Charles Church Roberts

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Charles Church Roberts
Charles Church Roberts (MOH).jpg
At the White House, 13 June 1911
Born (1882-03-06)March 6, 1882
Newton, Massachusetts
Died March 8, 1957(1957-03-08) (aged 75)
Place of burial Prospect Hill Cemetery, Millis, Massachusetts
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service c. 1904–1921
Rank Lieutenant (junior grade)
Unit USS North Dakota (BB-29)
USS Santee
USS Manley (DD-74)
USS Melville (AD-2)
USS Reid (DD-292)
USS Fox (DD-234)
Battles/wars World War I
Awards Medal of Honor

Charles Church Roberts (March 6, 1882 – March 8, 1957) was a United States Navy sailor and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor. He was awarded the medal for his actions during a fire aboard the USS North Dakota (BB-29) in 1910. He later served in World War I and became a commissioned officer.


Roberts was born on March 6, 1882, in Newton, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy from Illinois in about 1904.[1]

By September 8, 1910, he was serving as a machinist's mate first class on the USS North Dakota (BB-29).[2] On that day, while the North Dakota was conducting tests using oil as fuel, an explosion occurred, killing three sailors and endangering the ship. In the engine room, pieces of hot coal and coke floated in waist-high hot water, oil was aflame above one of the boilers, and the entire room was filled with smoke, steam, and fumes. Despite these dangers, Roberts and five other men of the ship's engineering department entered the engine room to haul the boiler fires and perform other tasks necessary to prevent a boiler explosion. After ensuring the safety of the ship, they then searched for and removed the bodies of the three sailors killed in the initial explosion.[3]

For these actions, Roberts and the five other men were approved for the Medal of Honor a month later, on October 4. On 13 June 1911, President Taft presented all six heroes with their medal in a ceremony at the White House.[4] The others were Chief Machinist's Mate Thomas Stanton, Chief Machinist's Mate Karl Westa, Chief Watertender August Holtz, Chief Watertender Patrick Reid, and Watertender Harry Lipscomb.[2]

In 1917 during World War I, Roberts was appointed to the warrant officer rank of machinist and served on board the USS Santee. He was temporarily promoted to the commissioned officer rank of lieutenant (junior grade) in March 1918 and received orders to the destroyer USS Manley (DD-74) and then to USS Melville (AD-2). In November 1919 he was temporarily assigned to the destroyer USS Reid (DD-292), then fitting out at Squantum, Massachusetts, and later transferred to the USS Fox (DD-234). He resigned his commission in June 1921.[1]

Roberts died on March 8, 1957, two days after his 75th birthday, and was buried at Prospect Hill Cemetery in Millis, Massachusetts.[1]

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Roberts's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

Serving on board the U.S.S. North Dakota; for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession during the fire on board that vessel, 8 September 1910.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Lieutenant Junior Grade Charles C. Roberts, USN, (1882-1957)". Online Library of Selected Images. Naval History & Heritage Command. December 7, 2007. Retrieved February 2, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c "Medal of Honor recipients - Interim Awards, 1901-1911". Medal of Honor citations. United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009. Retrieved February 2, 2010. 
  3. ^ Williams, Dion (April 1919). "War Decorations". United States Naval Institute Proceedings. 45 (4): 511–512. ISSN 0041-798X. Retrieved February 1, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Six Naval Heroes Given Medals and Praise by Taft". The Washington Times (Washington, D.C.). 13 June 1911. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 

External links[edit]