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Boughton, Dunkirk & Hernhill
War Memorials



CHARLES EDGAR ARNOLD

Stoker 1st Class RFH/CH/B/9600 RN, HMS Cressy


who died on 22 September 1914       Age 26

Charles Arnold was the oldest of five children of Charles and Eliza Arnold, who at the time of the 1901 census were living in The Street, Boughton. His father was a farm labourer.


He joined the Royal Navy in 1908 at Chatham and according to his naval record was first assigned to the stokers’ training ship HMS Acheron, before going on to serve on the battleships Implacable, Venerable and St George. In July 1914 he joined  the cruiser HMS Cressy.


By the time of the 1911 census, his family had moved to Staplestreet; his brothers were also now farm labourers but two then joined the Royal Navy, two joined the Royal Garrison Artillery. The 1911 census also shows that his mother (then 46) had had 10 children, two of whom had died.


On 22 September 1914, three armoured cruisers, HMS Cressy, Aboukir and Hogue, were torpedoed  by one German submarine, in an area off the Dutch coast known as the Broad Fourteens. The cruisers had been attempting to keep the River Scheldt open, by hampering German mine laying activities.  


The old Bacchante class  cruisers and their men were known as "the live bait squadron”  because the  vessels stood little chance against  more modern  and powerful  surface raiders and submarines. Total losses in less than one hour were 3 cruisers, 62 officers and 1,397 men. There is a detailed account of the action and its aftermath on Wikipedia ( follow this link), and summarised on one of our “Miscellany” pages.   


Two local men were among those who perished.  Charles Edgar Arnold, aged 26, was a Stoker lst class on HMS Cressy.  William Edward Harvey was a Petty Officer Stoker on HMS Aboukir.


Stoker Charles Arnold and Petty Officer William Harvey are remembered with honour at the War Memorial at St Michael's Church, Hernhill, and also at Chatham Naval Memorial, which commemorates those members of the Royal Navy who have no known grave. The Naval records show that Charles’ body was not recovered for burial.


The following tribute appeared in the Faversham and North East Kent News, published on Saturday 24th October 1914, under the heading  Hernhill's Naval Heroes:


“The Parish of Hernhill already has to mourn the loss of two men who during the present war have laid down their lives for their country.  


They are Charles E. Arnold of H.M.S Cressy, and A.E. Harvey, petty officer of H.M.S. Aboukir.  The former belonged to a family which has been well known in Hernhill for many years.  Of the five sons, two joined the Royal Navy, (Charles being one), and two have lately enlisted in the Garrison Artillery.  


Charles always bore an excellent character and was generally liked and esteemed. Petty Officer Harvey belonged to a family more recently settled in Hernhill.  He, too, was a man of high character and he leaves a mother and wife to lament his loss.


A memorial service for the two men was held last Sunday evening, when the parish church was filled with parishioners anxious to pay their tribute of respect to the deceased.  The service was conducted by the Vicar, Rev.  A. Clark, who paid glowing tributes to the character and heroic spirit of the two men.  The Dead March (in Saul) and Mendelssohn's Funeral March were impressively played by Miss Foreman at the commencement and close of the service, respectively.  Before the service the ringers rang muffled peals.”


Chatham Naval Memorial

Sources:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission website: CWGC.org

Faversham and North East Kent News

Royal Navy and Royal Marine Graves Roll and naval ratings records

National Archives in association with Ancestry.com.  1901 and 1911 England census database.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Cressy_(1899)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Aboukir_(1900)

Photos - Owen and Wikipedia

Top: HMS Cressy

Bottom: Sketch of the Cressy sinking, by Henry Reuterdahl

Chatham Naval Memorial

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