Ashantee 1873-4, Charles Withers, Royal Navy, HMS Bittern 73-74, with copy service papers.
Officially engraved: “C. Withers, Ord. H.M.S. Bittern 73-74”
Petty Officer Charles George Withers was born on 10th July 1854 in St Pancras, Middlesex, London.
Aged about 16 he signed up as a Boy 2nd Class in the Royal Navy.
Joined HMS Druid on 11th October 1870.
Promoted Boy 1st Class on Druid, 6th November 1871.
He re-attested for service exactly on his 18th Birthday, 10th July 1872 for 10 years as a Man.
Served now as an Ordinary Seaman on HMS Druid from 1st January 1873 until 26th May 1873.
Then served on HMS Bittern from 27th May 1873 until 17th November 1873, earning this medal for the war.
HMS Simoon, 18th November 1873 to 6th February 1874.
He moved round a few ships before setting off on a world wide sail with the Flying Squadron.
He joined HMS Newcastle on 22nd September 1874, serving on board until 19th May 1877, said to have been Exemplary during this period.
The Newcastle was under command of Robert Gordon Douglas, taking part in a new idea, the Detached “Flying Squadrons”. A money saving venture began in 1868, instead of stationed ships around the world, they would instead send a squadron of 6 ships on a big journey to check in on certain regions.
Withers was in for a big journey:
Gibraltar (.. Oct 1874) – Madeira (.. – 21 Oct) – St Vincent – Montevideo – Falkland Islands (30 Jan – … 1875) – Cape of Good Hope (3 Apr – …) – St Helena (… – 14 Apr) – Ascension – St Vincent (23 – … May) – Gibraltar (20 Jun – 15 Jul) – Cape of Good Hope – Bombay (22 Oct – …; escorting visit to India by the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII) – Colombo – Trincomalee – Calcutta – Bombay (14 Feb 1876) – Singapore (31 Oct) – Hong Kong (7 Apr – … 1876; tension with China) – Shanghai – Amoy – Japan – Chefoo – Talien – Hong Kong (…Nov – 5 Dec) – Singapore (… – 27 Dec) – Mauritius – Cape of Good Hope – St Helena – Ascension (… – 1 Apr) – St Vincent (15 – 19 Apr) – Plymouth (11 May 1877).
Notably they stopped off at Hong Kong in 1876, during the nearby tensions with China, to back up Thomas F. Wade, the British Minister in China, who had persuaded the Chinese to sign the Che-fu Convention in September 1876, allowing several additional ports to be opened to foreign trade after tension on the Yunnan-Burmese Border following the British Interpreter.
After arriving back, he later spent 2years on HMS Minotaur from 24t August until 23rd December 1881, during which time he was promoted to Leading Seaman.
He rejoined Minotaur on 4th April 1882, becoming Petty Officer 2nd Class onboard, serving until 31st May 1882.
He was son after discharged as Petty Officer 2nd Class at HMS Duke of Wellington on 10th July 1882, his 10 year terms of service having expired.
Shown on the 1891 Census, living back in London, at 8 Beaconsfield Buildings in Islington.
With his wife Alice (Born 1862 in Portsmouth), he was working as a Clothing Packer with 2 children.
Also on the 1901 Census in Islington.