160142 Chief Petty Officer Charles Hucklesby, Royal Navy
Born on 20th March 1876 in St Margaret’s, Ivinghoe Parish
Died on 10th August 1937 in Portsmouth
Charles (Charley) Hucklesby was born in Ivinghoe, Buckinghamshire, the third of the 6 children of William Hucklesby and Fanny née Collyer.
His siblings were:
- Brother: George born in 1871
- Sister: Susan born in 1873
- Brother: Frank, born 22nd May 1880
- Sister: Kate born in 1884
- Brother: Henry (Harry) Hucklesby, born 29th April 1888
In the 1881 Census, the family’s address is recorded only as Village, Little Gaddesden. However, from its position in the list of properties between the Bridgewater Arms Hotel and the School House, No 26, it is believed to be 20 Little Gaddesden, where they are shown in 1891. Charles’ father was an Agricultural Labourer, working for Mr Underwood at Church Farm. In 1881 Charles, 5, was at school, as was his sister Susan, 8. His 10 year old brother George was an Agricultural Labourer and his mother, 31, a Straw Plaiter. His brother Frank was a 10 month old infant.
Charley Hucklesby attended Little Gaddesden School, though entries in the School Log Book indicate that he did not find this an altogether agreeable experience.
17th August 1885:
Received a note from Mr Underwood complaining that Charles Hucklesby has done injury to a valuable pig during yesterday afternoon (Sunday). I have since called upon his Mother and find she sent him to School (Sunday School) and Church twice yesterday. So I feel justified in punishing him for being absent contrary to her wish, & shall leave the other matter to be settled between his Father and Mr Underwood, especially as Mr Hucklesby works on Mr Underwood’s farm.
The School Log Book includes several references to Charley Hucklesby’s absences. It includes a copy of a note from the exasperated Head Master to Mrs Hucklesby, dated 13th August 1886:
I have again to call your attention to Charley’s irregular attendance at School. During the present week he has been absent five times. He is now in Mr Allison’s meadow, where he has been lying since before two o’clock. I shall enter a copy of this letter in the School Log Book and send another to Mr Baines, the School Attendance Officer.
Mr Allison was Proprietor of the Bridgewater Arms Hotel and his meadow was the field between there and the School.
At Work and back to School 5
The School Log Book of 12th September 1887 notes that:
The following boys have had their names taken off the School Registers, having received their Labour Certificates and gone to work – George Hawkins, Francis Rogers, Arthur Wibden, George Austin and Charles Hucklesby.
However, on 2nd January 1888, the Headmaster records: “Opened School after Xmas Holiday. Readmitted Charles Hucklesby of Little Gaddesden, George Smith and George Draper both of Ringshall.” At that time, it was quite usual for boys who had been at work, mainly farm work, during the summer and autumn to return to school for the winter.
It seems that Charley did not stay at school for long as, on 9th May 1888, the Log Book entry notes: “Gave Charles Hucklesby a 3rd Standard Certificate of Proficiency”. He was then able to leave school, aged 12, to go to work full time.
In the 1891 Census, 15 year old Charley was an Agricultural Labourer, living at 20 Little Gaddesden with his parents and siblings Susan, 18, a General Domestic Servant, Frank, 10 and Kate, 6 at school and 2 year old Harry Hucklesby. Just over three weeks later, he joined the Royal Navy and his previous trade was recorded as “Labourer (Farm Stables)”.
On 30th April 1891, Charles Hucklesby joined the Royal Navy as a 16 year old Boy Sailor 2nd Class. He was 5 feet 4¾ inches tall with brown hair, grey eyes and a ruddy complexion. He trained aboard HMS Boscawen at Portland and was promoted to Boy Sailor 1st Class on 5th May 1892.
