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Dockyard Characters19th August 2023

101st Birthday visit for Charles

Elderly gentleman sits next to sign that reads Cavalier.

Charles Giles celebrated his 101st birthday at the end of July. As a special celebration, his care home in Spalding arranged for him to visit The Historic Dockyard Chatham and, more specifically, HMS CAVALIER.

As a Royal Navy veteran, Charles served on Chatham-based destroyers during the Second World War. It was of particular importance for Charles to visit HMS CAVALIER, as the only remaining C-Class destroyer to have been reserved.

Charles first applied to join up to the Royal Navy in 1939 after the outbreak of war but was turned down since he was working as an engineer, a reserved occupation. He later reapplied successfully. After training in Pwllheli, he was sent to Chatham Dockyard before being transferred to the Tyne to serve as a Navigator Yeoman.

During the War, Charles was involved in the Dieppe Raid or Operation Jubilee that was a combined attack alongside the Canadians. He was at the D-Day landings before being sent to the Japanese Campaign at the end of the War. Charles then travelled back to Chatham Dockyard, via Penang and Madras, where he bid his final farewell to the Royal Navy.

Whilst on his visit to The Historic Dockyard Chatham, Charles boarded HMS CAVALIER midships. He recalled many of the features still visible, the 40mm Bofor’s Gun, the aft 4.5” Mark IV gun, the galley, heads and bathrooms, and the radio room. His greatest pleasure was making his way to the Forward Seamen’s Mess and reminiscing about his life in a similar mess – the shared hammocks and the rum barrel, in particular.

It was an honour for The Historic Dockyard Chatham to welcome Charles back and be able to share his pleasure at reliving his memories and experiences.

From all of us here at The Historic Dockyard Chatham, many happy returns Charles on your 101st birthday.

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