Budden, Charles Richard

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Page 1 Photo source: Colin Budden

MR CHARLES BUDDEN
I was born in Askew Road Shepards Bush in a house of a row of houses that have now been knocked down, and replaced by shops. I think the Co-op is in the position where that house was. I am now 91 and trying to recall my early life. I went to Victoria School, Becklow Road. I remember and incident, must have been about 6 years old. Askew Road was bein repaired in those days, wooden blocks were being used ad the woman who looked after me, may father had died and mother was left with four boys to care for, so she had to go to work at a laundry. Kids were pinching the old blocks that we being replaced by new. This woman sent me to get some of the old blocks for her fire. Of course there were hardly an traffic in those days, no cars, very little horse drawn or anything else. But it was my luck to be run over by a two wheeled vehicle owned by a Farmer J Bates, who had a shop near, and sold eggs, bacon and such provision. This trap had run over my legs, someone who knew me went for my mother who worked near, and I remember being nursed by her while sitting on the curb. A(?) well I was taken to a doctor in Basein Park Road. He did what he could, eventually I got over it..

A more pleasant incident, while still at school, King George V Coronation. He was classed as the children's friend and to celebrate his crowing loads of children were invited to the Crystal Palace. At our school children were chosen by being lined up in a room and passed a table which had a container that had foled papers that had been numbered, I believe up to 30. When I got to it, I saw 11 through the paper and of corse grabbed it, so had a nice day out.

Medals, were given for good attendance etc. yearly. I had five when I left at the age of fourteen and so had to get work 1912. So I went to a labour exchange, and was told we have just the job which turned out to be a job with little or no wages, which did not please mother as in her situation, money was important. So I got a job in a printing dept belonging to J Lyons & Co in Chiswick 6 shillings a week. I had to gather printed papers from the machines, straighten and count, and prepare some for cutting to size, others parcel up to be sent to different places. Sometimes I had to show a girl who had been taken on how to do some work I had to do, and we became intimate and went out and about.

Nothing important until 1914, then war broke out. In 1915 I was then 17 years of age, my brother Ralph was 19, he and I were pals and we made up our minds to join the services and went to a recruiting station. He passed in the RFA but I failed owing to ear trouble. After about six months attention at the West London Hospital I was passed as fit. By then I was advised to join the Navy as a stoker, so I went to Whitehall and joined as a stoker on 31.5.15 and went straightaway to Chatham with other
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Page 2 photo source: Colin Budden

recruits. Had to bath, two bowls of water, standing up, then a hair cut down to scalp. Fitted out in Naval uniform, gives spares, blue uniforms, duck suits flannels, boots, socks etc. Assigned to a room in barracks, with a kit bag full of clothes. Had to practice daily, shovelling stones into a metal bin, training for future stoking a boiler, beside the usual drilling.

Lat that year I was sent with others to Newcastle where the light cruiser HMS Yarmouth was in dry dock having a refit. She had retuned from a China station. I was put in No 15 mess which as I found out later, was open to the air thankgoodness. The stairs to the upper deck were covered by tarpaulin, the after deck stairways had to be water tight and I found out when at sea those messes stank something awful.

My first job was on a platform wire scrubbing one of the two ship's propellors. Everything was iced up wintertime and that cold so it can be guessed how I felt. The ship used coal and oil, but oil was used only at full speed. So another of my jobs was cleaning out the oil tanks at the bottom of the ship. The oil was pumped out, then sea water was let in, this was then pumped out.

I was one of the stokers sent down to clean out, down with swabs and buckets, on hands and knees, passed up full buckets to be emptied. It can be imagined the state us chaps got into. This ship had three boiler room, 4 boilers in each. Another job when the boilers were not in action, was for chaps to get into the fire space and clean the tubes with a long metal flat utensil. When the refit was completed, the ship was floated, a few days to get ready for sea and leave Chatham.

The ship's company were split up in watches, us stokers in four, middle watch 12am till 4am morning from 4am till 8 am, forenoon from 8am till 12 noon, afternoon 12am till 4pm, 1st day [this should be 1st Dog Watch] 4pm-6pm. 2nd day [this should be Last Dog Watch] 6pm-8pm. First watch 8pm-12 midnight. I had the first watch in No 2 boiler room as a trimmer filling a skid with coal fro the bunker, one bunker to each boiler. Bunkers were each side of the ship. These skids must have weighed about a hundred weight or more when full, pushed or pulled to the front of the boiler, tipped back again and again, for the stoker to shovel on to the fire, 4 doors to each boiler.

