Tuesday 28 September 2021

Charles Dennis Fisher (1877 – 1916) - British Academic

Charles in WW1
Charles Dennis Fisher was born on 19th June 1877 in Blatchington Court, Blatchington, Sussex, UK. He was baptised in East Blatchington on 4th August 1877.  Charles was the ninth of eleven children born to Herbert William Fisher (1826–1903) and his wife Mary Louisa (née Jackson) (1841–1916). 

Some of his siblings were: H. A. L. Fisher, historian and Minister of Education; Admiral Sir William Wordsworth Fisher, Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet; Florence Henrietta, Lady Darwin, playwright and wife of Sir Francis Darwin (son of Charles Darwin); and Adeline Vaughan Williams, wife of English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. He was also the brother of Cordelia Curle (née Fisher), who was the wife of the author, critic and journalist Richard Curle and the mother of the academic Adam Curle. 

Educated at Westminster School, Charles went on to Christ Church, Oxford in 1896, where he gained his B.A. in 1900 and his M.A. in 1903.  He then Senior Censor at Christ Church from 1910 to 1914.

NOTE The Senior Censor is responsible for academic matters, including requests for course changes or suspension of studies, general concerns and complaints about academic work which cannot be resolved by your Tutor, and academic discipline.

When war broke out in 1914, Charles learnt to drive a vehicle before joining the Royal Army Medical Corps Motor Ambulance.  He served on the Western Front as an orderly and interpreter, distinguishing himself for bravery under fire.

Following a training period, Charles joined the Royal Navy in August 1915 becoming a Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. He was serving aboard HMS "Invincible", the flagship of the 3rd Battlecruiser Squadron during the Battle of Jutland, when she was sunk on 31st May 1916 with the loss of 1,026 lives.

HMS "Invincible" explosion
Naval History. United States Naval Institute. 

Charles is remembered on the Roll of Honour at Christ Church College, Oxford.

Robert Bridges, Britain's Poet Laureate during WW1, dedicated the following verse to Fisher following his death:

Over the warring waters, beneath the wandering skies

The heart of Britain roameth, the Chivalry of the sea,

Where Spring never bringeth a flower, nor bird singeth in a tree;

Far, afar, O beloved, beyond the sight of our eyes,

Over the warring waters, beneath the stormy skies.

Staunch and valiant-hearted, to whom our toil were play,

Ye man with armour’d patience the bulwarks night and day,

Or on your iron coursers plough shuddering through the Bay,

Or neath the deluge drive the skirmishing sharks of war:

Venturous boys who leapt on the pinnace and row’d from shore,

A mother’s tear in the eye, a swift farewell to say.

And a great glory at heart that none can take away.

Seldom is your home-coming; for aye your pennon flies

In unrecorded exploits on the tumultuous wave;

Till, in the storm of battle, fast-thundering upon the foe,

Ye add your kindred names to the heroes of long-ago,

And mid the blasting wrack, in the glad sudden death of the brave,

Ye are gone to return no more.-Idly our tears arise;

Too proud for praise as ye lie in your unvisited grave,

The wide-warring water, under the starry skies.

By Robert Bridges.

Sources:  Article from "The Westminster Gazette" 3rd November 1916 - sent to me by Historian Debbie Cameron.