Charles Henry Back WW1

Charles Henry Back was the younger brother of William Ernest Back and is not on the Bishopsteignton War Memorial but was buried in St John’s churchyard, Bishopsteignton. He served in the Royal Navy – Service No K6263 – and was a Stoker Petty Officer during WW1. He was killed in an accident whilst serving on HMS Vivid II at Devonport on 7th January 1920.

Early Life

Charles Henry Back was born on the 7th Jan 1892.

In 1901 Charles was 8 years old, at school and was living in Radway Street with his parents Robert (an agricultural labourer) and Eliza, (née Yeoman) along with his sister Florence aged 22 years (a domestic housemaid), and Richard aged 17 years ( a plumber). Interestingly there was a visitor staying at the time of the census Ann Williams (a retired sick nurse) aged 90 years!

He married Lilian Love in Lyme Regis on Feb 12th 1919.

Military Experience

Charles  joined the Royal Navy on the 28th April 1910 aged 18 years, Service No K6263. He was described as having brown hair, with blue eyes, 5’4″ in height and his occupation at the time was a gardener. He was described early on as “capable of taking charge” and clearly rose in the ranks serving on HMS Ajax in the North Sea during the war becoming a Stoker Petty Officer.

Death and Burial

Charles survived the war but according to the Western Times he was tragically killed in an accident when he was travelling back to Rosyth to rejoin his ship. As the train was approaching Holme, near Peterborough, the carriage door flew open, he fell out and was killed instantaneously. It was his birthday, 7th January 1920, and he was 28 years old.

His wife Lilian living at 17, Avenue Road, Newton Abbot was informed, as well as his mother Elizabeth at Higher Radway Street. He is buried in St John’s churchyard on the north side of the church.[1]

Lillian’s details are  later recorded on his headstone as

Husband of Lilian Back 29, Laura Road, St Michael’s, Paignton.


Are you a descendant or relative of the Back family who clearly lost 2 sons around the Great War period? Do let us know.

One Reply to “Charles Henry Back WW1”

  1. The story of William and Charles is all part of the WW1 tragedies that impacted so many villages across Britain.
    Richard, William, Charles and Fred were all cousins.

    Harriet Back’s blind husband J P Gourd died in 1915. On the 29th November 1916, her niece Florence Martin (nee Back), sister of William and Charles, wife of Thomas Martin of the Devonshire Regiment got news that he had been injured by a bomb explosion in the trenches. (Whilst he survived, his brother, Harry Martin was killed on the 25th November 1918.)

    Harriet then had news that her nephew Richard Ernest Gill had been killed on the 7th March 1917, then nephew William Ernest Back on 6th June and finally her grandson, Fred Burgess killed in action on the 11th August 1917. The Great flu epidemic took another nephew, John Back on 5th November 1918 and another of her nephews, Charles Henry Back died on active service on the 7th January 1920.

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