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  • Commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. (www.cwgc.org)
Person Details
15 Jun 1888
Allington Lincolnshire
Charles was the eldest child of John Leeson and his first wife Mary Jane (née Willows). Hs father was born in Allington, Lincolnshire, in 1859 (bap. East Allington April 1859), the son of Thomas Leeson, a cordwainer, and his wife Jane (née Pearson). His mother Mary Jane was born in Foston, Grantham, in 1861, the daughter of John and Jane Willows. The couple were married at Foston in May 1887. They had two sons, Charles b. 15 June 1888 bap. East Allington 2 September 1888 and John b. 1890 Hawton Newark bap. Hawton All Saints June 1890. There may also have been three daughters: Alice Mary b. 1892 (reg Newark) no other record traced; Agnes Ann b. 1894 (O/N/D Mansfield) d. 1898 (O/N/D Mansfield) and Sarah Jane b. 1894 (O/N/D Mansfield) bap. Hawton All Saints February 1895 parents res. Hawton d. 1895 (A/M/J Newark). John, an agricultural labourer, and Mary were living on Newark Road, Hawton, with their sons Charles and John, in 1891. Mary probably died in 1895 (reg. J/F/M Worksop). John snr. married secondly Sarah Western in 1897 (reg. J/F/M Mansfield). They had seven children, two of whom died before 1911: William b. 1897, Thomas b. 1898 d. 1899, Frank b. 1901, Herbert b. 1902, Elizabeth b. 1904, Thomas b. 1905 d. 1905 and Sam birth registered 1907 (J/F/M) who died in 1917. All the children were born in Mansfield Woodhouse and their two eldest sons, William and Thomas, were baptised at St Edmund King & Martyr. In 1901, John, now working as a coal screener (pit bank), and his wife Sarah, were living at Hope Terrace, Leeming Lane, Mansfield Woodhouse, with John's two sons by his first marriage, Charles who was working in a cotton mill, and John, and their two sons, William and Frank. John's wife Sarah died in 1907 and by 1911 he was living in Mansfield Woodhouse with his brother-in-law, Herbert Marsden, and his wife Jane Elizabeth (née Leeson b. 1862 m. 1895 reg. Huddersfield). Also in the home were six of John's seven surviving children: John a wool card minder, William an office boy (law), Frank, Herbert, Elizabeth and Sam. Sam died six years later in 1917 (reg. Mansfield, buried 10 March). Charles had joined the Royal Marine Artillery in 1908. He was based at Eastney Barracks, Portsmouth, when he married Hilda Mabel Rich (b. Devonport 1888) at Portsea St Mary on 3 April 1910. They had two daughters, Evelyn Hilda b. 1910 (O/N/D) and Dorothy Mabel b. 1913. At the time of the 1911 Census, Charles was serving in HMS Black Prince while his wife and daughter Evelyn were living with Hilda's mother, Sarah Eliza Rich, a laundress, and her daughter Irene (7) on Napier Road, Southsea, Portsmouth. Hilda Leeson was living with her mother at 18 Marlborough Row, Portsea, Portsmouth, when Charles was killed in May 1916. Charles' father, John, probably died in 1938 (reg. Mansfield). Charles' half-brother William probably served with the 8th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (2209 Private), attesting on 8 September 1914 aged 19 years 6 months, occupation clerk. He served with the BEF France 2 March 1915-6 September 1915 and 27 February 1917-27 February 1917 and was discharged on demobilization February 1919. He was wounded on at least two occasions Mansfield Reporter, 22 January 1915: ‘In a list of local solicitors and their clerks with the forces compiled by the Nottingham Incorporated Law Society, we notice the following … Clerks. William Leeson (JE Alcock, Mansfield) private, 8th Battn. Sherwood Foresters.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)
1901 - working at a cotton mill and gave his trade as doubler cotton twill when he enlisted in the Royal Marine Artillery in April 1908. 1911 - serving in HMS Black Prince.
