Leading Stoker 1st Class Charles Evelyn Thomas was born in Helston, Cornwall in March 1855 and entered the Royal Navy as a Stoker 2nd Class aboard H.M.S. Indus in November 1874. Following several other seagoing appointments over the next decade, including active service off Egypt in the Sultan, he joined H.M.Y. Victoria and Albert as a Stoker in late 1884. Thereafter, he remained in her service until pensioned in November 1899, an appointment that witnessed his advancement to Leading Stoker 2nd Class in June 1894 and to Leading Stoker 1st Class in June 1895.