b. 29/03/1881 Fraserburgh, Scotland, d. 19/11/1948 Dundee, Scotland.
Charles Alfred Jarvis (1881-1948) was born at Admiralty Buildings, Saltoun Place, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, on 29th March 1881. His father, also Charles Alfred Jarvis, originally hailed from Plymouth, ran the Westhaven Coastguard Station and was awarded the Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal for saving two boys at North Berwick on 27th July 1889. His mother was Mary Jane nee Byth, a domestic servant. When Charles was young, the family moved to Rattray Coastguard Station, and he went to school at Crimond. He had four younger sisters and a brother. Charles then attended Carnoustie School, and two of his uncles served as shipwrights in the Royal Navy.
Charles became an apprentice plumber in Carnoustie until he enlisted in the Black Watch in November 1899. Having served in Singapore he transferred to the Reserve in March 1907, finding employment as a telegraphist in London. He was then living at Woodford, Essex, when the Great War broke out in 1914. He was then recalled from the Reserve to serve in the Royal Engineers, and landed in France with his unit on 16th August 1914.
A week later on 23rd August 1914, at 7.15am, Lieutenant Boulnois was given eight men, a cart load of explosives and one exploder to deal with the five bridges from Jemappes Station to Mariette. Boulnois allotted men to each bridge as they passed and arranged to return to set off all charges with the one available exploder. The Lock 2 Bridge near Jemappes was allotted to Lance Corporal Charles Jarvis and Sapper Neary. Jarvis enlisted the help of two men from the B Company. 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers defending the bridge. Using a small boat, which the infantrymen held in position, the two sappers fixed 22 gun cotton slabs to the three main girder supports. As they worked, the enemy fire intensified and Jarvis sent the infantrymen back into cover. He then sent Neary to find Corporal Wiltshire whom he thought had the exploder at the Jemappes station bridge. Although under heavy fire, Jarvis completed the work alone, making occasional dashes back to the infantry barricade to fetch extra explosives and run out the leads. Jarvis then kept himself down in the boat pulling himself along the bank, and then crawled over it to safety.
Jarvis was gazetted for the Victoria Cross on 16th November 1914, and having been wounded in October, heard of the news whilst recuperating in hospital. Thereafter, he was employed training recruits. The Victoria Cross was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 13th January 1915. In early 1916, he was one of a number of technically skilled men asked to undertake munitions work in Fraserburgh. He accepted the job, but was discharged in December 1916 by his works manager. In November 1917 he would have qualified for a pension for 18 years’ service and he was bitter about his service being cut short.
After the Great War, he owned a fishing tackle shop in Hannover Street, Portsmouth and was later employed in the Portsmouth Admiralty Dockyard. He married Janet Grace Bowden nee Black, a widow of a man from the Royal Highland Fusiliers in Basingstoke in 1940. They did not have any children. In the Second World War, he served in the dockyard LDV and Air Raid Precautions and also worked in the aircraft factory. He returned to Scotland when his health began to fail in 1943 and lived in Fife. He died in Dundee Royal Infirmary on 19th November 1948. He was buried in Cupar Cemetery. In addition to his VC, he was awarded the 1914 Star with Mons clasp, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oak leaf and the George VI Coronation Medal of 1937. His VC is held by the Birmingham Museums Collection Centre in Dollman Street.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: BIRMINGHAM RESOURCE CENTRE , BIRMINGHAM.
BURIAL PLACE: CUPAR CEMETERY, CUPAR, FIFE, SCOTLAND. LAIR G, GRAVE 176.
Birmingham Resource Centre – Images of the Jarvis VC Medal Group.
Thomas Stewart – Images of the Fraserburgh Heritage Centre Display, the VC Stone at Carnoustie Golf Club, and the plaque at Carnoustie War Memorial.
Mark Sanders – Jarvis VC Medal Card.