b. 30/06/1870 Southsea, Hampshire. d. 04/01/1923 Dover, Kent.
DATE OF AM ACTION: 30/08/1906 Ferozepore, India.
Charles was the son of Richard Henry and Sarah Selina Persse Donovan (nee Creaghe). He was educated at the Royal Military Academy Woolwich and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant Royal Artillery on 14th February 1890. On 3rd December 1899 he married Mabel Jennings in Hampstead, London. They had no children. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1917, and DDOS Northern Command (India) from 1918-19. He retired from the Army in June 1920, and following his first wife’s death he married Alice Edith Keeble in 1921, just two years before his death.
On the 30th August, 1906. a fire broke out in one of the Magazines of the Ferozepore Arsenal comprising 5 cells, in which were stored cordite, small arms’ ammunition and gunpowder. At an early stage the ends of one of the outer cells (No. 10) were blown out by an explosion of cordite, while from cell No. 9, where small arms’ ammunition was stored, smoke was seen to be issuing. Major-General Anderson, who directed the subsequent operations from a roof at the edge of the Magazine Compound, at a distance of some 20 yards, having ordered all persons to be cleared out of the fort, and placed a cordon round it at 1,000 yards distance, a steam fire engine was got to work, and the fire party which had been organized commenced their highly dangerous task of clearing cell No. 8, in which was stored some 19,000 Ibs. of gunpowder; they eventually succeeded in so doing, thereby cutting off the fire by the intervention of an empty cell. Had the powder in this cell exploded, the explosion must have been communicated to cells in an adjoining magazine, where 300,000 Ibs. of gunpowder were stored. Captain Donovan volunteered to clear cell No. 8, and led the fire party, and all concerned acted with the greatest coolness in circumstances calling for a high degree of courage. The door of the cell was opened and the fire hose turned on. Major Campbell joined the party by the cell, and returned in a short while and reported to General Anderson that though the cell was full of smoke, and the barrels hot, there was .no actual fire in the cell. As, however, the explosions in the ruined cell No. 10 Avere becoming more violent, General Anderson, fearing that the barrels of powder which were being removed from cell No. 8 would be ignited, ordered the discontinuance of efforts to clear the cell; the pumping engine was, however, kept at work by Mr, POW. and gome. A series of heavy explosions of cordite now took place, and on the occurrence of a lull Captain Clarke went to reconnoitre, and reported that cell No. 9 was still apparently intact. Major Campbell and Mr. Pargiter subsequently went into the enclosure to investigate, and on their report being received a party including 50 lascars was organized, and the removal of the powder barrels in cell No. 8 was recommenced under cover of the fire hose. During their removal the last important explosion of cordite took place some 12 yards away. Eventually all the barrels were removed without accident.
BURIAL LOCATION: CHARLTON CEMETERY, KENT.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: UNKNOWN.