RAYNER, Charles

No. SS/1083, Able Seaman, Charles Alfred RAYNER
Aged 27

Royal Navy, HMS "Hawke"
Killed in Action on Thursday, 15th October 1914

Charles RAYNER was born in Lakenheath on 5th June 1887. (Mildenhall Q3-1887 4A:699), the son of Charles and Alice RAYNER (née NEAL). It was a second marriage for Alice but her 1st had not so far been positively identified, but it seems likely she was Alice BARBER who married John NEALE in 1877. .

1891 census... Aged 3, Charles was living in Eriswell Road, Lakenheath with his father Charles [36] a shepherd, birthplace unknown; his mother Alice [36] born Lakenheath; Emma [12]and half brother John NEAL [9] (by 1st husband);brothers Herbert [2] and Sargent [2 months]. All the children were born in Lakenheath.

1901 census... Aged 14.Charles was a shepherd's boy,living with his parents at Webb's Lane, Hockwold (father now recorded as born in Bungay), with half brother John Neale (postman), brother Herbert, brother Victor [10] born Lakenheath and sister Maud [8] born Wilton.

1911 census... Aged 23, Charles is assumed to be the police constable lodging with the Savage family at 66 Siebert Road, Blackheath, London SE. His parents and brother Herbert and Victor were in Hockwold. 4 of their nine children had died.

It was to his Sister: Mrs Emma Stokes, 21 Warwick Gardens, Harringay that the Navy notified his death. Charles is mentioned in De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour

H.M.S. Hawke, launched 1891 was an Edgar Class protected cruiser. One claim to fame in 1911, in the Solent, was colliding with the "Olympic", a ship of the White Star line (think Titanic). Fitted with a new prow, the Hawke resumed service, the Olympic's damage was a mere scratch to a vessel of her size.
ON 15th October 1914, the Hawke, commanded by Capt.Hugh P.E.T. Williams, sailing with her sister ship Theseus, was torpedoed by German submarine U-9. The submarine's first torpedo missed Theseus but hit Hawke, igniting a magazine and causing a tremendous explosion which ripped the ship apart. Hawke sank in a few minutes, with the loss of her captain, 26 officers and 497 men. Only 70 crew members survived.


HMS Hawke before the collision, note raked prow

HMS Hawke after the collision................R.M.S. Olympic

© Commonwealth War Graves Commission

No Known Grave
Charles Rayner is commemorated on the Chatham Memorial, panel 3

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details