John CHARLES – Gresford War Memorial

Researched and compiled by Mavis Williams

John Charles was the son of John and Mary Ann Charles (nee Evans) who married on the 30th December 1879 at Oswestry.   John Charles junior was born on the 19th January 1883.

Sadly John Charles Senior was to die on the 6th November 1889, age 30 years, (Oswestry Vol. 6a, Page 454), so the 1891 census sees the family living at Three Trees, Whittington, Shropshire with Mary Ann a widow with 3 children.   Mary Ann, 35, was a Charwoman, who had been born in Llanfyllin, Denbighshire.   John, Junior, 9, had been born in Oswestry, Elizabeth, 3 and baby Jane, 6 months old had been born in Whittington, Salop.   There were 3 lodgers in the household as well.

John Charles , Senior died 6th November 1889, Oswestry, age 30, his daughter Jane was born 4th June 1890, according to the family tree of C BARR FAMILY TREE   Chrissy_Barr, but on the  1891 census (Taken on the 3rd April 1891) she was 6 months old, which doesn’t tally.    Sadly Jane would never have seen her father.  (I found this possible birth in the September quarter of 1890:- CHARLES    Jane,  Oswestry               Vol. 6a Page 673)

I cannot find John Junior on the 1901 census, but his family had moved to Chester, living at 10, Edna Street, Hoole.    Mary Ann, 39 and a widow was now a Landlady (Lodgers) on her own account at home.   Daughter’s Elizabeth, 13 and Jane, 10 were also in the household, with 3 Lodgers.

I wonder if John was also in Chester in 1901, as on that census Frances Mary Williams, his future wife, was also living in the same city as his mother and siblings, at 1, Paradise Row, Chester.   Frances, 20 was a Servant in the household of Emma Williams and her daughter Emma, who had both been born in Carnarvon, so I don’t think they are connected.

In any case they met and married in St. Giles, Church Wrexham on the 26th April 1904, John states he was a Fireman, age 22, his father John Charles was deceased and his address was 47, Hightown Road, Wrexham, whilst Frances Mary lived at No. 37,was  aged 23, a  Spinster and Domestic Servant.   Her father was John WILLIAMS, a Labourer.    Their Witnesses were William JONES and Emily MASON.

The couple were to be blessed with 1 son, John, 5 and 2 daughters, Frances Mary, 6 and Nellie, 2.   They are all on the 1911 census before disaster befell them with the death of Frances Mary*, age 30 later that year.   They were living at 21, Oxford Street, Wrexham Regis, Denbighshire in 4 rooms.   John’s sister Jane , 20 and a Domestic Servant who had been born in Whittington with a Niece, Bessie age 6 months was also living there.   Was Frances Mary Ill then?   John was a Fireman in the Cobden Flour Mills** and he tells us that they had been married 7 years and 3 children had been born to them and were still living.

* Frances Mary CHARLES died 15th September 1911, according to the family tree of C BARR FAMILY TREE   Chrissy_Barr

** By 1940 change was on the cards in Wrexham. The Cobden Flour Mill chimney was demolished along with the historic Town Hall and adjoining Hand Inn; the Grove Park Amateur Dramatic Society built a headquarters, gas masks were distributed and white lines were painted on roads, pavements and car bonnets in preparation for black-outs.

When WW1 broke out John entered War Service in the Royal Navy on the 30 Mar 1915:-

Period of Service on Victory: 30 May 1915 – 4th September 1915

Period of Service on Hector (Victor):  5th September 1915  – 30th June 1916

Period of Service on Partridge : 1st July 1916 – 12th December 1917 Missing when HMS Partridge was sunk 12th December 1917.

