Name of Researcher / Enw’r ymchwylydd: Eifion & Viv Williams
Name of Memorial / Enw’r gofeb: Mold
Name / Enw: Blackburne Charles Harold
Regiment/Catrawd: 5th Dragoon Guards (Princess Charlotte of Wales’s)
Service Rank and Number / Rheng gwasanaeth a rhif: Lieutenant Colonel
Military Cemetery/Memorial / Fynwent milwrol: Royal Hospital Cemetery, Kilmainham
Country of Cemetery or Memorial / Gwlad y fynwent neu gofeb: Ireland
Medals Awarded / Medalau a ddyfarnwyd: DSO, Mentioned in Dispatches
Date and Circumstances of Death / Dyddiad ac amgylchiadau marwolaeth:
Died Aged 42 on 10th October 1918. He was a passenger along with his wife and two children on SS Leinster sailing from Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) to Holyhead. The ship was hit twice by torpedoes fired by a German submarine, UB 123. Charles and both children were drowned along with 526 other people. (The U Boat 123 was destroyed nine days later after running into a mine barrage that lay between Norway and Scotland. All on board were lost).
This extraordinary man’s extraordinary story is detailed in a memoir written by his brother Lionel. It was published in 1919 and is now available as a free download if you follow the link. http://openlibrary.org/b/OL7033616M/Charles_(Lieut.-Colonel_C.H._Blackburne_D._S._O._5th_Dragoon_Guards) The photographs below are taken from this book.
In summary, Charles was born in 1876, the third of four sons born to Charles Edward Blackburne and his wife Mary (nee Riley). The family background was comfortable and middle class. His father died when Charles was just eighteen months old and the mother made a home for her and the boys in Hastings. She remarried in 1881 a William Shadforth Bodger and a daughter was born in 1885.
Charles was not an academic. His great lifelong passion was horses and he became an expert on breeding, training and managing horses. He was an adventurer and spent more than a year travelling in Canada and Alaska. He tried his hand at farming but eventually joined the army and served in the Boer War. It was in this conflict that he was decorated. He stayed on in South Africa after the war and he married his long time sweetheart Emily Beatrice Jones (known as Bee) in 1903 and they began their life together in South Africa. Their first child, a daughter, lived for only 11 days. There followed two more children, Audry Beatrice was born in 1907 and Charles Bertram (Peter) was born in 1911.
After leaving South Africa, Charles bought ‘Tyddyn’ a house on the Wrexham Road just outside Mold. This family home enabled him to carry out his business affairs in Liverpool and enjoy his country pursuits such as hunting and shooting.
When the First World War began, he rejoined the army and fought in France. He was wounded badly in the shoulder in 1915 and could take no further active part in the conflict. He was given a staff position in the army in Ireland and he moved his family to Dublin to live with him there. He was in Ireland when the Irish Rebellion of 1916 took place. He was to due attend a Staff course in Cambridge, England which was the reason the family were sailing home on the fateful voyage in October 1918. To learn more about the sinking of the SS Leinster follow the link.
His eldest brother John (known as Jack) was killed at Gallipoli.
Transcript of tiny print at bottom half of news cutting above
A further loss in connection with the Leinster disaster has to be recorded.It now transpires that not only Lieut.Col Blackburne and his two children were drowned with the sinking of the Leinster on the 16th inst- Mrs Blackburne being the only survivor of the family party but that a Miss De Pury, a French governess who had been in the service of the Blackburne family for about a year and who was with them some little time at Mold before they took up their permanent abode in Ireland, was also drowned. The tragic details have aroused much sympathy with Mrs Blackburne who has through the disaster been deprived of husband and children and has also lost a faithful and dutiful governess.
Visit to The Royal Hospital Cemetery, Kilmainham, Dublin
On 18th April 2012, we visited this cemetery in the grounds of what had been a military home for ex servicemen. There were in fact two cemeteries and Captain Blackburne’s grave was in the one reserved for officers. The cemetery gate was locked but we were helped to get it unlocked by a member of staff who worked in the lovely big house which is now an art gallery.
The walled cemetery is a peaceful wooded and lawned garden and we found the Blackburne grave fairly easily. The inscription reads
To the Glory of God
and the beloved memory of
Lt Col Charles Harold Blackburne DSO
3/5 Dragoon Guards
Born 20 May 1876
Also Charles Bertram (Peter)
His son born 3 Sept 1911
Who are both buried here
Beatrice Audry born 24 June 1907.
All of whom lost their lives in the sinking of RMS Leinster by a German submarine 10th October 1918
When thou passeth through the waters I will be with thee.
Charles Harold Blackburne is also named on the Buckley memorial