Born in Stretton, Warwick on 21st May 1894, Charles’ parents were George and Marjorie who got him baptised just over a month after he was born, on 1st July.
Charles had joined the Navy on 26th July 1910, leaving his errand boy job and began his training at HMS IMPREGNABLE as a Boy 2nd Class until 5th November 1910. He moved to the Suffolk coast and continued his basic Navy training at HMS GANGES from 6th November 1910 until 30th September 1911, rising to Boy 1st Class on 29th June 1911.
His service follows:
HMS LEVIATHAN - 01/10/1911 - 14/01/1912
HMS VICTORY I - 15/01/1912 - 24/01/1912
HMS CAESAR - 25/01/1912 - 27/02/1912
HMS PEMBROKE I - 28/02/1912 - 04/03/1912
HMS SHANNON - 05/03/1912 - 20/01/1913 rising to Ordinary Seaman on 21st May 1912. He spent 14 days in cells from 17th September 1912 (it is unknown what for but his character was classed as fair). He deserted the ship on 20th January 1913 and was returned on 25th January - for this he was given 90 days detention for attempting to join the Army.
HMS VERNON - 04/05/1913 - 09/05/1913
HMS PEMBROKE I - 10/05/1913 - 21/08/1913
HMS CHATHAM - 22/08/1913 - 26/05/1916, rising to Able Seaman on 19/10/1914
HMS PEMBROKE I - 27/05/1916 - 30/05/1916
HMS HECLA (VICTOR) - 31/05/1916 - 17/11/1916
HMS ATTENTIVE - 18/11/1916 - 24/11/1916 (spending a further 30 days in imprisonment due to breaking out)
HMS PEMBROKE I - 23/12/1916 - 17/01/1917
HMS VANGUARD - 18/01/1917 - 09/07/1917
He was 5’3” tall with tattoos on his left wrist and scars on his right elbow.
At the time he was killed he was expecting to be sent on leave. His friend, Leading Seaman George Tarton, wrote:
“I have been fortunate in serving with him aboard H.M.S. --- in two campaigns, both in the Dardanelles and in German East Africa. Under the most adverse circumstances, he has been the life and backbone of the party, fearless in action, and straight as a die. I myself owe my life to his resourcefulness and courage, but he made me promise to say nothing of it. On one occasion, I remember, we had been through some exceedingly rough weather, and the wind was still high and the sea rough. The ship’s company’s pet, a minor bird, was blown into the water, and without hesitation, the late Seaman Johnson dived in and saved it, though he had to make three attempts, for he was not a strong swimmer then. I am sure the deepest regret will be felt by the members of the old ship’s company at the news of his death, and they will join me in extending the deepest sympathy to the bereaved family.” Luton News 2nd August 1917
He was awarded the Star,Victory and British medals and remembered on the Chatham Naval Memorial.
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Warwickshire, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1910 Warwickshire County Record Office; Warwick, England; Warwickshire Anglican Registers; Roll: Engl 09000/91; Document Reference: DR 699/1
Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, 1848-1939 National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services; Class: ADM 188; Piece: 665
British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960 National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Admiralty: Naval Casualties, Indexes, War Grave Rolls and Statistics Book, First World War.; Class: ADM 242; Piece: 008 (1914 - 1919)
Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972 Class: ADM 171; Piece: 106
Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 TNA Series: ADM 242/8; Scan Number: 1147
Photo courtesy of worldwar1luton.com