The Hartlepool hero who just kept on saving lives at sea

Capt Charles Carter.
Capt Charles Carter.

Rescuing people at sea became something of a speciality for Captain Charles Henry Carter.

So much so that he ended up at Buckingham Palace to collect an MBE for his endeavours.

Our report of his story in 1956.

Our report of his story in 1956.

Chris Cordner explained more about the man who went from working on a herring drifter to saving the victims of a U-boat torpedo attack.

By 1956, Charles Carter had spent 34 years at sea.

His big reason for celebration was not the investiture ceremoney which awaited him in London. It was the fact that he’d never “got his feet wet” despite a life of facing German E-boats and surviving several perilous Atlantic convoys.

Life at sea proper had started for him in 1929 when he sailed out of Ropner’s in Hartlepool.

I did everything but the Russian convoys. Thank God, I never got my feet wet in all that time.

Charles Carter

A year later, the then Able Seaman Carter joined Constantines which was a Middlesbrough shipping company. Eventually, he sailed in 20 of their vessels including 3,000 ton cargo ships.

By 1944, he was the Master of the Norwood and by 1956, he had tales aplenty to tell the Northern Daily Mail.

We described him at the time as having “a sea chest full of yarns about his adventures in more than 30 years at sea.”

One happened in the Second World War when he rescued the commander, staff and crew of the Effra. She was torpedoed in a German E-boat attack in the North Sea and his daring actions when Charles the Oak Leaves award for his courage.

In 1950, he took nine men aboard his ship from a crippled vessel called the Teboura.

She was a Tunisian vessel but thanks to Master Carter, she was towed 62 miles to safety in Marseilles.

That led to the Tunisian Government making him a Commander of the Order of Nickon Ifterker.

In 1960, he came to the rescue again. This time it was the Dutch motor vessel Henrietta B which was later towed to Brest.

And before all of this, he survived several Atlantic convoys.

“I did everything but the Russian convoys,” he told our reporter in 1956.

“Thank God, I never got my feet wet in all that time.”.

Charles grew up in Hartlepool but spent the 14 years up to 1956 living in Owton Manor Lane in West Hartlepool.

Despite all his achievements, he admitted to the Mail: 2I got the shock of my life when I opened the letter from the Prime Minister.

“I am looking forward to the ceremony very much but it is still a mystery to me why I was ever chosen for the honour.”

Who remembers him and can anyone tell us more about his heroism.

Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk