Charles William Beer AM

b. 27/03/1863 Essex, England.  d. 25/12/1914 Peterhead, Scotland.

DATE OF AM ACTION: 21-22/10/1904 North Sea.

Little is known about the life of Charles Beer, who was a Mate on the steam trawler “Gull”. He had hailed from Essex, and from an early life went to sea as a career. He moved north to Hull, where he lived with his wife Clara. He received his medal from King Edward VII at Buckingham Palace on 13th May 1905. He was one of the first awards to civilians to carry the new wide ribbon for the Second Class medals. Charles was aboard the Royal Naval Reserve trawler “Raven” when an accident occurred in Peterhead harbour on Christmas Day 1914. He and another man drowned and they were buried in Peterhead Old Churchyard, and their names were placed on memorial wall in the churchyard. 



The steam trawler ” Crane” was so badly damaged by the gun fire of the Russian Baltic Fleet in the North Sea on the night of the 21st October and the morning of the 22nd October last, that she began to sink. The skipper and the third hand of the vessel had been killed, and, with one exception, the surviving members of the crew were all wounded. The mate, William Smith, was severely wounded while on his way to assist the injured boatswain, and when he found that the skipper was killed, took charge of the sinking vessel. He subsequently signalled for assistance, and when the boat from the steam trawler ” Gull ” arrived he assisted in getting the wounded and the bodies of the dead into the boat, and was the last to leave the ” Crane ” just before she sank. As the Chief Engineer had been wounded and rendered insensible soon after the firing began, the Second Engineer, Arthur Rea (22 years of age), took charge of the engines, and, although the lights had been extinguished, he went into the stokehold to discover the cause of a loud report and an escape of steam. He was knocked down by a shot on his way but went on, and finding the stokehold more than a foot deep in water and steam blowing from the engine side, looked at the gauge glass and pumping additional cold water into the boiler partially drew the fires with the object of averting an explosion. He also set the pumps of the vessel working, and after reporting that the vessel was sinking, went a second time into the darkened engin room and stopped the engines. Although wounded he did not stop working till he left the ship. In answer to signals of distress from the ” Crane,” Charles Beer, Mate, Harry Smirk, Chief Engineer, and Edwin CostelJo, Boatswain, of the steam trawler “Gull,” after the firing, which had been heavy and sustained, went in a boat to the ” Crane,” and succeeded with great difficulty in rescuing the wounded from the rapidly sinking vessel, and in bringing away the dead bodies of those who had been killed.