31 May 1916
3037092 - CWGC Website
Royal Marine Artillery
Royal Marine Artillery Charles Leeson joined the Royal Marines (Private, later Gunner) on 1 April 1908. He was 19 years 9 months old and employed as a doubler cotton twill (cotton mill). He named an aunt (name illegible), late of Mansfield Woodhouse, as his next of kin. Charles gave his religion as CofE but within a few weeks this was amended to Primitive Methodist and his name was later inscribed on the Wesleyan Church roll of honour. (See 'Extra information') He served in the following ships with short periods ashore between drafts: HMS Black Prince 5 April 1910-22 April 1912, HMS Queen 18 May 1912-14 February 1914, HMS Hogue 12 July 1914-24 July 1914 and HMS Invincible 3 August 1914-31 May 1916. He was serving in the flagship HMS Invincible (Rear Admiral The Hon. HLA Hood), Grand Fleet 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron, when Invincible was sunk at the Battle of Jutland. A shell, which hit the midship turret, descended into the magazine causing an explosion which broke the ship in two. There were only six survivors from a ship's company of over 1,000. Charles's body was not recovered for burial and he is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial (21). www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205193540. Photograph, description: 'The bow and stern of HMS INVINCIBLE sticking out of the water as the battlecruiser sinks during the battle of Jutland after she was hit five times by shells from the German battlecruisers DERRFLINGER and LUTZOW, the last hit blowing the roof off "Q" turret and setting fire to the cordite propellant, the flash soon spread to the magazine and INVINCIBLE was ripped in two by the explosion. There were only six survivors with those killed including Rear-Admiral The Hon Horace Hood. The photograph was taken from HMS BENBOW and shows the destroyer HMS BADGER moving in to rescue survivors.'
Portsmouth Evening News, 9 & 10 June 1916, ‘Portsmouth Heroes of the Jutland Battle’: ‘Leeson. May 31st, by sinking of HMS Invincible, Charles, Gunner RMA, the dearly-loved son-in-law of Mrs Rich, 18 Marlborough-row, Portsea. Bless our loved one’s lonely pillow Far, far at sea.’ ‘Leeson. May 31st, by sinking of HMS Invincible, Charles, Gunner RMA, the beloved brother-in-law of Syd Rich, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Brantford, and Queenie. One of the best.’ ‘Leeson. May 31st, by sinking of HMS Invincible, Charles, Gunner RMA, aged 27, the devoted husband of Hilda Mabel, 18, Marlborough-row, Portsea.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Mansfield Reporter, 16 June 1916: ‘Roll of Honour. The name of Private Charles Leeson, Royal Marine Light Infantry (sic), heads the Roll of Honour at the Primitive Methodist Church. We regret to hear that he was one to ‘go down’ with his ship, the ‘Invincible’, during the great naval battle. He has been a little over eight years in the navy, and was doing well in the service.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Mansfield Reporter, 18 August 1916: ‘Roll of Honour. A roll of honour bearing the names of those who have joined HM Forces from the Wesleyan Church and Sunday school, has been given a prominent place in the Wesleyan schools. The roll, which bears 35 names, is headed with the name of Gunner Charles Leeson, one of our brave lads who went down with HM Ship, the ‘Invincible’, in the naval engagement a short time ago. Others on the roll who have made the supreme sacrifice ar Privates Geo. Blythe, J Odam and W Chantrey. The roll, which is in an oak frame, has been beautifully inscribed by Mr M Pogson, of Mansfield.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Manfield Reporter, ‘In Memoriam,’ 1 June 1917: Leeson. In loving memory of Gunner Charles Leeson who lost his life in the Jutland Battle, May 31st, 1916.’ (www.britishnewsapperarchive.co.uk) Mansfield Reporter, 9 November 1917 (extract): ‘For those who have fallen. An impressive service was held at the Wesleyan Church on Sunday evening, when reference was made to a number of gallant men who had been connected with that community, and who had laid down their lives for their country. Mr J Simpson Alcock, of Mansfield, occupied the pulpit, and read out the seven names of those who had fallen. These were: Gunner C Leeson, Sergt, George Cooper, Pte JG Glidewell, Pte J Odam, Pte W Chantry, Pte G Blythe, and Pte A Hart. In expressing, on behalf of the church and congregation, deep and heartfelt sympathy to those who were bereaved, Mr Alcock remarked that the three years of war had been a sore trial to all, but in the homes from which the boys had gone gladly to serve their country and into which they would never return was darkness and sorrow.’ (www.britishnewsapperarchive.co.uk)
Remembered on


  • Commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. (www.cwgc.org)
    Charles Leeson - Commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. (www.cwgc.org)