|Date of Birth||January 1, 1970|
|Place of Birth||Liverpool|
|Force||British Merchant Navy|
|Branch||British Merchant Navy|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Liverpool, England|
|Date of Enlistment||November 26, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||15|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||November 21, 1956|
|Age at Death||55|
|Buried At||Pine Hlls Cemetery, Scarborough, Ontario|
Seaman Charles Edward Letman was born in Liverpool, England in 1901, the oldest son of Edward Thomas Letman and Esther Mann. When he was still very young his parents moved to Seacombe, Cheshire, which was on the River Mersey across from Liverpool. His father worked there as an electric tramway conductor. Charles had at least one younger brother, Walter Leslie, and a younger sister Lilian Ada, both born in Seacombe.
Charles turned 13 years old the year the war started. His father passed away in the spring or early summer of 1916 and Charles joined the Merchant Navy later that same year. He said he signed up in Liverpool in November 1916 and served for two years, getting discharged in December 1918 in Glasgow. He was awarded the British Medal Ribbon, the Mercantile Marine Ribbon and the Mercantile Marine Medal. The medal was awarded to seamen in the Merchant Navy who made at least one voyage through a war or danger zone.
Charles immigrated to Canada in the summer of 1921, at age 19. He settled in Espanola, Ontario where he found work at a paper mill. In 1923 he made a trip home to England to visit his family. He was married in Pembroke, Ontario on 30 June 1925 to Anna Bertha Ballstead. Annie was born in 1904 in Petawawa, Ontario, the daughter of Herman and Bertha Ballstead (Ballsteadt). Her father died when she was just a few months old and she had one older brother, William. They were raised by their mother in Petawawa and later in Pembroke.
By 1928 Charles and Annie had moved to Kenora, Ontario where they made their home for more than twenty years. They had five children: Victor, Donald, Edward, Charles Jr. and Marlene Ann. Charles worked at the paper mill in Kenora and he joined Lake of the Woods Lodge No. 445 and the Kenora branch of the Canadian Legion. Some of his children moved to southern Ontario and lived in Ottawa, Belleville and Scarborough. Charles and his wife moved to the Toronto area in the late 1940s or early 1950s. He passed away in Toronto on 21 November 1956, at age 55, and he’s buried in Pine Hills Cemetery in Scarborough.
By Becky Johnson
Photo at the top is the Mercantile Marine Medal.