Charles Robert MALLALIEU
Rank: sergeant
Number: 7209
Unit: 1st Battalion King’s Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment
Date of Death: 23 October 1916
Age: 32
Cemetery: Thiepval Memorial

Chalres was born in the Fairfield area of East Manchester and the family history website, FreeBMD, notes that his birth was registered in the late autumn of 1884. In 1901 a national Census was taken and, at the time, the Mallalieu family was living at 6 Clifford Street, Gorton. Charles' father, also called Charles, was 44 and worked as a cooper. His wife, Esther, had given birth to at least two children who survived. Annie was 12 and Charles was 16. He worked making chairs at a furniture works.

In November of the same year, Charles joined the army and, in May 1905, went with the 1st Battalion, King's Own, to India, being stationed at Jala Pamur. He was awarded the Army Certificate of Education (3rd Class) in August 1907 and the 2nd Class in November 1909.

Not long after this, Charles left the army and returned to the Manchester area, where he married. He and his wife would have three children together by 1916. Charles was working at Sir W G Armstrong, Whitworth & Co in the Openshaw area of Manchester when war was declared in August 1914. He was still on the army reserve list and was recalled to duty. His service is recorded on his employer's entry in the Manchester City Battalions Book of Honour (page 409). He was not sent overseas immediately, possibly being retained in the UK to train new recruits. He eventually rejoined his unit on 29 June 1915.

The Battle of the Somme had started on 1 July 1916 and the advance had been extremely slow and costly in casualties. By late October, the fighting was drawing to a close, but fairly small scale attacks took place across the battlefield on a regular basis. Monday, 23 October would see another such attack, by the British 4th and 8th Division towards the Transloy ridge .

Zero hour was set fro 11.30am but was put back until 2.30pm, due to heavy mist. At the new hour, the British artillery barrage opened and crept slowly across No Man's Land, closely followed by "C" and "D" Companies of the King's Own. They captured the German front line "Spectrum Trench" and pushed on the take the first part of the ridge. Here they came under heavy fire and also found they were unsupported on their right flank. Consequently, both companies had to withdraw back to Spectrum Trench. "A" and "B" Companies started 10 minutes later and were intended to pass through the leading troops to take further objectives. However, they came under such heavy and extremely accurate shelling from the enemy artillery and machine gun fire from the right, that few even reached their comrades in Spectrum Trench. 

At this point, the Germans counter-attacked but were held off, for 30 hours, by very determined fighting from the King's Own men, now virtually without officers. Nearly 170 men were dead or missing and another 120 wounded. The Regimental History describes the day as the worst experienced by the Battalion. "The weather was cold and wet, the mud sticky and greasy, the trenches shallow and confined and the enemy's shelling accurate and unceasing. Such a combination of circumstances would have been a hard test of endurance for experienced troops, but the majority of the men were just out from England and were having their first taste of warfare."

Although Charles now has no known grave, news that he had been killed (rather than him being one of those posted as missing) will have come quickly to his wife, now living at 148 Hyde Road, Woodley. A memorial service was held for him at St Mark's Church, Bredbury on the evening of 22 November.

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