Row, row, row your boat

I was attracted to this photo firstly by the insignia on the gent’s blazer, and then by the inscription on the back of the card – more specifically the nomenclature of Mr C H Younghusband. I am making the assumption that the photo is of Mr C H Younghusband, but at the moment I have no definitive proof of that.

Charles Holdenby Younghusband was born in 1894 in Aston, Birmingham to Charles Henry and Emma Younghusband (nee Wilkins). The couple had married in All Saints Church, Hockley on 12th March 1889. Charles gave his profession as a Commission Agent – someone who conducts business on behalf of others for a commission or percentage of the deal. Both Charles and Emma gave their residence as 20 Lodge Street, which is where they are in the 1891 census. On the 1891 census, Charles is listed as still being an Agent, whilst Emma is a shopkeeper (drapers).

Charles and Emma only had one child who survived to adulthood – Charles Holdenby Younghusband. Charles senior died in 1897, and by the time of the 1901 census Emma had moved her small family to 39 Barker Street, Lozells. Living with Emma and her son Charles, is Emma’s mother Elizabeth – perhaps the Grandma mentioned on the reverse of the photo?

On the 1911 census, Emma and Charles are living with Emma’s niece and nephews. We can see that Charles is an apprentice electrical engineer working for the General Electric Company, probably at their Witton base.

Not so very many years later, WW1 began. Charles was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the 2/8th Worcester Regiment on 31st December 1915. From then, he saw active service on the Western Front. He received a promotion to Lieutenant, and also received a Military Cross on 26th July 1918:

for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty with his platoon in a counter attack and in handling his men with great skill when cut off and regaining touch with other troops. He showed great resource and decision and set a fine example of courage to all his men.

His mother, Emma, lived to see him survive WW1 and to receive his honour, dying on 2nd November 1918.

After the war, Charles returned to work for the General Electric Company. The final records that I can find for him are ships manifests showing sailings from Burma back to England (1921) and then from England to Singapore (1922). In May 1933 Charles travels from Durban to London, returning in August 1933. On that final manifest, Charles states his country of future permanent residence as being South Africa.

6 thoughts on “Row, row, row your boat

  1. I have reason to believe I am related to this person, my grandmother’s father. We knew very little about him until a web search found your amazing article. If I do have the right person I believe that his wife sadly returned to England from S.Africa without him. I am keen to find out more.


  2. Hi Gareth,

    How lovely to hear from you! I’m afraid that I don’t have any more information to hand, but I am happy to do a bit of research and see if I can come up with anything else.


  3. Hi Gareth,

    I have had another look, but I can’t at the moment see any record of Charles coming back to the UK after 1933. I have found a second marriage for him – on the 18th December 1936, he married Kathleen Gertrude Greenwood in Johannesburg. At the time of marriage, he states that his place of residence is Durban.

    I’m sorry that I haven’t got more information for you – he does seem very elusive!


  4. With regard to Charles Henry Younghusband (Charles Holdenby Younghusband’s father), I suspect that he is the one who’s birth is registered in March qtr 1843, in Newark (record ref 15, 538). In which case, according to the 1851 census, an 8 year old Charles H Younghusband is living with his family in the parish of St Mary le Wigford, Lincoln. His parents are George (aged 52) and Caroline (aged 49). Hope that helps!


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