Owing to the movement of the ship I felt a bit queer, but stuck to my job and was praised by the Chief stokers, which I learned was unusual and by keeping busy helped but I wasn't sorry to turn into my hammock after a batch at 12 mid. Hammocks were slung over the mess tables. But very sorry when a Chief came round calling out lash up and stow. Everything was much quieter and I found out we had reached our base in the First of Forth and taken up position in the third Light Cruiser Squadron which was Falmouth, Yarmouth, Birkenhead, Gloucester. I think there were 4 Light Cruisers and that a least one squadron was at sea, as one squad came in, another went out.
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When at sea, a fire had to be cleaned out, each watch a long poker was pushed in loosening the clinker, then pulled out by a rake. The space was then filled with fresh coal from the bunker. The clinker was then taken over to a receptacle and a pump washed it up and then went over the ships side. Returning to based a coal barge drew alongside and all bunkers were filled again. Seaman went aboard the barge and filled the sacks which were handed to the warship stokers who barrowed the coal and tipped it down the bunkers. A stoker as each manhole, he counted the sacks and they were tipped. A stoker in each upper bunkers shovelling the coal down a shoot to the lower bunker. He had an oil burning lamp, but as can be guessed the atmosphere was like an old London fog. The throat got so dry, but to drink would be disastrous. The only thing that helped was to put a piece of coal in the mouth. When all was finished, bath. Allowed 2 bowls of water, one to wash down, another to pour over and rinse. It was possible to have as many as 4 baths in 24 hours. Seaman had to wait till stokers had cleaned out. All had to wash their own clothes. I understand washing machines are installed in modern times. We were lucky to be able to dry clothes over the boilers as long as they were out of sight.

My girl friend and I continued to correspond. I also had a spell as a messenger to the Engineer Commander, being at his beck and call especially at sea. After that a spell in one of the two engine rooms. One time, in front of the gauges, an instrument to acknowledge the speed wanted, sent from the bridge and sending the same to the boiler rooms. Another spell at watch and gauge, and keeping hand on a certain number by turning a wheel. Incidentally this wheel controlled air pump which in harbour was so slow, at times one could think it stopped and one time I was cleaning the base and found I could not move my leg. I panicked but luckily I got free but had to attend sick bay. It was painful but I felt such an idiot I said I'd fallen downstairs. In time it eased.

There was an evaporator which turned sea water into fresh for the boilers. Also a dynamo which of course made electricity. I did not have to have anything to do with these except clean out the evaporator once.

Everyone started in the Royal Navy as I did, a second class stoker, in time I passed as first class.

On one patrol, the Yarmouth escorted by two destroyers a Zepperlin was sighted. One aeroplane was stationed, having to run down the platform erected on a forward gun, the airman name Robinson (?) took his plane above the Zep and shot it down. He was mentioned in dispatches.

And so to the Jutland Battle. I'll never forget the sea on the 31st May 1916. It was as calm as a mill pond, never seen it before or since. I had the afternoon watch in No 2 boiler room and about 2pm we thought we heard sounds of gunfire. Then rumours came down, we had contacted German warships at full
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speed. I should have been relieved at 4pm but had to carry on till 5pm. At such times all were in three watches, one in boiler room, another at fire stations to roll out hoses if wanted, the other to carry shells from magazine manhole to the guns. I just was able to get a quick meal, then straight to fire station till 6pm, then to shells stations. While on these duties I saw HMS Invincible blow up about a mile away. I understand only 3 men were saved and saw the remains floating for miles. I also saw men in the sea, English or Germans was unknown, but of course could not stop to save them. I had to go below for the first watch at 8pm. We did not hear much during that watch and was relieved at 12 midnight, but no one was allowed to turn in and kept on the alert all night. I then understood we, Admiral Beaty's fleet, were in action 5 or 6 hours before Jellico's fleet arrived from Scarpa Flow. I think the German Navy did come out in force in 1917, including U-boats, but the Yarmouth was having a refit, so we did not know much about it. But our Flagship the Falmouth was torpedoed by a U-boat. We usually followed her, so perhaps its as well we were in dock. In fact I think I was on leave at the time.

But back on duty, Light Cruiser and destroyers had to go on patrol periodically. On one time out, a Zepperlin was signed and our airman went up and above the airship and shot it down. The Yarmouth had just one plane on board with a platform erected on the forward gun for the plane to take off. He could not return to the ship, there was no means to retrieve the plane, so he had to go and land. He was mentioned in dispatches.

