Charles MINNIS
Rank: Private
Number: 47303
Unit: 11th Battalion MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 11 January 1917
Age: 19
Cemetery: Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

When the 1901 Census, Charles Minnis, a 32 year old miner was living at 3 Alverley Street, Bredbury, with his mistress, Margaret Hallworth. She was the mother of the future soldier and his younger brother Joe. The couple would marry shortly afterwards, in the closing months of 1902.

As he grew up, Charles joined the Lads Brigade at St Mark's Church and, in due course, followed in his father's footsteps and became a miner at Brinnington Colliery.

Charles's service number suggests he enlisted into the army around mid-1916 and was attached to the 3rd Battalion, Manchester Regiment. Although this is the unit inscribed on the Bredbury War Memorial, it was a reserve Battalion used only for training the men. Before he went overseas, Charles was assigned to the 11th Battalion. He cannot have been with them for long before he was killed.

On 6 January 1917, the Battalion went into the front line near the village of Hamel. This area had been at the centre of the Somme battlefield the previous summer. During this spell in the trenches, the Battalion suffered from regular enemy shelling. On 10 January, they were relieved by the 5th Dorsets and went into the reserve trenches.

The Dorsets were scheduled to attack the next morning and Charles and his comrades would be in support. The enemy were dug in at the heavily fortified Munich Trench, 350 yards away across No Man's Land. Their target was some ruins, known as The Nest, under which were known to be some dugouts. At 6.40am, the Dorsets dashed across and captured their objective with minimum loss. Later in the morning, the Germans counter-attacked in strength and the Dorsets had to withdraw.

About midday, the Manchesters received orders to attack and retake the position, but this attack was subsequently cancelled, but not before Charles had been killed.  Another local man, Walter Carter, was killed in the same incident and the army chaplain wrote to his family explaining what had happened. ".......He was one of a carrying party taking up little wooden planks to bridge the trenches for the men to go over the parapet. They had been up several times and were nearly back in safety. They took every precaution and walked down the trench keeping their heads low. A most unusual thing happened. An enemy shell dropped right in the middle of them. Three were badly wounded and six were killed outright......"

Walter Carter is buried at Aveluy Wood Cemetery but it would seem that Charles had been blown to pieces and it was not possible to identify the body. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing at nearby Thiepval.

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