Charles Robert Hadfield ORFORD
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Date of Death: 18 July 1917 (officially 19 July 1917)
Age: 20
Cemetery: Coxyde Military Cemetery, Koksijde, Belgium

Charles came from a very privileged background. His father, William, was a successful solicitor and, in 1901, the family could already demonstrate the trappings of Edwardian wealth. William, his wife Katherine and their four children lived at 5 Wilton Polygon, Crumpsall - then a very "up market" area of Manchester. They could afford to employ five live-in servants - a governess, cook, nurse, housemaid and waitress.

Charles had been born on 31 March 1897 and, in due course, would be educated at Mill Head School in Shrewsbury and also at the Birkenhead School. He later went to work as an apprentice in the offices of a shipping house.

On 11 December 1915, he travelled to Hyde to enlist and was assigned to the 2nd Reserve Battalion of the Welsh Guards (service number 2731). As with so many young men from his social background, he was quickly marked out to become an officer and his application for a commission is dated 11 July 1916. Charles' service papers still exist at the National Archives and these show him to have been very tall for those days, standing at over 6' 1" and weighing 145 pounds.

He received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant on 24 January 1917 and will have joined the Fusiliers on active service shortly afterwards. In June of 1917, British troops relieved their French counterparts in the St George's (now St Joris) sector of the front line near the Belgian coastal town of Nieuport. Although this area was much quieter than around Ypres, it was still a very dangerous place to be, but the fighting was characterised by the exchange of artillery shelling and small scale actions.

In the days leading up to Charles' death, the Fusiliers had attempted several raids on the enemy trenches opposite with little success. On the 17th, another raid, about 30 strong, went out into No Man's Land. They came across a German party intent on the same task and a sharp fight took place in which casualties were suffered on both sides.

The Battalion's War Diary entry for the 18th notes "4pm. Heavy bombardment of our front line and support for 15 minutes. Retaliation for our firing during the day."  The Diary indicates that Charles was wounded, most probably by the shelling, and died shortly afterwards. His burial, a little way behind the front line, so close to where he was wounded, indicates he must have died soon after being wounded and before he could be evacuated to a field hospital.

Charles' personal effects were forwarded to the family. These included his spectacles, wrist watch and gold ring together with other mundane items such as a compass, jack knife, whistle and a fountain pen. It is not known when the family moved the High Lane area. They are not listed in the 1914 edition of Kelly's Directory but, in 1916, Charles had given his mother's address as Orford House, High Lane. His father is believed to have died by then. In January 1918, there was correspondence between the family and the War Office over Charles' service pension. The application form noted they were then living at "The Cottage", High Lane (although they had returned to Orford House by the 1920s. Apart from his mother, it listed his family as being Katherine (then 27), Norah (22 and by then married to the Rev. H Haworth, vicar of Disley), Lilian (17), David (14) and Eleanor (12).

Some further information about Charles (including a photograph)  can be found in the book "Remembered" by P Clarke, A Cook and J Bintliff.

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