was born in the tiny village of Westbourne just inside the Sussex border
with Hampshire, not far from Havant, on 30 September 1918. Ten years later
his mother died, and he was separated from his brother and they were brought
up by separate relatives.
In 1933 aged 14½ he applied to join the Royal Navy and was "guided"
into the Royal Naval School of Music, where he was attested at Eastney
Barracks and on a train the next day for Deal, where he commenced his
service as a Clarinet & Violin on 1 February 1933.
After 3½ years training, where he loved the excellent sports facilities,
he was ready for sea and embarked with a band in the 8-inch County class
cruiser Devonshire under Bandmaster Harvey.
This commission was in the Mediterranean Fleet, normally a quiet peace-time
sojourn; however just at this time- 1936- the Spanish civil war broke
out, and while Great Britain was not directly involved, units of the fleet
were at times employed in operating blockades, and in assisting British
nationals and refugees caught up in the fighting, which led at one time
to Devonshire getting bombed in Barcelona.
Back in Malta, Charlie continued to take a full part in most sports, especially
swimming, water-polo and soccer.
Just as the commission ended after the usual 2½ years away in May
1939, the imminent war decided Drafting to transfer the entire ship`s
company to a same-class cruiser Norfolk for the Home Fleet, where Charlie
was to spend the next 3½ years.
This at least gave him shore opportunities and leave in England and it
was on such a spell of leave that he met Joyce at her 21st birthday party
in 1942 and they were married in October of that year.
These early war years were gruelling times, with the band watch-on watch-off
in the TS deep down below, the ship being on convoy escort duties, interspersed
with other critical incidents such as the chase and sinking, together
with other Home Fleet ships, of Bismarck.
Promotion to Temporary Band Corporal in May 1941 was confirmed, in March
Long months on Russian convoy duties through the Arctic, then another
Fleet action, this time against against Scharnhorst which led to more
damage requiring Norfolk`s refit.
In 1943 Chas had a much needed spell ashore when he was a musical instructor
at the Junior Wing at Howstrake Camp, Isle of Man until February 1945
when he joined Belfast for the Far East Fleet. After hostilities finally
ceased against Japan in August 45, like most other ships they were employed
for some months in repatriating PoWs who had suffered so terribly from
the bestial treatment by their Japanese captors.
In October 1946 the band transferred on station to HMS Bermuda, another
cruiser where on 1 March 1947 Charlie found himself promoted to Bandmaster
Returning in June 1947 to RNSM, by now at Burford, he was drafted as a
Volunteer Band Instructor to HMS Ariel at Worthy Down, Hants. It was during
this spell that the rank of BMr 2 was discontinued and all holding the
rank converted to the new rank of Band Sergeant; naturally all such holders
feeling a distinct loss of standing and prestige.
Charlie`s time was rapidly approaching for either re-engagement for pension
or discharge, and it was in common with many of his generation that they
probably felt that the fact that they had survived, where many of their
pre-war former Band Boy colleagues were in a watery grave, meant they
ought to put their wives and families first, and take up "civvy street".
So Charlie`s last months were spent in RNSM before he was finally drafted
in late 1948 to RM Barracks Chatham for discharge.
In civil life Charlie settled in North Street, Deal with Joyce where they
raised a son and daughter, Bob & Angela, and Chas was employed as
manager of the Deal Council`s Astor Hall in Stanhope Road. For relaxation
he played in an orchestra at Folkestone; he also did gigs on Alto sax
in the Lido dance band from Sandwich, where this present writer shared
many a Jimmy Lally number.
In the late 1950s he was employed at Pfizers, the pharmaceutical firm
at Sandwich where he worked until retirement in 1975. He was also a very
dedicated freemason, being initiated into Globe & Laurel Lodge No
4657 Deal, progressing to Worshipful Master and later a very respected
Director of Ceremonies of the Lodge. He enjoyed over 50 years in the fraternity.
His earlier sporting exploits had, with the years, become more sedate
and he took up bowls and gained county honours for Kent.
Charlie had a long, eventful and full life that he would have been the
first to say had been thoroughly interesting. He lived to the age of 93
and always remembered his years in the Band Service with great pride and