Rank: Private
Number: 7245
Unit: 89th Company MACHINE GUN CORPS
Date of Death: 30 July 1916
Age: 38
Cemetery: Guillemont Road Cemetery, Guillemont, Somme, France

Charles lived at 107 Stockport Road, Cheadle, with his wife and 5 children. He had worked as an engineer at Clays Bleachworks, Cheadle. He originated from Bulwell, Nottingham.

He enlisted at Stockport, joining the Notts & Derbyshire Regiment (The Sherwood Foresters). His service number was 27048. At some point, he transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. His Company went on active service from 13 March 1916, when it joined 89th Brigade (mainly comprised of battalions of the Liverpool "Pals"). The machine gunners were specialist troops using the heavy tripod-mounted Vickers machine gun. This required two men to carry it, together with another two carrying the ammunition. From the account below, it would seem that Charles was one of the ammunition carriers. Its bullets were loaded onto a canvas belt, holding 250 cartridges, which was fed through the gun. It could fire off all 250 in 30 seconds. The Machine Gun Companies were used to support attacks, by concentrating fire on particular points in front of the advance, with devastating effect.

On 30 July, the Brigade was ordered to participate in an attack on the village of Guillemont. This had been an objective since the opening day of the Battle of the Somme on the first of the month. The troops had captured the neighbouring village of Montauban on 1 July, subsequently moving through Bernafray Wood and Trones Wood by the middle of the month. Today, it would take only a couple of minutes to drive the distance.

Unsuccessful advances were made towards the village on 15 and 23 July. During the night of 29/30 July, 89th Brigade moved to assembly positions in Trones Wood. The enemy must have sensed that another attack was imminent as it increased its barrage of the wood with high explosive and gas shells. Zero hour was set for 4.45am and, as dawn broke, it became apparent that the visibility had been reduced to 40 yards by thick fog. The Brigade's objective was an area known as Falfemont Farm. 

His section officer, Lieutenant A B Acheson wrote "He went over the top with me on the early morning of 30th July. We came under very heavy machine gun fire and it was while he was getting ammunition up to his gun that he was hit. Later, I was hit myself and it was not until I could get back to the dressing station that I knew he had been touched. I met him on my way back. He was lying in a shell hole, very badly hit in the body, but too far gone to allow any hope for him. He seemed in no pain and was not disturbed to die, for he knew he had done his duty, like the gallant soldier he was."

The attack had proved to be as unsuccessful as the previous ones. The village was too well defended and surrounded by open countryside which gave no cover to the attacking troops. 89th Brigade had suffered over 1300 casualties. The Brigade's objective of Falfemont farm was not captured until 4 September, the village itself having been taken the previous day.

(Original research for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)

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