Charles DICKINSON
Rank: Private
Number: 44530
Unit: 18th Battalion King’s (Liverpool) Regiment
Date of Death: 31 July 1917
Age: 25
Cemetery: Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium

Charles was the son of Thomas Dickinson, 29 Rowland Street, Heaton Norris, Stockport. Nothing is known of his early life except that he had been born in the Stockport area and attended Heaton Mersey Sunday School.

He enlisted into the army in Stockport and was originally posted to the Welsh Regiment (service number 40619). This service does not appear in his on-line medal entitlement records at the National Archives. This confirms that he didn't serve abroad with the Welsh and was probably transferred to the King's Regiment when he finished training.

He probably went overseas in 1916. Before he did, he is believed to have married Alice Brown at St Paul's Church, Portwood. Alice's address after the War was 10 Hardman Street, Stockport but it is not known if she and Charles ever lived there together.

31 July 1917 would see Charles and his mates in assembly positions ready for an attack. The coming day would become famous as the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres (or Passchendaele as it is more commonly known). No 1 and 3 Companies would lead the Battalion attack, supported by 2 and 4 Companies. At 3.50am, zero hour, the men advanced. They moved from Sanctuary Wood towards a German position known as Sterling Castle. The attack moved across the main road running east from the town of Ieper (then Ypres) towards Menin. It is near to the village of Gheluvelt and the lie of the land can be seen reasonably well to this day.

As they advanced, there was considerable confusion and the various battalions started to become mixed together. The result was that the two leading companies maintained their direction towards their objectives, but the support companies swerved off to the west of Sterling Castle towards the objectives of other units at Clapham Junction and Surbiton Villas.

The leading Companies were soon engaged in fighting with the enemy and some men from No. 1 Company were involved in a grenade attack against a German strongpoint. Other men came up across deep bands of barbed wire - attempts were made to cut through and eventually two gaps were made, but every man trying to pass through was killed or wounded.

Meanwhile, the attack of the other two companies appears to have stalled as its officers became casualties.

At 5.40am, the Battalion Commander went forward to establish the situation, but it was impossible to gain any firm intelligence about the situation, other than the first objectives had been secured but it seemed that Sterling Castle had been too heavily defended to capture. By mid afternoon, the men were digging-in and consolidating the gains. However, this front line group numbered only approximately 50 men. Other would later be accounted for (when contact was made with the two support companies) but there had been a heavy toll of casualties. Over 200 were dead or missing. Charles was one of those posted as missing. His body was never found and identified and it was not until July 1918 that the War Office made an official declaration that he must have been killed. Charles is still missing and his name is inscribed on the Memorial to the Missing at Ieper.

   
           
   
     
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