Charlie Hughes lived all his life in Stockport until, at the beginning of 1914, he joined the army as a regular soldier. His parents were Edward Hughes, a hairdresser, and Elizabeth of 14 St Petersgate. He had an older brother, Edward, who would also serve in the army during the War. Edward was wounded in 1915 and, at the time of Charles death, was a patient at the Huddersfield Military Hospital where he'd also developed rheumatic fever. Nothing is known of Charles' early life but, when he left school, he went to work as a clerk for local solicitor, Oliver Coppock, 10 Vernon Street.
The 1st Battalion went overseas on active service on 10 September 1914, just over a month after War was declared. The men were fortunate to miss the early battles at Mons and the subsequent retreat. In April of 1915, Charlie wrote home "We have now been out of the trenches eight days, quite a long holiday. We shall shortly be in again and expect some still fighting. In the fighting about a fortnight ago, I had one or two narrow escapes. On one occasion, a big piece of shrapnel scraped across my knuckles and just took skin off. Again, four of us were going out to men telephone wire and left our packs and overcoats. We had only just left the farm when a "Jack Johnson" hit it square and this was followed up by a few high explosive shells. There was not much of the farm left in a few minutes and I did not go back for my overcoat and pack, you can be sure."
The attack which would later be called the Battle of Loos would see the British use poison gas for the first time. The plan was the gas would be released towards the German trenches, incapacitating the defenders and the British infantry would follow up to "finish the job". However, on many part of the battlefield, the wind direction turned just as the gas was being released and it caused casualties amongst the Tommies. On the right of the whole attack, the gas moved much as intended and the leading units went over the top behind it, attacking from near Vermelles towards Hulloch.
As those men went across No Man's Land, the Fusiliers came forward into the front line trench. At 6.45am, they also attacked. "A" and "B" Companies led the way with "C" and "D" in support, 100 yards to the rear. As they crossed the 500 yards to the German line they came under very heavy machine gun fire from the German strongpoint known as the Hohenzollern Redoubt and the enemy trenches called "Big Willie" and the slag heap.
The three attacking battalions in this sector were now reinforced by a fourth and, although numbers were considerably diminished, they pressed forward again and, by 9.30, the Hulloch Quarries had been taken. The men carried on the attack towards Cite St. Elie but found that a combination of heavy machine gun fire and unbroken wire in front of the German trenches meant they could make no further progress. They fell back to the Quarries and consolidated this position. Losses had been so great that the Battalion was now commanded by a Lieutenant. 454 men, nearly half the full strength of a battalion, had become casualties - dead, wounded or missing.