Charles MCDONALD
Rank: Private
Number: 19974
Unit: IX Corps Cyclist Battalion ARMY CYCLIST CORPS
Date of Death: 7 October 1918
Age:
Cemetery: Tincourt New British Cemetery, Somme, France

Nothing has been discovered about Charles' early life, except that Army records indicate he was born in Stockport and enlisted in the town. He originally joined the 53rd (Welsh Division) Cyclist Company. His low service number, 359, indicates he was probably an original member when the Company was formed in May 1915. The Cyclist Companies were later merged into Battalions operating at Army Corps level.

In the early part of the War, Cyclists units operated as despatch riders and also as scouts (effectively working as cavalry in this role). However, as the conflict stagnated into trench warfare, the troops were increasingly used as ordinary infantry.

Charles died of wounds he had received and, as such, it cannot be said with absolute certainty when he was injured. However, on 4 October, the Battalion went into the front line, near the town of St Quentin, relieving the 6th North Staffordshires. Just after 5am the next morning, enemy shellfire opened up on the British front line, causing a number of casualties in No. 1 Company. 2 officers and 11 other ranks were injured.

An hour later, the 2nd Australian Division attacked German positions at Montbrehan. The Cyclists were ordered to support this attack by sending out fighting patrols, supported by full platoons, advancing behind a creeping barrage to occupy high ground on Mannequin Hill. The patrols went out and reached the slope of the Hill. However, they found that they were unsupported by other units and were unable to progress any further due to heavy machine gun fire. They could not properly dig in as the ridge of the Hill was still occupied by the German who were able to pour fire onto them.

They found whatever cover they could and, not long after, they were able to advance again, capturing the ridge. At 8.30, the Germans counter-attacked and the Battalion had to withdraw to its original positions. They had managed to capture 60 prisoners. They had also put out of action 12 machine guns and 2 trench mortars.

It is almost certain that, at some time during the day, Charles was badly wounded. He would have received treatment just behind the front line from the Battalion's medical officer before being sent down the casualty evacuation chain. He will have been seen again, by a doctor, at the Main Dressing Station, perhaps a couple of miles behind the front line and will then have been sent to the field hospital based at Tincourt. There military surgeons would have done all they could to save his life, but without success.

   
           
   
     
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