Date of birth: 3rd February 1892
Place of birth: Millbrook, Southampton
Service No.: PO/16003
Regiment / Division: Royal Marine Light Infantry
Ship: H.M.S. Black Prince
Died: 31st May 1916 aged 24 years
Death Location: At sea
Life before the War
James Charles was born 3 February 1892 Millbrook, Southampton. His parents were James Jesse and Sarah, nee Taylor, who married in 1878 in the New Forest district, Hampshire. His father was born in Havant, Hampshire 1844 and died 1911, his mother was born in 1851 in Lyndhurst, Hampshire and died 1904. James Charles had just one sibling, his sister Florence May who was born 1879 Millbrook. She married George L Larbalastier.
In the 1881 and 1891 censuses James Jesse with his wife Sarah and daughter Florence May were all living at Redbridge Lane, Millbrook, Southampton. James was an Engine Fitter.
By 1901 Florence was no longer living at home. At Redbridge Lane was James Jesse, his wife Sarah with son James Charles. James Jesse worked at the Gunpowder Works as a Labourer.
The 1911 census shows James Jesse was a widower, living with his daughter Florence and son in law George Larbalastier and their five children, two of whom are George’s step children from Florence’s first marriage. Also living with them was James Charles, shown as Charles, who was employed as a General Labourer. They were living at Laurel Cottages, Redbridge Road, Millbrook, Southampton.
James enlisted with the Royal Marine Light Infantry in April 1911. He was drafted to H.M.S. Black Prince on which he was killed on 31st May 1916 as a direct result of enemy action by the German Fleet. His body was never recovered for burial.
He is Remembered with Honour on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, in Hampshire.
After the First World War an appropriate way had to be found of commemorating those members of the Royal Navy who had no known grave, the majority of deaths having occurred at sea where no permanent memorial could be provided.
An Admiralty committee recommended that the three manning ports in Great Britain – Chatham, Plymouth and Portsmouth – should each have an identical memorial of unmistakable naval form, an obelisk, which would serve as a leading mark for shipping. The memorials were designed by Sir Robert Lorimer, who had already carried out a considerable amount of work for the Commission, with sculpture by Henry Poole. The Portsmouth Naval Memorial was unveiled by the Duke of York (the future George VI) on 15 October 1924.
The Commonwealth War Graves document gives James’s parents names in their “additional information” section. The Royal Navy and Royal Marine Graves Roll gives his sister Florence May Larbalestier of 2 Laurel Cottages, Redbridge Road, Millbrook, Southampton as name of “relatives notified and address”.
HMS Black Prince was a Duke of Edinburgh class armoured cruiser of the Royal Navy, built by Thames Ironworks, launched 8th November 1904 and commissioned 17th March 1906. At 13,500 tones she carried six 9.2-inch guns, ten 6-inch guns and 22 3-pounder guns. At the beginning of the war the Black Prince was one of the four armoured cruisers serving in the First Cruiser Squadron. The Black Prince participated in the Battle of Jutland where she became separated from the rest of the British fleet and approached German lines in error. The German battleship Thüringen and five other close ships bombarded the Black Prince which was quickly sunk with heavy loss of life.
National Roll of the Great War
Fisher, J.C., Private, R.M.L.I (note initials give as J.E.)
“He was serving at the outbreak of war in August 1914, having enlisted in April 1911 and was immediately posted to H.M.S. Black Prince. With this ship he was engaged on important duties with the Grand Fleet in the North Sea and lost his life on May 31st 1916 when she sunk at the Battle of Jutland. He was entitled to the 1914 – 1915 Star, and the General Service and Victory Medals.
Redbridge Road, Millbrook, Southampton”.