Charles was born and brought up in Springfield. He married in 1898 and had a daughter who died in childhood. In 1899 he began to work at Hoffmann's bearings factory when it opened in Chelmsford. He remained with firm until 1940. In May 1941 he was fatally injured when a bomb aimed at Marconi's factory went astray and demolished his house in neighbouring Marconi Road.
Charles Ernest Ray was born in 1874 in Springfield.
In 1881 the census found six year-old Charles living with his paternal grandmother, a widow, in Springfield Road, Springfield.
Charles married Finchingfield-born Martha Wilks in 1898. The couple had a daughter, Winifred Ethel Ray, born in Springfield in 1899.
The 1901 recorded Charles, his wife and daughter living in Springfield Road, Springfield. 26 year-old Charles was a general labourer. His daughter died five years later from a severe attack of diptheria at Galleywood Hospital after a six week illness.
In 1911 the census found Charles and his wife at 3 Marriages Square, off New Street in Chelmsford. He was a yard foreman at Hoffmann's ball-bearings factory in Chelmsford.
Charles was fatally injured on 9th May 1941 when a bomb from a lone German aircraft intended for the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. Ltd. factory in New Street, Chelmsford went astray and struck his home, 70 Marconi Road, one of a terrace of six houses.
Charles and his wife had been asleep in a downstairs room when the bomb had struck and were buried under tons of debris. Both were eventually rescued alive, but Charles was to die as a result of his injuries in hospital twelve days later. He was 66. A neighbour, Hannah Whybrow, was killed next door at 72 Marconi Road.
Charles Ernest RAY, Civilian
Killed during an air raid at Marconi Road, Chelmsford. Aged 66
The bomb demolished three properties in Marconi Road (nos. 70, 72 & 74) and two others were believed damaged beyond repair (nos. 76 & 78). The sixth house in the terrace, no. 80, was seriously damaged as were five others (nos. 62, 64, 66, 68 & 82).
The other three bombs which were dropped scored direct hits on Marconi’s works, leading to the deaths of 17 people.
Charles had retired from Hoffmann’s just six months prior to his death, having held the record for the longest service with the company - he had worked there since its opening in 1899.
Charles' funeral service was held at All Saints’ Church with burial on 29th May 1941 at Chelmsford Borough Cemetery (grave: 6273). The service was conducted by the Rev. D. Ford. By then Charles's wife had been rehoused at 69 King's Road in Chelmsford. She had escaped with a broken arm and other injuries but was to die within a couple of years and was buried in her husband's grave on 1st March 1943.
Charles is one of the few civilians killed in Chelmsford who is not commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.