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Charles Oliver Bridgeman Private, RMLI (Ch) 20209

Charles was born on 1st October 1898 in Swindon, Wiltshire to parents George and Emily and baptised on Christmas Day 1898 at St Mark’s church in Swindon. He was the fifth child of seven in the family and first listed on the 1901 census aged two. The Bridgeman’s lived at 44 Princes Street along with two boarders who worked as labourers, possibly along with George Bridgeman. Ten years later, on the 1911 census, several of Charles’s older siblings had left home, leaving him and four of his kin remaining with their parents where they still all resided at 44 Princes Street. Charles was then aged 12 and attended school.

He joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry aged 17, enlisting on his birthday in Bristol. He had had some work experience as a smith striker but became a Private, beginning training in Deal until 5th April/1916. He transferred to Chatham on 6th April 1916 until 3rd November 1916 before embarking to his first vessel, HMS JUPITER where he stayed for a month. He then transferred to HMS CORMORANT from 5th December 1916 until 16th February 1917, having 17 days back at Chatham Division before being posted to his final ship, the dreadnought HMS VANGUARD on 7th March 1917. He was only aboard for four months before being killed in the explosion.

He was described as being 5’4” tall with blue eyes, brown hair and a fresh complexion. His pension was awarded to his mother, his father was issued with Charles’s Victory and British war medals.

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England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 Free BMD

Wiltshire, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1916 Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre; Chippenham, Wiltshire, England; Reference Number: 1065/7

1901 & 1911 England Census

UK, Royal Marines Registers of Service Index, 1842-1925 ADM 159/133/20209

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: 007 (1914 - 1919)

CWGC Register

Navy Lists, 1888-1970 National Library of Scotland; Edinburgh, Scotland; British Navy Lists. National Library of Scotland, 2020.; Reference: 92149074

WWI Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923 Western Front Association; London, England; PRC Ledgers; Reference: 745/11PP

Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972 Class: ADM 171; Piece: 167

Photo courtesy of Paul Williams

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