John Charles Biles

Date of birth: 6th January 1888
Place of birth: Shirley, Southampton
Regiment / Division: Royal Navy
Vessel: HMS Bulwark
Rank / Service No: Petty Officer Stoker
Died: 26th November 1914, aged 26 years
Commemorated: Portsmouth Naval Memorial


John was the third of 5 known siblings born to John and Phoebe JANE Biles (nee Brown), who married in Southampton in 1882.

It is known that the couple had 6 children so it must be assumed that one died in infancy.

John Snr. was born in Southampton in 1861 and he died in the city in 1928.

Jane was born in Fordingbridge on 20 February 1860, and she was living at 1, Waterhouse Way, Shirley in 1939.

She passed away in 1942.



George Bryant   b. 1883 Shirley   d. 1968 Romsey   Married Maryithia Dora Hibberd in Shirley in 1905.

Ann Eliza Bryant   b. 1886 Shirley   d. 1964 Romsey   Married Harold W. Phillips in Southampton in 1920.

John Charles

Frederick William   b. 1891 Shirley   d. 1948 Southampton

Bessie Jane   b. 6 March 1898 Shirley   d. 1968 Southampton   Married George F. Pearce in Southampton in 1919.

Married Robert L. Murdoch in Southampton in 1958.

John married Beatrice May Ingram, who was the sister of George Thomas Ingram, another name on the Southampton Cenotaph.

Beatrice was born in Shirley in 1887. The couple wed in the third quarter of 1914, which means they had very little time together as a married couple

Beatrice married Archibald J. Meager in Southampton in 1918, and she passed away in the city in 1970

John wasted little time in wanting to go to sea once he left school; he joined the Royal Navy on 12 June 1906, and joined Bulwark on 4 August 1914.

Bulwark was a London class battleship, which entered service with the RN in 1902. She sailed with the Mediterranean fleet until 1907 before returning to home waters.

In 1912, the vessel was refitted and immediately became part of the 5th Battle Squadron. At the outbreak of war, the Squadron was attached to the Channel Fleet, patrolling the English Channel.

On 26 November, when anchored off Sheerness, a “large internal explosion” destroyed the vessel, killing 736 men.

8 of the fourteen survivors died later in hospital, between November 1914 and January 1918.

After an exhaustive enquiry it was decided that the explosion was caused by over-heating cordite charges that had been placed adjacent to a boiler room bulkhead.


Researcher: Mark Heritage
Published: 30th May 2016


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