Hugh was born in Middlesex, and was the son of John, a renowned painter, and Kate Macfarlane Charlton. He had one brother, John Macfarlan Charlton, who also died in the war and is also commemorated on the Armstrong memorial.
Hugh was educated at The Mount, Northallerton, Aldenham School, Hertfordshire and Armstrong College, where he studied Art.
Hugh received his commission in August 1915 as Second Lieutenant in the Northumberland Fusiliers, 7th Battalion. He entered France on 13th March 1916.
Hugh was killed in action on 24th June 1916 aged 32 in West-Vlaanderen, Heuvelland, Belgium. He was struck by a bomb from a trench mortar near Whychaate. Seven days later, his younger brother John was also killed in action on the first day of the Somme.
Their father, also John, in a canvas now lost, painted the two young men sat with their grandmother; while in another painting entitled 'The Brothers H.V.C. and J.M.C., Sandisdyke', two young men with their three dogs look up to the viewer. He also painted a posthumous portrait of John that was exhibited in the spring of 1917. On the 10th November 1917, John died after a brief illness.
His obituary was published on 1 September 1916 in “British Birds” journal (along with obituary to his brother John MacFarlane Charlton):
LIEUTENANT HUGH VAUGHAN CHARLTON, NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILIERS – Fell in action near Whychaate, on June 24th, 1916, struck by a bomb from a trench mortar. He was thirty-two years of age, and joined the Armstrong College O.T.C., receiving his commission in August of last year. He also, was a clever ornithologist, and the brothers worked much together, though Hugh’s inclinations leaned towards animal painting, for which he studied in Newcastle, Edinburgh and London. Birds were his speciality; his work was very artistic and he had a fine sense of colour and beauty in nature and in art, and was a sound critic. His paintings had already been hung in exhibitions in the cities where he had carried on his studies. One of his pictures, “The Home of the Dipper,” was exhibited in the Royal Academy of 1912.
As an officer he had earned warm tributes of affection from his Colonel and comrades, he devoted all his energies to his military duties, and, what makes his death doubly sad, is the knowledge that he had, a few days before, received an important appointment on the Staff.
Both the Charlton’s were keen sportsmen, taking special interest in wildfowling, for which they had exceptional opportunities on the Northumberland coast. It may truly be said of them that they would have shone in whatever profession they choose. They were patterns of honour, integrity and gentlemanly character, as well as being charming companions. The writer deeply deplores their untimely death, a feeling that is shared by all who knew them, and lovers of natural history will regret that ornithology has lost two students of great promise. Their father is Mr. John Charlton, the well-known artist, of Knightsbridge, S.W., and Newcastle-on-Tyne. On their mother’s side they were great-grandsons of the late John Vaughan, one of the pioneers of the Cleveland Iron Trade and grandsons of the late Thomas Vaughan, of Gunnergate Hall, Middlesbrough.
An exhibition of paitings by the Charlton brothers by the Northumbria Natural History Society can be seen at http://www.nhsn.ncl.ac.uk/resources/archive/stories-local-history/the-fi...