Charles William Bushnell was born on 17 October 1901, his birth being registered in the 4th quarter of 1901 in the Lewisham registration district. He was baptised on 23 October 1901 at St Mary's Church, Lewisham where the baptismal register shows his mother was called Annie Bushnell and whose address was recorded as Lewisham Infirmary. There was no mention as to who was his father or to his father's occupation. His mother had been admitted on 8 October 1901 to the Lewisham High Street Workhouse and the registers show that she was a pregnant able-bodied dressmaker from the Lewisham parish who was discharged to the Lewisham Infirmary on 16 October 1901.
On 5 March 1917 he enlisted as a Boy Class 2 in the Royal Navy, service number P/J68022, confirming his date and place of birth and giving his occupation as a porter. He was attached to HMS Powerful, a Boys Training Ship based at Devonport, Devon, until 16 June 1917 when he was transferred to HMS Impregnable another training ship in Devonport. It was while he was here that he was promoted to Boy Class 1 on 1 September 1917. Having served on a number of ships, including HMS Lord Nelson & HMS Agamemnon, on his 18th birthday, 17 October 1919, he signed on for 12 years and was rated as an ordinary seaman. He was promoted to Able Seaman on 1 January 1921.
In the 2nd quarter of 1921 he married Dorothy Agnes Batten (b.12 January 1899) in the Paddington registration district and they had two children: Charles William Bushnell (1922-1992) and Edna Grace Bushnell (1927-1985).
His 12 years of service ended on 17 October 1931 when he was transferred to the Royal Navy's Royal Fleet Reserve. He and his wife were listed in electoral registers from 1929 to 1936 at 62 Gaisford Street, London, NW5 and U.K. Postal Service Appointment Books confirm that in December 1934 he was engaged as a postman in the London Postal Service.
On 25 August 1939 he was again mobilised in the Royal Navy and on 20 April 1940 he was posted to HMS Mona's Isle. He died, aged 38 years, on 28 May 1940 when his ship was attacked by a number of German fighter aeroplanes off the shore of Gravelines, France, whilst returning with 1,420 men of the British Expeditionary Force they had picked up from Dunkirk, France, as part of Operation Dynamo. His body was buried in Row B, Joint Grave 11, in the Dover (St James's) Cemetery, Old Charlton Road, Dover, CT16 2QQ.
Probate records show that he had lived at 9 Dunollie Place, Kentish Town, NW5 and that when administration was granted to his widow on 2 August 1940 his effects totalled £223-0s-0d.
He is also commemorated on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's website and on page 41 of the Post Office Fellowship of Remembrance, Book of Remembrance 1939-1949).
Credit for this entry to: Andrew Behan.