon, Hermes) and shore bases (Victory II, Nelson, Pembroke), working his way up to Petty Officer (4th class) by 1916. From March 1913 he was paid an additional 4/- per week for ‘air service’ and was transferred to the Royal Fleet Reserve in Portsmouth, home to the newly formed Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). Jesse was part of Drake Battalion and went to Belgium at the start of the First World War, but was transferred to the Central Air Office at the end of 1914. He was issued with the 1914 star. Jesse continued in the air service until the end of the war and was transferred to the RAF when the RNAS and RFC were merged in April 1918. In the photo (left), he is wearing naval uniform with a Royal Flying Corps cap, so presumably it dates from just after the merging of the two air services. He continued in service with the RAF until 1921.
Jesse married Ann Kinnear Houison (born in Leven, Fife, 1889) in Edinburgh on 4 February 1914. On the basis of the dates of his air service and his marriage, it must be assumed he spent time prior to 1914 at Leuchars, which the RFC used as a Naval Fleet Flying School. He may also have spent time on HMS Jackdaw at Crail, which was also used for RFC training, or the Turnberry aerodrome in Ayrshire.
Jesse and Ann continued to live in Leven, and had four sons and one daughter (two of whom survived into the twenty-first century), including my grandad, also called Jesse, born in 1917. Jesse Jestico died in 1956 at the age of 67. My dad, one of nine grandchildren, remembers him well, and has passed on several (sadly unverified!) tales about him. Family lore has it that Jesse Jestico learned to fly in France, that he landed his aeroplane on Leven golf course, and that he was the last person officially allowed to fly his aeroplane under the central arch of the Forth (rail) Bridge.
Jesse Jestico Marven, b. 1889, Plaistow, Essex, d. 1956, Leven, Fife, relative of Dr Lyn Marven, Lecturer in German, CLAS.