Ronald Hugh Charlton was born and raised in Chelmsford, the son of a turner who worked for over 30 years at Hoffmann's. He was educated at King's Road School and worked at Bond's department store in Chelmsford's High Street. He served in the Royal Navy and after surviving two sinkings was killed when his ship was torpedoed in the Atlantic in May 1941. His home was in Eastern Avenue.
Ronald was born in Chelmsford in 1922, the younger son of Reginald Hugh Charlton (1895-1947) and Alice Charlton (nee Baldwin) (born in 1891), Ronald's parents had married at Chelmsford Cathedral on Valentine's Day 1920. At that time Ronald's father, a First World War veteran with the Tank Corps, was a 24 year-old turner, living at 26 Nelson Road in Chelmsford; his mother was 28 years old and lived at Brambles in Springfield where she was a servant for the draper Stanley Ling Bolingbroke.
Ronald's siblings included Geoffrey M. Charlton (1920-1973) and Kathleen Mary Charlton (1925-1993).
Ronald was educated at King’s Road School in Chelmsford and was member of the North Avenue Boy Scouts. After leaving school he was an apprentice at the Chelmsford High Street department store Messrs Bond's.
During the Second World War Ronald served with the Royal Navy as Ordinary Signalman C/JX 194111 and was trained at Shotley in Suffolk. On 13th May 1941 he survived the torpedoing of his ship, the 10,549 ton armed merchant cruiser S.S. Salopian, having previously been on board another ship sunk by a mine.
Ronald Hugh CHARLTON, Ordinary Signalman, H.No.M.S. Bath
Killed at Sea when his ship was torpedoed. Aged 19
On 19th August 1941 Ronald's luck ran out and he was killed when his ship, H.M.S. Bath, was torpedoed by the German submarine U-204 about 400 miles south-west of Ireland whilst escorting the Gibraltar-bound convoy OG-71. He was 19 years' old and one of 83 men who lost their lives in the incident. The vessel was the former U.S.S. Hopewell, which had been transferred to the Royal Navy in September 1940 as part of the Lend-Lease scheme and renamed. In early 1941 H.M.S. Bath had been transferred to the exiled Norwegian Navy, whom Ronald had joined after volunteering for special service.
At the time of his death Ronald's parents were living at 8 Eastern Crescent in Chelmsford, while his brother was serving with the R.A.F.
Ronald is commemorated by the Chatham Naval Memorial in Kent.
His father died in 1947 having worked as a turner at Hoffmann's bearings factory in Chelmsford for 30 years before moving to Lake and Elliot's in Braintree.