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  • Photograph was published on 21st June 1916 in the Nottingham Evening Post and is courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918
Person Details
29 Dec 1896
Charles Norman was the eldest child of Arthur Brown and his wife Elizabeth Ann nee Roe. Arthur was born in Nottingham as was his wife, Elizabeth. Elizabeth was the daughter of James and Mary Roe; her birth was registered in 1873 (J/F/M Radford). Arthur and Elizabeth were married in 1896 (J/A/S Nottingham) and had five children: Charles Norman b. 20 December 1896 (birth registered 1897 J/F/M Nottingham), Harold b. 1898, Agnes b. 13 February 1900 (J/F/M Nottingham), Emily b. abt 1900 and Lucie b. 11 December 1903 (birth registered 1904 J/F/M Nottingham). In 1901 Arthur (27), an overlooker, and Elizabeth (29) were living at 1 Alfred Terrace, Bridlington Street, St Ann's, with their three children, Charles (4), Harold (2) and Agnes (1). Also in the household were Charles Roe (25), a leather dresser, and his wife Nelly Roe (21); Charles was probably Elizabeth's brother but he and his wife were described as boarders. Arthur and Elizabeth subsequently had two more daughters, Emily and Lucie. Charles' mother, Elizabeth, died in 1908 (A/M/J Nottingham) aged 35. Charles joined TS Exmouth, a training ship, on 18 May 1910 at the age of 13 and was discharged in May 1912 to the Royal Navy (HMS Impregnable). (For TS Exmouth see 'extra information') In 1911 when Charles was still at TS Exmouth, his siblings, Harold (12) a grocer's errand boy, Agnes (11), Emily (9) and Lucie (7) were living at 22 Nettham (or Mettham) Street, Lenton, Nottingham, with their maternal grandparents, James Roe (59) a registration clerk (political) and Mary (62). Also in the household was the children's aunt, Sarah Ann Roe (35) a lace mender. The children's father, Arthur Brown, has not been traced after 1901. Charles' grandmother, Mary Roe, was notified of her grandson's death in 1916, she was still living at 22 Nettham/Mettham Street, Lenton. Mary Roe died in 1928 (Jun Nottingham) aged 80 and her husband James Roe died in 1934 (Sep Nottingham) aged 82. Of Charles' siblings: Harold has not yet been traced after 1911. Agnes appears to have married Frank U Richardson in 1919 (O/N/D Nottingham) and secondly John A Holtby in 1936 (J/F/M Patrington Yorkshire East Riding). There is a record of the death of an Agnes Holtby, b. 13 February 1900, in 1971 (Dec Hull Yorkshire East Riding) at the age of 71. Emily has not yet been traced after 1911. Lucie Brown, a dairy clerk, appears on the 1939 England & Wales register at 8 Highfield Street, Nottingham. Her date of birth was given as 11 December 1903, she was single and her surname 'Brown' was officially altered to 'Holtby'. Also in the household was Eva Dyer (b. 23 November 1884), single, a lace joiner. There is a record of the marriage of a Lucie Brown to John A Holtby in 1977 (A/M/J Hull Yorkshire East Riding); this was six years after the death of Agnes Holtby. Lucie Hotlby (b. 11 December 1903) died in 1987 (Mar Hull Humberside) aged 83.
31 May 1916
2865459 - CWGC Website
Able Seaman
HMS Defence Royal Navy
Charles joined the Royal Navy aged 15 on 11 May 1912 direct from TS Exmouth and was rated Boy 2nd Class. On his 18th birthday on 29 December 1914 he signed on for 12 years and was rated Ordinary Seaman and then Able Seaman on 29 July 1915. His first ship was HMS Impregnable (11 May 1912-3 October 1912), followed by HMS Leviathan (4 October 1912-9 January 1913), HMS Vivid I (10 January 1913-27 January 1913), HMS Condor (28 January 1913-22 February 1913), HMS Donegal (23 February 1913-8 May 1913), HMS Vivid I (9 May 1913-14 May 1913) and HMS Defence (16 May 1913-31 May 1916). HMS Defence was a Minotaur class first class armoured cruiser, which exploded and sank during the Battle of Jutland with the loss of all hands. Charles' body was not recovered for burial and he is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Devon. He qualified for the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. An account of the loss of HMS Defence was given by an officer on HMS Obedient of the 12th Destroyer Flotilla: "There was one incident at "Windy Corner" which, alas, was more prominent than any other. From ahead, out of the mist there appeared the ill-fated 1st Cruiser Squadron led by the Defence. At first, the Defence did not seem to be damaged, but she was being heavily engaged, and salvoes were dropping all around her. When she was on our bow, three quick salvoes reached her, the first one "over", the next one "short" and the third all hit. The shells of the last salvo could clearly be seen to hit her just abaft the after turret, and after a second, a big red flame flashed up, but died away again at once. The ship heeled to the blow but quickly righted herself and steamed on again. Then almost immediately followed three more salvoes. Again the first was "over", the second one "short" and the third a hit, and again the shell of the hitting salvo could be clearly seen to strike, this time between the forecastle turret and the foremost funnel. At once, the ship was lost to sight in an enormous black cloud, which rose to a height of some hundred feet, and from which some dark object, possibly a boat or a funnel was hurled into space, twirling like some gigantic Catherine-wheel. The smoke quickly clearing, we could see no sign of a ship at all - Defence had gone. Mercifully this death, by which the 900 or so officers and men of the Defence perished was an instantaneous one, causing them probably no suffering." (www.devonheritage.org/Places/DevonCounty/JutlandHMSDefence)
The training ship TS Exmouth was moored on the Thames off Grays, Essex. Originally an 1854 built battleship, she was replaced by an iron and steel ship of similar appearance in 1905. The training ship was managed by the Metropolitan Asylums Board and trained poor boys who lived within the metropolitan Poor Law area in seamanship to prepare them for a career at sea. In 1902 the intake was extended to boys outside the metropolitan area. (www.childrenshomes.org.uk /TSExmouth) LMA (London Metropolitan Archive) holds the record books of most of the boys who served on TS Exmouth (ref: MAB/2512) from 1876 to 1941 documenting over 17000 young men. https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/london-metropolitan-archives/the-collections/Pages/ts-exmouth.aspx Two other Nottingham sailors were also lost in HMS Defence: AB Walter Ernest Fox of Arnold and AB Cecil Charles Lear of Mapperley. Nottingham Evening Post, 'Roll of Honour' (abridged), 21 June 1916: 'AB CN Brown, of Lenton, lost with Defence, age 19.'
Remembered on


  • Photograph was published on 21st June 1916 in the Nottingham Evening Post and is courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918
    Charles Norman Brown - Photograph was published on 21st June 1916 in the Nottingham Evening Post and is courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918