John Charles in the UK, Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 tells us that his place of birth was Oswestry and his birthdate was 19th January 1883, although on other documents the year is shown as 1882.   Service details are correct on the Commonwealth War Graves Certificate and that his Relatives were notified.   Children John and Francis(sic) Guardian Mrs E Shore High Street, Gresford, Nr Wrexham

John Charles in the UK, Royal Navy Registers of Seamen’s Services, 1848-1939 tells us his first ship was the Victory and his occupation before the war was Fireman.   He was described as Height: 5 feet 9 and ½ inches, Chest: 41 inches  , Hair: Brown, Eyes: Grey and Complexion : Fresh.   He was awarded the Star, Victory Medal and British War Medal.

HMS Partridge was a Royal Navy Admiralty M-class destroyer constructed and then operational in the First World War, later being sunk by enemy action in 1917. The destroyer was the sixth Royal Navy vessel to carry the name HMS Partridge.[1]


The vessel was assigned to the Fourteenth Destroyer Flotilla by July 1916.[2] On 11 December 1917 the destroyer left from Lerwick on the Shetland Islands, along with HMS Pellew and several armed trawlers to escort six merchant ships to Bergen, in Norway.[3] The convoy was spotted by a flotilla of German destroyers and they unsuccessfully fought an engagement with the attacking destroyers, with Partridge being hit repeatedly by shells and torpedoes.[3] The destroyer subsequently sank in the North Sea on 12 December 1917.[4] Reports indicate that 97 of the crew were killed and only 24 were rescued.[3] The wreck is believed to be off the Norwegian coast.[3] One incident of reported heroism in the sinking, in which a Lieutenant Grey sacrificed a place in a life-raft for another officer resulted in the award of the Stanhope Gold Medal by the Royal Humane Society.[3]

HMS Partridge
Casualty Lists

THE TELEGRAPH  Saturday 1st July 2017

How WW1 sailor saved his life by laying it down for a friend

Amid a conflict marked by devastation and desolation, it stands out as an utterly selfless act.

 HMS Partridge explodes and Lt. Commander Aubrey Grey (inset) Photo: COLLECTS BY CHRISTOPHER JONES FOR THE TELEGRAPH

Jasper Copping By Jasper Copping7:15AM BST 15 Sep 2013

As their ship sank in icy waters off the Norwegian coast, two Royal Navy officers found themselves in rough conditions a quarter of a mile from a life raft, their only apparent prospect of survival.

One of them, Lt Launcelot Walters, was exhausted and close to drowning so had to be helped by the other, Lt Aubrey Grey, who, although wounded, was the stronger swimmer.

When the pair reached the raft, however, they found room enough only for one on board. Grey insisted his exhausted comrade Walters take the final spot, while he swam off, his fate seemingly sealed.

In the event, only one of the men lived. But in a twist of fate, it was Grey who survived, when he was picked up by one of the German ships which had sunk their vessel, while Walters was never rescued.

This remarkable tale of heroism is one of many to have emerged after an appeal by The Sunday Telegraph for readers to contact us with their stories about the First World War, as we produce a series of supplements ahead of the centenary of the conflict’s outbreak next year.

Excerpt taken from HMS Partridge

Posted 12 Feb 2011 by bcwlewis

The following page contains the details of those who lost their lives during the sinking of HMS Partridge on 12th December 1917.  :-

Lieutenant Lancelot John Barrington Walters. Born Castle Bromwich Age 22

Son of the Rev. Charles Barrington Walters, and Selina H. P. Walters (nee Massy Beresford) of Sywell Rectory Northampton. PNM

The following is from a plaque in the Parish Church of Stoke Climsland Cornwall. Where Rev. C. Walters was incumbent Vicar.

In loving memory of Lancelot John Barrington Walters Lieut. RN

HMS Partridge

Who lost his life in action Dec. 12th. 1917

In the North Sea

In spite of A gallant Attempt to Save Him


Sub Lieut. Aubrey Egerton Grey RN

Stoker 1st. Class John Charles K/25113 PNM 26

Researched and compiled by Mavis Williams

Gresford War Memorial

Frances Mary Williams and child
CHARLES, John Scroll
CHARLES, John Service record

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply