Prescot Roll of Honour

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WW1 Casualty: Gunner 187308 Edward Charles -

Gunner 187308 Edward Charles

Unit/Regiment 544th Siege Bty., Royal Garrison Artillery
Date of Death 06/11/1918 Age at Death 36
& Reference
Fretin Communal Cemetery
Census Details 1881 Census -
The Charles family lived at 7, Market Place, Prescot. Robert Charles, aged 41, was a Licenced Victualler. No 7 was the Queens Arms Public House

1901 Census -
Edward was a 19 year old Railway Engine cleaner, living at 12 Wentworth Street, Everton. He lived with his widowed mother Celia, aged 64, and 29 year old sister Jane.

1911 Census -
Edward lived at 3, Gidlow Road, Stanley which was the home of his brother in law John Powell. Edward was 29, unmarried and worked as a Casual Labourer.
Birth/Marriage/Death Registrations Birth Registered Q1/1882, Prescot, 8b, 696
SDGW – Where Born Prescot, Lancs
Enlisted Liverpool
How Died Died of Wounds Theatre of War France & Flanders
Research Ref. No. P048

Service Details

Edward Charles was born in Prescot and baptised at St Mary's Church on 19th February 1882. The Charles family were resident at the Queen's Arms in Market Place from 1873 to 1887.

Edward arrived in France on 6th October 1915 as Private 4880 with the 16th Lancers, part of the Household Cavalry.

AT some point, he must have returned to the UK, perhaps wounded, because he was transferred to the 544th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery on 20th December 1917 and left Southampton on the 1st April 1918, arriving in Le Havre the following day

Siege Batteries were equipped with heavy howitzers, sending large calibre high explosive shells in high trajectory, plunging fire. As British artillery tactics developed, the Siege Batteries were most often employed in destroying or neutralising the enemy artillery, as well as putting destructive fire down on strongpoints, dumps, store, roads and railways behind enemy lines.

A Siege Battery pictured in France in 1918 (c) Chris Baker

But their existence made them a prime target for the enemy artillery, and casualties within the Siege Batteries were often victims of retaliatory artillery fire.

It isn't known when Gunner Charles was wounded, but it was likely to have been in the few days immediately before his death.

The graves at Fretin are those of soldiers who died in the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station at the end of October and early November, 1918.

Edward Charles' Medal Index Card shows that he originally arrived in France on 6th October 1914, for which he was entitled to the 1914 Star. He was also entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

The Register of Soldiers Effects shows Edward's brother Richard and sister Celia Powell as recipients

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