Another time a German merchant ship with guns aboard was out in the Atlantic harassing our merchant ships. So quite a number of our ships were out after it. I didn't hear if she was caught. I think there were 3 or 4 German ships thus equipped. I had news of my brother Ralph's death. He was in Italy at the time. This news thoroughly depressed me for quite a time. I believe this happened in 1917. It was also that year that Yarmouth and a destroyer were sent to Norway, taking a diplomat Bruce Lockhard with his secretary etc on their way to Russia to relieve Sir George Buchanon. We went across the North Sea to Stephenson. We then cruised up a fiord, can't remember name, till we came to a sandy beach, all lovely scenery. B Lockhard and co were rowed ashore and Sir George Buchanon with wife etc were brought back. We then made the way back to UK with no complications. After putting them ashore we returned to our station in the First of Forth till our next patrol. And so on till the end of the war, and in timeit was agreed, some German ships were to be transferred to UK so the Yarmouth put to sea with the Fleet to meet these ships and our ship lined up each side and escorted the Germans into harbour and they were ordered to obey British officers, such as lowering their flags at sunset when out buglers blew for that reason.

Once I had the chance to be taken on a trip round these ships at anchor. On one big vessel there as a band playing and the chaps were trotting to and fro round the deck with their hands on
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the shoulders of the one in front, really enjoying themselves. But soon after all of the Germans got aboard their small ships and scuttled all the heavy ships. But I believe some years later all the ships were surfaced and used for metal building etc.

Not much doing after that and as I joined for hostilities only, I was eventually discharged in 1919 and started work at J Lyons, Cadby Hall as a fitter's mate on shift work, days and nights. Mabel and I were married on June 11th 1921. Two sons Eric and Ronald were born as a result.

We lives in Chiswick for a while, then bought a house in East Acton (8.33). I left J Lyons & Co in 1928 and started work at a motor car gear cutting firm named E.N.V. During these later years I developed double hernia, varicose veins, arthritis, I still think due to tough going in the R.N. pulling loads of coal about, including the pump incident, but of course I could not prove it.

In 1947 I applied for and became a messenger at Bromyard Avenue. Then in 1950 a packer at Renault in the Western Avenue. After a while I was made a chargehand. But the arthritis became so painful my doctor put me on sick leave and after a while lost my job at Renault. I go fed up with this in time and was able to get an office job.
<br. I think in 1960 I had to have an operation, a false hip to replace the arthritis, it certainly made life more bearable. Still get a certain amount of pin but it was easier.

Well I retired in 1963, then 65. My wife passed on in June 1970, heart failure and was cremated in Ruislip.

I had trouble with my eyes and operation on both for glaucoma at Moorfields, the left eye was saved, but the right was too far gone and I cannot see much with it.

in 1977 my daughter in law living in Canada offered me a home with them and I had a pleasant time out there for ten years. During that time I contracted shingles which I still have pain from at times. I understand this lasts for years. I was lucky to be able to do jobs out there. I erected a strong bench in their basement and I had quite a few tools. Well it was arranged I should come back to England and live with my other son and family in 1988 January.

Of course there were many other incident that happened while in the R.N. but I've tried to quote things I've thought of interest.
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Charles Budden – Letter follow on from his initial letter about joining the Navy.

