Charles FORTH
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Unit: 2/10th Battalion MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 29 July 1917 (see below)
Age: 20
Cemetery: Coxyde Military Cemetery, Koksijde, Belgium

Charles was born on 7 January 1897, the younger son of Henry and Annabelle Forth (nee Gow). He was born at the family home - then 14 Regent Street, New Basford, Nottinghamshire. Within 4 years, the family had moved to Marple, where the 1901 Census shows them living at "Meadowcroft", Meadow Lane, Maple.

Henry was a successful chemical merchant and his income provided a comfortable middle class upbringing for Charles and his older brother, Eric. The family employed two live-in general servants - Esther Hayes and Esther Pendlebury. Charles attended Mill Hill, a boarding school in North West London where he was a member of the Officer Training Corps. A report on his Corps' activities showed him to have "good general efficiency" and that he was "first class" in musketry. He left the school in 1913 and then attended Manchester University where he continued with membership of the OTC in his spare time.

It's not known if he obtained a degree before he joined the army on 1 December 1915. Prior to enlistment, he was working as a commercial traveller for a chemical merchant. This was possibly his father's business. His service papers still exist at the National Archives and these show his home address to then be Stoke Lacy, Marple. He was nearly 6 feet tall and weighed 140 pounds. The examining doctor recorded he had "good physical development". Charles had given his religious denomination as Congregationalist.

Private Charles Forth was assigned to the 3/8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment and was given the service number of 6050. Whilst still in training, he was selected to become an officer and joined No. 6 Officer Cadet Battalion on 22 November 1916. When he received his commission, he was posted to the 2/10th Battalion. The Battalion had long been the training reserve for the 1/10th Battalion but it went overseas on active service in its own right in March 1917 and it most likely that Charles was one of its original officers.

It was sent to a quiet sector - at the extreme western end of the whole Western Front - in the trenches adjoining the Channel coast where they even ran through the sand dunes to the beach. The records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission indicate Charles' date of death as being 30 July, but an examination of the Battalion's own War Diary records it as the day before. On this day, the men were in reserve at Bayder Camp at Coxyde Bains (now the Belgian seaside resort of Koksijde). Although not in the front line, this was not a time for rest. The men were carrying out various working parties and Charles was in command of one party which was shelled by the enemy, causing his death and that of three of his men. His Commanding Officer, Colonel Morgan, wrote to the family saying he had been killed instantly by a piece of shrapnel.

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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