Charles Herbert MATTHEWS
Rank: Private
Number: 243520
Unit: 13th Battalion (4th Bn on Memorial) CHESHIRE Regiment
Date of Death: 8 June 1917
Age: 33
Cemetery: Menin Gate Memorial

The birth of a Charles Herbert Matthews was registered in South Manchester during the autumn of 1883. This may be the man on the Memorial whose parents were known to be Thomas and Elizabeth Matthews who, after the War, were living at Myrtle Cottage, Key Green, Congleton.

By the time of the Great War, he had married Julia and they lived at 34 Lyme Grove, Romiley.

Charles' inscription on the Bredbury War Memorial records that his unit was the 4th Cheshires. This was a pre-war Territorial Battalion based in Birkenhead. This might well have been Charles' original unit if he was working on Merseyside at the time or, as the War progressed, recruitment was no longer confined to local men. However, he did not serve abroad with the 4th Battalion, as confirmed by his on-line medal entitlement records at the National Archives. This confirms that the only service number issued to him is as given above, This is consistent with him being a member of the 5th Cheshires and not going overseas with them until at least January 1917 (when the six-digit numbers came into use).

It is probable that he never saw action with the 5th Battalion and was transferred to the 13th directly on arrival in France. On 7 June 1917, Charles took part in the attack at the Battle of Messines. The next day, the men continued to consolidate the positions they had secured - known as October and October Support Trenches. There was intermittent shelling throughout the day. A enemy counter-attack on nearby Australian positions was easily repulsed and, in the evening , the Battalion moved back into reserve at Occur and Occur Reserve Trenches, relieving the 10th Cheshires. Charles was one of three soldiers to be killed during the day. This was almost certainly by the shellfire and it might account for why he has no known grave.

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