Edward CHARD
Rank: Private
Number: 9113
Date of Death: 30 December 1917
Age: 40
Cemetery: Hesdin Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

Edward was an ex-regular soldier who rejoined the army when war broke out. He survived over three years of the War only to die in an accident which the army described as "skylarking" with a mate.

He'd been born in Stockport, the son of Charles and Mary of 28 St Matthews Road and had four siblings - Alfred, Annie, Maurice and William. Two of the brothers also served in the army and were wounded in action. As a young man, Edward had joined the regular army and served for eight years in India with the Cheshire Regiment. After his return to civilian life, he married Jane Ellen Burke and they lived at 21 Fleet Street, Burton on Trent and 92 Lower Tower Street, Birmingham. They had two sons - John, born in 1909 and Alfred, in 1912. He earned his living as a boilermaker.

With the War less than a month old, Edward travelled to Worcester and joined up again on 30 August 1914. His service papers still exist at the National Archives and these show him to have been above average height for those times - standing at nearly 5' 10". He had fair hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. The examining doctor noted he was in a good state of physical development. Edward had given his religious denomination as Anglican.

He was posted to the 6th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment and, on 6 November, was transferred to the 13th Battalion. Still in the UK, Edward was caught "attempting to dispose of Government property" and was sentenced to 21 days in a military prison. Two months later, he served another two weeks behind bars for going absent without leave. However, only a month after this, on 13 August, he was promoted to Lance Corporal and Corporal on  12 October.

On 23 March 1916, Edward left England and was posted to the 4th Battalion which had just arrived on the Western Front from Egypt. Edward will have taken part in the summer fighting at the Battle of the Somme. On 29 January 1917, he asked to be reduced in rank back to private and this was agreed. Between the 10th and 17th March he was away from duty sick but on the day of his return to duty, he was fined three days pay for having a dirty canteen. The next month, he lost two weeks pay for being drunk. On 14 July, he returned home for the last time on ten days leave.

Shortly after his return to duty, Edward undertook a now unknown act of bravery for which he was awarded the Military Medal. The official announcement was made in the London Gazette in its edition of 15 March 1918.

On the day he died, Edward and his comrades were in billets. There was an official enquiry into what happened and the following is the evidence given by 242352, Private Walter Hoddinott. "I returned to my billet about 8.20pm. I was in the corner of the billet by my bed about a couple of minutes when I saw Pte. Chard approach to where Pte Sherratt was standing about two yards away from me. Without any exchange of words, Pte Chard took hold of Pte Sherratt and began wrestling with him. Pte Sherratt did not offer any resistance. After about half a minute, Pte Sherratt broke away but was again caught hold of by Pte Chard. Pte Sherratt trying to get away was walking backwards and they both bumped up against what I previously thought was the wall of the billet but what turned out to be a door which had not previously been opened. The door gave way and Pte Chard and Pte Sherratt fell through to the ground below, a distance of 9 or 10 feet. As far as I know, there was no ill feeling between Pte Chard and Pte Sherratt."

Sherratt confirmed the same events. He had been relatively unscathed but Edward had fractured his skull. He was taken to a nearby field hospital but nothing could be done.

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