Rank or Title
Date of Birth
Date of Death
9 Jul 1917
Place of Birth
World War I Address
Place of Death
War Memorial Location
Soldier or Civilian
Able Seaman Charles Johnson, RN (J/9150), was a man with family living in Luton who was lost when HMS Vanguard sank following an internal explosion while at anchor at Scapa Flow on July 9th, 1917. His body was never recovered for burial.
Born in Stretton on Fosse, Warwickshire, in 1894, he joined the Navy in July 1910 as a boy sailor, probably before parents George and Marjorie Johnson moved to Luton. They were living at 24 Ash Road at the time of his death.
In his seven years in the Navy he had seen much active service. He was stationed in the Mediterranean at the outbreak of war before being drafted to the Home Fleet. He served on a torpedo boat destroyer before joining the crew of HMS Vanguard for about seven months. He was expecting leave when the ship was blown up with him on board.
Following news of the loss of AB Johnson, chum Leading Seaman George Tarton wrote to The Luton News to say: "I have been fortunate in serving with him in two campaigns, both in the Dardanelles and in German East Africa. Under the most adverse circumstances he has been the life and backbone of the party, fearless in action and straight as a die. I myself owe my life to his resourcefulness and courage, but he made me to promise not to say anything of it.
"On one occasion, I remember, we had been through some exceedingly rough weather and the wind was still high and the sea rough. The ship's company pet, a minah bird, was blown into the water and, without hesitation, the late Seaman Johnson dived in and saved it, though he ad to make three attempts, for he was not a strong swimmer then.
"I am sure the deepest regret will be felt by the members of the old ship's company at the news of his death."
Charles Johnson is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial and Luton War Memorial.