Photograph courtesy of Chris Spurling
Born: 23rd October 1882, Bramford, Suffolk.
Died: 22nd September 1914; age 33; KiA with submarine in North Sea.
Residence: 18, Beaconsfield Road, Ipswich.
Enlistment Details: Date: 23rd October 1900 – signed up for 12 years. Age: 18 years; Occupation: Blacksmith’s Mate.
Joined the Royal Fleet Reserve – 26th October 1912.
Joined H.M.S. ‘Cressy’ – 2nd August 1914.
Rank: Able Seaman; Service Number: 208699 (Ch); Royal Navy, H.M.S. ‘Cressy’.
Relatives Notified & Address: Son of George Edward Larking, of 67, Sirdar Road, Ipswich;
1891 40, Tyler Street, Ipswich.
Charles was 9 years old and living with his parents & siblings.
George Edward Larking, 43, a Horse Driver – Railway, born Ipswich.
Annie Larking (nee Dawson), 44, born Ipswich.
William Edward Larking, 14, an Errand Boy, born Bramford, Suffolk.
George Herbert Larking, 12, an Errand Boy, born Bramford.
Edwin Larking, 7, born Ipswich.
John Larking, 4, born Ipswich.
Mary Ann M. Larking, 2, born Ipswich.
In 1911, Medway, Kent, Charles married Lilian Gertrude Russell, born May 1889. They had 2 daughters:
Alice A.M. Larking, born 1911, Ipswich.
Violet M. Larking, born 1913, Ipswich.
The Suffolk Chronicle & Mercury announced Charles’s death on the 9th October 1914.
Sketch of the H.M.S. Cressy sinking, by Henry Reuterdahl.
In August 1914 Cressy was considered to be an outdated and slow cruiser. During the Battle of Heligoland Bight, Cressy was kept at a range (100 Nautical Miles) west and saw no action. But was used to transfer wounded & prisoners to the Naze.
On the morning of 22 September, Cressy and her sisters, Aboukir & Hogue, were on patrol without any escorting destroyers as these had been forced to seek shelter from bad weather. The three sisters were steaming in line abreast about 2,000 yards (1,800 m) apart at a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). They were not expecting submarine attack, but had lookouts posted and one gun manned on each side to attack any submarines sighted. The weather had moderated earlier that morning and Tyrwhitt was en route to reinforce the cruisers with eight destroyers. U-9, commanded by Kapitanleutnant Otto Weddigen, had been ordered to attack British transports at Ostend, but had been forced to dive and take shelter from the storm. On surfacing, she spotted the British ships and moved to attack. She fired one torpedo at 06:20 at Aboukir which struck her on the starboard side; the ship’s Captain thought he had struck a mine and ordered the other two ships to close to transfer his wounded men. Aboukir quickly began listing and capsized around 06:55. Hogue was struck by two torpedoes around 06:55. The sudden weight loss of the two torpedoes caused U-9 to broach the surface and Hogue’s gunners opened fire without effect before the submarine could submerge again. The cruiser capsized about ten minutes after being torpedoed and sank at 07:15. Cressy attempted to ram the submarine, but did not succeed and resumed her rescue efforts until she too was torpedoed at 07:20. Kapitanleutnant Otto Weddigen had fired two torpedoes from his stern tubes, but only one hit. U-9 had to manoeuvre to bring her bow around with her last torpedo and fired it at a range of about 550 yards (500 m) at 07:30. The torpedo struck on the port side and ruptured several boilers, scalding the men in the compartment. As her sisters had done, Cressy took on a heavy list and then capsized before sinking at 07:55. Several Dutch ships began rescuing survivors at 08:30 and were joined by British fishing trawlers before Tyrwhitt and his ships arrived at 10:45. From all three ships 837 men were rescued and 62 officers and 1,397 enlisted men lost: 560 of those lost were from Cressy.
Charles is also remembered on the war memorial under Education at the Town Hall, Ipswich.