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, Audrey 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  (He supplied horses and carriages) and enjoy his country pursuits such as hunting, fishing 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. In October 1918,  he was to due attend a Staff course in Cambridge, England and  his wife Bee and their two children Audrey and Peter and their French Governess all traveled with him. They were passengers  on Royal Mail Ship Leinster sailing from Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) to Holyhead. The ship was hit three times by torpedoes fired by a German submarine, UB 123.  527 people were drowned including Charles, both children and the French Governess. Bee survived. (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).

To learn more about the sinking of the  RMSleinster follow the link.

To view an excellent  Irish Programme about the Leinster follow this link. There are English subtitles. (The programme is in two parts with an ad break in the middle).

Charles’s eldest brother John (known as Jack) was killed at Gallipoli.

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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