People on board
BLACKBURNE, Charles Bertram (Peter)
Charles Bertram, known as Peter, was born in October 1911 in Mold, North Wales to Charles Harold Blackburne and Emily Beatrice (Bee) Jones. His parents had grown up as friends in St Leonard on Sea, near Hastings in Sussex but they married in 1903 in Durban, in South Africa. This was because Charles, having fought in the Boer War, had a position as Manager of the Transvaal Horse Breeding Department. A daughter was born late in 1903 who lived only eleven days. The climate and living conditions did not suit Bee and she returned to England in 1905, followed by Charles the following year.
The family settled in Liverpool where Charles was Managing Director of White’s Carriage Company. However they moved to an estate near Mold in North Wales, named Tyddyn, where Charles was able to live the life of a country gentleman as well as work in Liverpool. Peter and his sister Audrey, born in 1907, must have had a somewhat idyllic childhood surrounded by horses and country life.
This life would have changed when his father re-enlisted in the army in August 1914 and went to France. Charles was wounded in the shoulder in 1915 and brought back to England, where he was confined to desk duties. He was sent to Ireland in early 1916 and was in Dublin during the Easter Rebellion. Bee and the children remained in Mold until January 1918 when they joined Charles in Dublin.
On the 10th October the family was travelling to England on RMS Leinster so that Charles could attend a staff course in Cambridge. The children were accompanied by their governess, Rose de Pury, which suggests they may have planned to stay in England for some time. When the ship was torpedoed they were all thrown in the water. Bee was rescued, but the last that was seen of Audrey and her father was of her on his back as he tried to swim to safety. The bodies of Charles and Peter were recovered, but not those of Audrey or Rose de Pury. They were buried four days later in Dublin in the cemetery attached to the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, following a funeral service conducted by the Church of Ireland Primate.
All Blackburne photographs from “CHARLES” by Lionel E. Blackburne, publ. 1919