Blackburne, Charles Harold

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.  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.


Lieutenant Colonel Charles Harold Blackburne


A younger Charles



Charles the horseman


‘Tyddyn’ the family home near Mold in Flintshire



Peter and Audrey. A watercolour by Miss K Mayers



County Herald 17th September 1915


County Herald 18th October 1918


County Herald 18th October 1918


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.



Within the War Memorial ‘chapel’ in Mold Parish Church there is a statue of the Virgin Mary and child that was placed in the 1920s in an empty very old alcove, highly decorated with carved stone angels. The words at the foot of the statue say ‘in Loving memory of Audrey and Peter October 18th 1918 . The name Blackburne is on the right hand side of the base.
















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.

Mold Blackburn 001

The Times 20th November 1922.


Follow the links to view the pages of Joseph Francis McIntosh (Connah’s Quay) and  George Wright Mole of Bagillt who also lost their lives on the Leinster.

Charles Harold Blackburne is  also named on the Buckley memorial


Learn more about the other soldiers on the Mold Urban Memorial

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