Charles Victor CLAMPETT
Rank: Private
Number: 21512
Unit: 23rd Battalion MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 3 December 1916
Age: 22
Cemetery: Habarcq Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas de Calais, France

When the 1901 Census was taken, the Clampetts were living at 12 Cannon Avenue, Levenshulme. 35 year old Leopold Clampett worked as a manager in the textile trade. He had married Elizabeth Leamon in 1887 and they had had four children together - Nina (then 11), Eric (7), Charles (6) and Denis (2). The family history website, FreeBMD, records that Leopold appears to have remarried in 1908 but it is not known when Elizabeth died.

In due course, Charles followed his father into the textile trade and, when War was declared in 1914, was working for Thomas Grimshaw Ltd, Dale Street, Manchester. The firm traded as the Oak Tree Hosiery Company and Charles was included in its entry in the Manchester City Battalions Book of Honour. In his spare time, he was ammeber of the Davenport Golf Club.

Reporting his death, the local newspaper suggested that he had enlisted in September 1914. He may well have tried to enlist then but it is almost certain that he was rejected for not reaching the minimum height of 5' 3". In the November, "Bantam Battalions" were established for those short, but otherwise fit, men. It would seem that Charles was amongst the first in the queue waiting to join up as he was assigned to its No. 1 Platoon in "A" Company. It was officially designated as the 23rd Battalion of the Regiment, but quickly became known to everyone as the 8th Manchester Pals. Some details of their recruitment and training is here.

The battalion left Britain for active service in France at the beginning of November 1915 and, almost to the day a year later, Charles received the wounds that would prove fatal. On the 5th, he and his comrades started another tour of duty in the front line, relieving the 20th Lancashire Fusliers in the trenches near the town of Arras. The Regimental Archives holds an unpublished history of the Battalion which mentions this particular tour "The enemy snipers kept things lively and enemy aeroplanes were numerous over the line. Then, too, the Germans indulged in some two hours shelling on the 6th but with little effect and there were few casualties."  The local newspaper reported that Charles had been wounded on the 8th and this was most probably due to the continued work of the German snipers and artillery.

The Cemetery where Charles is buried was used by the Army's Field Ambulance. Today, we think of an ambulance only as a means of transport but during the War, it played a crucial part in the casualty evacuation chain. As well as transporting injured men, it also maintained the Main Dressing Station in each sector, staffed by doctors. This would be the first opportunity a man had to receive more than first aid and the main role of the Station was to patch men up as best and as quickly as possible to prepare them for further evacuation to the more extensive facilities of a field hospital some miles behind the lines. The doctors would also undertake a triage examination of each man and take the harsh but necessary decision that, for some, their injuries were so extensive that there was no hope of their survival.

Such men would be separated from those who were treatable and would be made as comfortable as possible. They would be given very large doses of morphine but no other practical treatment. Normally the men would be dead within a couple of days or so. Charles survived for nearly a month but his death at Habarcq can only mean he had been placed in this category. One can only wonder if he might have lived had a different decision had been taken.  

Both of Charles brothers served during the War and are believed to have survived. Denis was wounded on 28 June 1918 whilst serving with the 1st West Kents. Eric was wounded in the leg in April 1918 whilst with 9th Northumberland Fusiliers. At some point, he had undertaken an unknown act of bravery for which he was awarded the Military Medal.

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