war memorial at dusk, photographed by Michelle Cooper




Charlie Freeman

Charles Freeman was one of over 250 people lost off St Abbs Head, Berwickshire, when HMS Pathfinder became the first ship torpedoed and sunk by a submarine. The torpedo struck a magazine, which exploded. The ship was lost within minutes; only eleven of her crew survived.

Amethyst postcard front

Amethyst postcard back

Charles sent the postcard above of HMS Amethyst  to his father at 4 Lea Cottages. The postmark is, we believe, for Sheerness in September 9th 1913. The card reads:

"Dear Dad, I just right to tell you I am getting on alright. I writ to mother last week. I think we are going to Scotland today.  I expect mother has gone hopping. I hope she has fine weather." In the top left-hand corner the card is signed "Charlie XXXXXX"

HMS Pathfinder was well-known to Dovorians; she had been in Dover for some time just prior to the war, and as a Chatham ship carried several Dover and other local men amongst her crew.

Dover Express

War envelope

Left, part of a local newspaper report of the sinking, with list of casualties from Dover. Charlie's name is amongst them. Above and below right are the death plaque and its envelope received by Charlie's parents.

Dover Express


 dead man's penny

Charlie's parents also received his medals, with boxes, and scrolls from the Admiralty and King George. 


boxes and papers

Alice Davidson sent the postcard below of HMS Pathfinder to Mrs Freeman on 15 August 1916, from Dover. She wrote, "I thought you might like this postcard, as it is your poor boy's ship. Hoping you are quite well."

pathfinder postcard back

pathfinder postcard front

The caption on the picture reads, "HMS Pathfinder. Light Cruiser, 2940 tons, speed 25 knots, armed with nine 4" guns. Sunk in the North Sea on Saturday, September 5th, 1914, in consequence of striking a mine."

In Loving Memory of our dear son
Charles William Christopher Freeman
who was killed in action on HMS "Pathfinder", aged 22 years
September 5th 1914.
"Gone but not Forgotten"

In Memoriam certificate

A sudden change, I in a moment fell.
I had no time to bid my friends farewell.
Think nothing strange, death comes to all,
I today, tomorrow you may fall.
Forbear, dear friends, to mourn and weep
Whilst sweetly in the sea I sleep,
This toilsome world I've left behind,
A glorious crown I hope to find.

Loved by All

For his Country's sake

with grateful thanks to Christopher Freeman
all images are courtesy Christopher Freeman

Copyright 2009 Marilyn Stephenson-Knight. All Rights Reserved