His subsequent postings as a Boy Sailor 1st Class were:
- 18th January 1893 – 28th February 1893, HMS Alexandra
- 1st March 1893 – 24th May 1893, HMS Achilles & Victoria
- 25th May 1893 – 22nd August 1893, HMS Cruizer
- 23rd August 1893 – 19th March 1894, HMS Fearless, a torpedo cruiser
Signing up for Twelve Years’ Naval Service 2
On 20th March 1894, his eighteenth birthday, Charles Hucklesby signed up for twelve years’ Naval Service. He was then 5 feet 11 inches tall with dark brown hair, blue eyes and a ruddy complexion. He continued to serve aboard HMS Fearless until 29th October 1894.
As an Ordinary Seaman, Charles then served aboard the following ships:
- 30th October 1894 – 23rd January 1895, HMS Victory I at Portsmouth
- 24th January 1895 – 23rd May 1895, HMS Australia, an armoured cruiser, the coast guard ship for Southampton Water
- 24th May 1895 – 25th August 1895, HMS Active
From 26th August 1895 until 8th November 1898, Charles served as an Able Seaman
- 26th August 1895 – 15th October 1895, HMS Active
- 16th October 1895 – 2nd December 1895, HMS Excellent, the Naval Gunnery School at Whale Island, Portsmouth
- 3rd December 1895 – 11th December 1895, HMS Victory I at Portsmouth
- 12th December 1895 – 7th June 1897, HMS Royal Sovereign, a Royal Sovereign Class Battleship
- 8th June 1897 – 8th November 1898, HMS Mars, a Majestic Class Battleship
Promoted to Leading Seaman 2
On 9th November 1898, while serving aboard HMS Mars, Charles was promoted to Leading Seaman. He remained on HMS Mars until 10th January 1899, before transferring to HMS Victory I at Portsmouth.
Petty Officer 1st Class 2
On 8th February 1899 Charles was promoted again, to Petty Officer 1st Class. He was on HMS Victory I at Portsmouth until 31st March 1899 then HMS Duke of Wellington I until 25th June 1899. He then transferred to HMS Wildfire, a shore establishment at Sheerness, where he stayed until 27th June 1901, before returning to HMS Duke of Wellington I at Portsmouth.
In 1899, Charles Hucklesby married Evalina May Wingate. The marriage was registered in the 3rd Quarter of 1899 in the Portsea Island District. Their daughter Florinda Fanny Kate Hucklesby was born on 9th August 1900 and their son Charles Frank Hucklesby on 28th December 1901.
Further Service 2
Charles’ subsequent Naval Service was as follows:
- 10th October 1901 – 15th July 1902, Petty Officer 1st Class, HMS Formidable, a Formidable Class Battleship, in the Mediterranean.
- 16th July 1902 – 31st August 1902, Petty Officer 1st Class, HMS Duke of Wellington I at Portsmouth
- 1st September 1902 – 31st August 1903, Acting Chief Petty Officer, HMS Asia
- 1st September 1903 – 23rd October 1904, Chief Petty Officer, HMS Asia
Charles and Evalina’s second daughter May Evalina Hucklesby was born and died in Portsmouth in 1904. Her birth was registered in the 2nd Quarter and her death in the 3rd Quarter of that year.
From October 1904, Charles’ service was as follows:
- 24th October 1904 – 11th March 1905, HMS Fire Queen at Portsmouth
- 12th March 1905 – 30th April 1905, HMS Brilliant, a Royal Naval Reserve Drill Ship at Southampton
- 1st May 1905 – 5th February 1906, HMS Hebe, a Torpedo Gunboat
- 6th February 1906 – 4th August 1906, HMS Victory I at Portsmouth. Charles completed his period of 12 years Naval Service on 20th March 1906 and opted to continue to serve.
- 5th August 1906 – 19th January 1907, HMS Vernon, the Naval Torpedo School at Portsmouth
- 20th January 1907 – 4th February 1907, HMS Victory at Portsmouth
- 5th February 1907 – 9th January 1909, HMS Eclipse, a Light Cruiser attached to the Royal Naval College, Osborne
- 10th January 1909 – 17th August 1911, HMS Amethyst, a Light Cruiser
In the 1911 Census Charles is recorded as a Chief Petty Officer, R.N., serving aboard H.M.S. Amethyst at Buenos Aires. However, his wife Evalina and children Florinda aged 10 and Charles aged 9, who are both at school, were living at 35 Carnarvon Road, Copnor, Portsmouth. His family moved to 56 Aylesbury Road, Landport, Portsmouth in 1912 and remained there until 1918 or 1919.
