Charles Knight

Date of birth: 1892
Place of birth: Hedge End, Southampton
Regiment: Hampshire
Battalion: 2nd
Rank / Service No: Private, 10776
Died: 13th August 1915, aged 23 years
Commemorated: Helles Memorial, Turkey


This is a complicated family story, involving a father who appears to have had a relationship with his “servant” after the death of his wife.


Charles was probably the third of 5 siblings born to Henry Knight and Emma Whitmarsh.


Henry was a farmer, at Holly Grove Farm in Northam Road, Hedge End. He had been born in the village in 1832 and he married Sally Wilkins in Botley on 17 January 1871.

It appears they had one child in their 12 years of marriage.


Sally Emery had married Stephen Wilkins in Fareham in 1853. Stephen died in Hedge End on 26 April 1869, but not before the couple had 3 children.


12 years after Henry and Sally’s wedding, Sally passed away at the farm.


Someone who had been present at the farm since at least 1891 was Emma Whitmarsh. She is shown as a “servant” in 1891, as “married” in 1901 and as a “servant” at 1911.


Emma seems to have had 4 daughters living at the farm; the birth dates suggest that they are probably Henry’s.


Henry died at the farm in 1918 and Emma passed away in Winchester in 1936.



Annie Elizabeth   b. 25 February 1885 Hedge End   d. ??   Married Tom Pearce in Hedge End in 1906. 

Emily   b. 1887 Hedge End   d. 1980 Southampton   Married Wilfred Alfred Haynes in Hedge End in 1905.


George (Whitmarsh)   b. 1901 Hedge End   d. 1980 Southampton


For some reason, Charles was living with his sister Annie and family in Church Road, Sholing at the 1911 Census.



Charles was one of 1367 officers and men who embarked on HMT Royal Edward at Avonmouth on 28 July 1915, bound for Gallipoli via Alexandria.


The vessel arrived at Alexandria on 10 August. It then departed, bound for Moudros on the island of Lemnos….this was a staging point for the Dardanelles.


On the morning of 13 August, the Royal Edward passed the British hospital ship Soudan heading in the opposite direction.

Oberleutnant zur See Heino von Heimburg in UB-14 was off the island of Kandeloussa and saw both vessels.


He allowed Soudan to pass unmolested, but launched one of the two torpedoes, from about 1 mile away, at the Royal Edward.


The ship was hit in the stern, and sank within six minutes. The returning Soudan and other vessels managed to rescue 661 men but 935 perished, amongst them Charles.


The death toll was so high because most of the men were below decks restowing their equipment, having just completed a boat drill.


There were 211 Hampshire Regiment soldiers on board, of which only 29 survived.



Researcher: Mark Heritage
Published: 6th October 2016


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