Saturday, 29 July 2017

Remembering a Luton Sailor

HMS Vanguard 1915 [Imperial War Museum under IWM Non Commercial Licence]

Sunday 29th July 1917: One of the men lost in the sinking of the HMS Vanguard at Scapa Flow earlier this month was Luton sailor Charles Johnson, the son of Mrs. Johnson of 24 Ash Road. Able Seaman Johnson had been with the Navy for seven years and saw much active service abroad. More recently he had been drafted to the Home Fleet, serving first on a torpedo boat destroyer, and then on the Vanguard for the past seven months. At the time he was killed he was expecting to be sent on leave. His friend, Leading Seaman George Tarton, writes:

“I have been fortunate in serving with him aboard H.M.S. --- in two campaigns, both in the Dardanelles and in German East Africa. Under the most adverse circumstances, he has been the life and backbone of the party, fearless in action, and straight as a die. I myself owe my life to his resourcefulness and courage, but he made me promise to say nothing of it. On one occasion, I remember, we had been through some exceedingly rough weather, and the wind was still high and the sea rough. The ship’s company’s pet, a minor bird, was blown in to the water, and without hesitation, the late Seaman Johnson dived in and saved it, though he had to make three attempts, for he was not a strong swimmer then. I am sure the deepest regret will be felt by the members of the old ship’s company at the news of his death, and they will join me in extending the deepest sympathy to the bereaved family.”

Source: Luton News 2nd August 1917

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