Charles Walker, Able Seaman (RN) SS.1069, HMS Good Hope
Lost at sea 1st November 1914 in the Pacific Ocean off Coronel, Chile, aged 31
Charles Walker was baptised on 7 February 1883 at Christ Church, Macclesfield, the son of Annie (nee Savage) and Charles Challinor Walker, a grocer, who married at Prestbury in 1879.
In 1891, eight-year-old Charles was living at 246 Crompton Road, Macclesfield with his parents, sister Annie (10) and widowed maternal grandfather, John Savage. Ten years later in 1901, the family had moved to 82 Chester Road where Charles was working for his father and living with his parents and siblings Annie (20) and Harold (5).
Charles Walker senior died in 1904 and his widow died the following year.
By 1911 Charles and his younger brother Harold were living at 45 Wilfred St, Moston, Manchester with their sister Annie, who was married to Alfred Edwin Bradshaw, a Gawsworth man employed as a police constable by the Manchester Police Force. Charles was employed as a postman and his brother was a telegraph messenger.
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. Charles was recorded as being born in 1885; it’s not known whether he gave the wrong age or if it was a clerical error. He completed his five years of service with a ‘Very Good’ character reference and transferred to the Royal Naval Reserve on 8th September 1910.
As a reservist, Charles returned to the Navy for his annual month’s training on 13 July 1914, and was transferred to HMS Good Hope on 31st July. As a result of this training period Charles was already serving when war was declared in August 1914.
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. AB Walker’s death was reported in the Macclesfield Courier on 21 November 1914:
MACCLESFIELD MAN ON THE “GOOD HOPE” – One of the men on the ill-fated “Good Hope” was Mr Charles Walker, son of the late Mr Charles Walker of Chester Road, Macclesfield. He had served his time at sea and was on the Naval Reserve and was just completing his annual month’s training when war broke out. He leaves a widow and one child.
AB Walker’s widow was named in his service records as Annie E., of 243 Cavendish Rd., Balham, London, S.W.
Able Seaman 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.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births, Deaths
Diocese of Chester Parish Baptisms (Find My Past): Christ Church, Macclesfield
Census (England & Wales): 1891, 1901, 1911
British Royal Navy Seamen 1899-1924 (Find My Past)
British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1914-1919 (Ancestry, Ref ADM 242/10)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Macclesfield Courier: 21 November 1914