The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Charles Billings


Charles Billings was born in 1870 in West Hoathly, Sussex to Edwin Billings and Margaret Wickham. He was the youngest of their three children and the only son. Edwin was a Farmer and Charles worked as a Domestic Gardener. In 1900 he married Mahalia Francis in Uckfield in Sussex. She had been born Frances Amelia and despite calling herself Mahalia on the marriage certificate, her father-in-law named her Amelia in the 1901 census. She continued as Mahalia until her death in 1943.

Charles and Mahalia had one son, Herbert, while they were living with his parents, but he died in 1902. A daughter, Winifred, was born in 1903 and another son, Edwin in 1909. By that time they had their own home in Chelwood Gate, close to Mahalia’s birthplace, and his parents had also moved to that village.

Charles initially enlisted in the Royal Sussex Regiment (Number 3548) where he was a Private. He transferred to the Military Police Corps in December 1917 and in October 1918 he was a Lance Corporal with the Military Foot Police. It is not known if he was on duty when he travelled on RMS Leinster on the 10th of October; there was another Military Policeman on board that day, Lance Corporal Arthur Hewitt.  Or he may have been stationed in Ireland and was returning home on leave. He did not survive the sinking but his body was recovered and he was buried in Grangegorman Military cemetery in Dublin. His name is also recorded on the Dane Hill War Memorial not far from Chelwood Gate. Mahalia’s address in 1918 was given as Stanford Avenue in Brighton.




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