Since a very early age I have been curious to discover more about my paternal grandfather, Charles Gustavus Carlson. My three other grandparents all lived long enough for me to know them well but Charles was killed on active service with the Royal Navy in 1939, when even my father was very young.
My grandmother would never talk about Charles or how he died, so for many years all that I knew was that he was killed in World War 2 when his ship, a minelayer, itself hit a mine.
posted to Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, Charles
married my grandmother, Kathleen Bickford Smith on 26 Dec 1928 at St
John’s R.C. Chapel, Dartmouth. |
This photograph was taken at about the time of his wedding
Charles was serving in the Cruiser Minelayer H.M.S. Adventure which had been brought out of reserve on 21 July 1939, Charles having come out of reserve and joined the ship on that day. After laying mines in the Dover Straight and the North Sea, H.M.S. Adventure was in the Thames Estuary on 13th November 1939 escorted by the destroyers H.M.S. Blanche and H.M.S. Basilisk. There she was damaged by an underwater explosion at 05:27 – almost certainly the result of activating a magnetic mine which had been laid by one of four German destroyers only hours previously. Charles was listed as one of 23 casualties of the explosion. H.M.S. Blanche was also mined at 08:10 with the loss of one life and later sank while under tow. Later the same day the merchant ships S.S. Ponzano and S.S. Matra were also mined in the same area.