Charles SIMS
Rank: Private
Number: 14493
Unit: 11th Battalion CHESHIRE Regiment
Date of Death: 28 December 1915
Age: 34
Cemetery: Rifle House Cemetery, Hainaut, Belgium

Charles is thought to have lived all his life in the Reddish area until he enlisted into the army.  His family home was at Sykes Street. Between July and September 1901, he married Elizabeth Ann Brickhill and they lived at 34 Weston Street, South Reddish, with their four children. Originally, he had worked as a greengrocer but, more recently, had been employed at Hornsby's works.

He enlisted on 4 September 1914 and would have gone on active service with the Battalion on 25 September 1915. On the day he was killed, Charles and his mates were in trenches in the Ploegsteert sector of Belgium, just north of the French town of Armentieres.

The Battalion's War Diary has a good record of the day - "Usual artillery activity during the day. After dark, the enemy's rifle fire was perceptibly heavier than usual. 9.30pm - An enemy patrol of 3 or 4 men were seen - on being fired on the patrol disappeared over the parapet. One man was seen by the use of a Very light to throw up his hands as if hit, whilst climbing over the parapet. 10.15pm - Heavy rifle and machine gun fire opened on trenches on our right by enemy. Our right company stood to arms and opened rapid fire on the enemy's parapet opposite. Two men were seen on enemy's parapet but disappeared under the heavy fire from our trenches. Enemy's fire, which previously had been brisk, was entirely silenced. A band was heard playing behind German lines."

During these exchanges, Charles had been shot.

His officer later wrote to Elizabeth "I am very grieved to have to write a letter with such sad news but it is my unfortunate duty to have to inform you that your husband was shot in the head, whilst on sentry duty and died shortly afterwards. The poor fellow suffered no pain whatever, the wound rendering him unconscious at once. We all, officers and men alike, deeply regret the sad happening and our sincerest sympathy is with you and your children in your loss."

The Battalion chaplain also wrote "I am sure it will comfort you to know that your husband is buried in a little cemetery reserved for soldiers and a cross bearing his name and Regiment and date of death will be placed over him". Two years later, Elizabeth arranged for an "in memorium" notice to be inserted in the Stockport Express, published on 20 December 1917.

"When alone in my sorrow and bitter tears flow

There stealeth a dream of two years ago

And, unknown to the world, he stands by my side

And whispers these words "death cannot divide"

In the early 1920s, when the War Graves Commission was collating its casualty information, Elizabeth was still living in the house she had shared with Charles but she had remarried and was now Elizabeth Taylor.

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