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Flight Lieutenant, Royal Naval Air Service.

Killed in an accident 23rd February 1918, age 25.

Buried at Eastchurch (All Saints) Churchyard, Isle of Sheppey, Kent, UK.

Former student of geology.


 

Charles, more commonly known as Murray, was born on 24th March 1892 at Coleford, Glouestershire. He was educated at Monmoth Grammar School and entered Hulme Hall in 1910. He spent his first year studying a foundation course in preparation for starting a degree. He had a reputation for originality of thought and a never-failing sense of humour. His fascination with geology and astronomy was a constant source of inspiration to him and he contributed to several journals and wrote a book on pre-historic animals which he hoped to publish. Unfortunately, he struggled academically and left Manchester University in 1912.

At the outbreak of war Murray volunteered with the Royal Navy and was appointed as a wireless operator on board HMS Revenge. In October 1914 he saw action off the coast of Belgium. In January 1915 he was transferred to a minesweeper patrolling the North Sea. Although the work was monotonous it was reported that he still managed to derive amusement from it. In June 1915 he was commissioned to the Royal Naval Air Service to train as a pilot. He gained his licence at the end of July and had a number of accidents during his career, including one due to engine failure in France which caused his plane to crash and resulted in a broken jaw. The Hulme Hall Chronicle obituary for him noted that he was not dismayed by his accidents and relished the opportunity it gave to write vivid accounts of the sensations of crashing to earth. He spent 6 months recovering from his broken jaw and married Olive Simpson in March 1916.

Once declared fit again Murray became an instructor, but he soon tired of the role and resumed full duties. He was part of an escort flight assigned to protect an airship when, on 23rd February 1918, he was involved in a mid-air collision with another aircraft which cost the lives of all 4 crew involved.

Olive shared her husband’s sense of adventure and went on to become a famous explorer in the 1930s and publisher of a number of books on which she changed her middle name from Mary to Murray in his honour. With the support of family she also ensured that Dragons at Home, the book Murray had spent so much time writing and illustrating about four children who travelled to the past and were aided by a pterodactyl, was published.