Following service on HMS Amethyst, Charles served briefly on HMS Vernon at Portsmouth, the Minesweeper HMS Speedwell and HMS Victory I at Portsmouth, before being posted to HMS Southampton.
On 26th November 1912, Chief Petty Officer Charles Hucklesby joined the Chatham class Light Cruiser HMS Southampton on which he served until 1917. In August 1914 she was the flagship of the Grand Fleet’s 1st Light Cruiser Squadron, leading Division 1 of that Squadron at the battle of Heligoland Bight on 28th August 1914.
Then, in mid-December 1914 she participated in attempts to intercept the German ships that had launched a raid on Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool, opening fire on the German light cruisers.
In January 1915, she was the flagship of the 1st Light Cruiser Squadron during the battle of Dogger Bank and was the first ship to sight the German battlecruisers.
Between 1915 and 1917, HMS Southampton was flagship of the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron under Commodore Goodenough. She was involved in the Battle of Jutland and, during the night action on 31st May and 1st June 1916, her squadron of four ships came into contact with the German 4th Scouting Group of five cruisers. HMS Southampton was hit by 18 shells, leaving 37 men dead and 40 wounded. However, during that clash, HMS Southampton fired the torpedo that sank the German cruiser Frauenlob with all hands.
After the battle, HMS Southampton had to conduct immediate repairs to shell holes near the waterline. She therefore reached Rosyth twelve hours after the rest of the battlecruiser fleet and was immediately taken in for repairs, which took three weeks.
Awarded the French Medaille Militaire 15
The Supplement to the London Gazette, 15th September 1916 records the following:
The President of the French Republic has bestowed the “Medaille Militaire”, with the approval of His Majesty the King, on the undermentioned Commissioned Warrant Officers, Warrant Officers, Petty Officers and Men in recognition of their services during the war :-
… Chief Petty Officer Charles Hucklesby, O.N. 160142.
Charles completed his War Service as Chief Petty Officer aboard HMS Furious, on which he served between 1st July 1917 and 5th February 1919. HMS Furious was a Battle Cruiser which underwent conversion into an Aircraft Carrier. However, although it was possible for aircraft to fly off the ship, trials landing on her met with little success and were subsequently banned.
After 24 years of Naval Service, Charles was discharged on 6th February 1919. In addition to the French Medaille Militaire, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.
Charles’ Naval Record includes an annual summary of his character. This was consistently recorded as Very Good; he earned three Good Conduct Badges in 1897, 1902 and 1907. Then, from 1912 until his discharge in 1919, his conduct is recorded as Superior or Excellent. The reluctant schoolboy had proved himself an excellent and brave sailor.
Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”
Charles Hucklesby, Royal Navy, is named on the Roll of Honour, which hangs in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden and lists 119 men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Hudnall who served in the 1914 – 1918 War. He is similarly shown on the Centenary Revision of the Roll. His younger brother Harry Hucklesby, Army Service Corps, is also named on both Rolls.
Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver
After his discharge from the Royal Navy, Charles, Evalina and their family continued to live in Portsmouth. By 1920 they lived at 317 Laburnum Grove, Portsea, where they stayed until at least 1927. However, the 1921 Census shows Evalina at that address but Charles as an Able Seaman in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service aboard RFA Argo at Devonport Dockyard.
Charles’ wife, 53 year old Evalina May Hucklesby, of 26 Kimberley Road, Southsea, Portsmouth, died on 19th January 1932. At that time Charles was a Rigger in H.M. Dockyard, Portsmouth.
However, Charles, aged 61, died in St Mary’s Hospital, Portsmouth on 10th August 1937. His address was then 30 Sydenham Terrace, Portsmouth.
5. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1872 – 1887 and 1887 – 1906
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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson