Charles Walker, (RN) SS.1069, HMS Good Hope
Lost at sea 1st November 1914 in the Pacific Ocean off Coronel, Chile, aged 29
Charles Walker was born on 11th January 1885 in Bollington, the son of Phoebe and Charles Walker, a blacksmith. In 1891, Phoebe was the landlady of the Railway Inn on Princess Street, Bollington, where Charles lived with his parents and older brothers Alfred and Frank. By 1901, the family had moved to Adlington Road, Bollington and Charles (jnr), then 17 years of age, was employed as a tinplate worker; and by 1911, they had moved again to 14 Garden Street, Bollington and Charles (jnr), still unmarried, was a tin smith.
Charles joined the Royal Navy on 8th September 1905 for 5+7 years of service (5 years service, followed by 7 years in the reserve). He was described as being 5 feet 7¾ inches tall, chest 36¾ inches, brown hair and eyes, with a fresh complexion, two scars on his forehead and one on his left knee. He completed his five years of service with a ‘Very Good’ character reference and transferred to the Royal Naval Reserve on 8th September 1910. On 13th July 1914 he was recalled for war service, and he transferred to HMS Good Hope on 31st July.
HMS Good Hope was the flagship of a small squadron of ageing ships, under the command of Vice Admiral Sir Christopher Craddock, which sailed from Plymouth in August 1914 to intercept the return to European waters of the German Asiatic Squadron under command of Vice Admiral Graf von Spee. The two squadrons encountered each other near Coronel on the Chilean coast. The German ships were more modern and largely out-gunned the British ships. HMS Good Hope sustained serious damage, caught fire, exploded and sank with the loss of all hands on 1st November 1914. Charles’ death was reported in the Macclesfield Courier & Herald, which stated he left a widow and one child, living in Balham, London.
Stoker Charles Walker was lost at sea and has no known grave. He is commemorated on Panel 2 of the Portsmouth Naval Memorial and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Charles Walker, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
A Coronel Memorial website has been created by a descendent of one of the men who died, dedicated to those who lost their lives in the Battle of Coronel.