I’ve been prompted to write more. Well there are a few items
of interest I can recall an aunt, going on holiday to her
childhood home in Dorset, very kindly included me with her
family.
I was about 8 or 9, she and her boys stayed in Bridport, but I
was taken to a village not so far, & stayed with an uncle, my
father’s brother in fact and his family for 2 weeks, of course I
thoroughly enjoyed it. The name of the village was Lower
Loders?
and they ran a small provision cum post office. A
sister of his wife lived nearby, she used to repair fishing nets
& lived by herself, quite old, in her seventies I think. My
uncle was a licensed slaughterer & now and again I was taken
with one of his boys on one of these outings by horse and cart.
No cars in those days.
I can’t say I enjoyed seeing the animals killed.
Sometimes I was given something to eat and home made
cyder to drink. I managed to get rid of it.
I also had a trip to an auction & some of the animals were
bought, my cousin of course was quite used to it. I remember,
while they were attending to some, I was given the job of
holding a calf. I think I was supposed to grab its tail & ear but
as you can guess it got away and careered up the garden. Well
they caught & controlled it eventually, thank goodness I didn’t
have that job again.
They had an orchard, & I had loads of apples to eat, these
were sold in the shop.
I can also recall the sinking of the Titanic, can’t remember
how, as there was no phones, radios or such at that time, but it
created such talk everywhere.
Back to my Navy life, we had the usual quota of officers,
Engineer Commander, Senior Engineer & two Warrant
officers. The Senior Engineer, I recall, I never saw him sober,
his name was Bond, he got booze from somewhere I
remember the time we were cleaning out the oil tanks, he
came down to have a look, he was in his uniform, including a
white shirt. When he got out he suggested that us chaps would
be best dressed in shorts, just fancy 2 or 3 hours in that
atmosphere, We were dressed in our usual working garb, a
flannel shirt and trousers made of blanket material to soak up
sweat, they were called Fearnoughts, not surprising this
officer was replaced.
When we went into dry dock, the ships Company were
transferred to barracks, so many ratings were left on as case &
maintenance, a few of each seamen stoker’s, marines and so
was one of the stokers. During this time we were allowed to
invite relatives & friend. I had my mother & girlfriend aboard
& showed them round the ship, they were somewhat out of
their element, but they were very interested. Us fellows
clubbed round & provided a good meal for all their friends &
mine.
We were in Chatham Dockyard at that time. I never was
keen on nights out but at one time, no-one about I plucked up
the courage & climbed the foremast to a lookout halfway. I
was so pleased I followed that chap’s advice and joined as a
stoker, there was a lookout further up called the crow’s nest, I
could have never got there.
Of course, all the ships had to visit the dockyard periodically,
I think about 8 or 9 months.
So that leave could be given, Ship’s Companies were divided
into 4, so 1st, 2nd Port & 1st, 2nd Starboard. I was in the 2nd Post[this could be Port]
Division, usually half the ships Co, were given at one time
can one leave, my mother had moved to a Flat over a shop in
Notting Hill. I was in bed late one night, she came & woke
me. A Zeppelin was about, I must say it wasn’t out of bravado
or such but I slept on, I thought if anything has your name on
it you’ve had it. I go back to when I saw the Invincible blow
up, I think these was only 3 ratings saved out of, I think three?
I cant remember how many, but she was a big battleship.
Anyhow I heard no more.
My favourite two came with me, the end of that leave to
Kings Cross to catch the special train laid on for our ships
ratings. There wasn’t much room, chaps laid about all over so
I climbed up on luggage rack & slept all the way to
Edinburgh. The ship was anchored in the Firth of Forth as
one time I understood the powers that be replaced the plates &
basins used in all of the ships, with enamel ware, as there was
so many breakages when at sea, these were only issued to
lower deck ratings of course. But the lads kicked up such a
row, saying things were like a workhouse, that it was decided
to go back to chinaware. But – I have always been a slow
eater & chaps waiting for my plate, I sent away for an enamel
plate & mug, which I thought sensible in such circumstances.
All ratings had the chance of a daily tot of Rum, or in lieu 3/4
shilling . I was not a drinker, so I chose the cash 2/6 per
month. Some of the chaps almost lived for it. I remember one
chap saved his ration daily for special occasion birthday or
whatever, came the day, marines had to be called for to take
him to the cells to calm him down, the rum was the one part
rum & three parts water, issues from a barrel on the upper
deck weather permitting. A very rating was involved below
the rank of petty officer, when the bosun went round the upper
deck blowing his whistle and singing out, Clear lower deck,
up steam pinnace, all had to go up and man the falls, I get
hold of a rope round the deck and at the command haul away,
all had to pull this rope which was attached to the steam
pinnace, a boat which was propelled by steam again when in harbour.

When the 2nd War started, I was working at the E.N.V. turning
out gears, so we had to start making gears for war. We were
then living at East Acton & then had to prepare for bombs, I
had to dig a hole in the garden, and were given metal covers
to cover same. These were covered with earth. My younger
son Ronald was evacuated to a place near Weymouth
“Chickerell”
. At one time local people organised a coach trip
to Weymouth so the wife went by coach and my elder son
Eric & I went by bicycle, before his calling up age he went in
the army later. We were treated very well. When the war was
over, Ron was taken on as a paid worker he was fond of
animals, he used to harness the horse, who used to lower his
head so that his collar could be put on. But after a while he
was home sick & came back home.
When we were first married, we lived with my mother in a
three storied house on the top floor. In the middle flat lived an
old chap with poor eyesight but he got me interested in
woodwork. After a while, we got a flat in Chiswick & I made
a shed in the garden & believe I/we made quite a lot of
woodwork in my time, found a 2nd hand wood yard, mostly
mahogany, I used to tie it on my bike and walked it home
from Shepherds Bush to home. I made our bed, a wardrobe,
made about six china cabinets for different people. I must
have made about nine doll houses, also wheelbarrows for
kids. I also made a pedal motor car for Eric & being on shift
work I used to take him to the park for an hour, before I went
to bed when I was on night work. I made an engine for
Ronald, he used to sit and push with his feet


  1. HMS Yarmouth Crew List (Photographs)
  2. HMS Yarmouth Crew List (updated in Real-time)