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  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone marking his grave at Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, Pas de Calais, France. Photograph Murray Biddle
Person Details
Manchester Lancashire
Charles Morley was the eldest son of John Plowright and Frances Houfton (née Morley). John Plowright became mayor of Mansfield (1912) and also an alderman and was an MP 1922-1923 (Coalition Unionist candidate). He was the owner of Bolsover Colliery Company and was knighted in the King's Birthday Honours 1929. His father John Plowright was born in Chesterfield in 1858, the son of Charles Houfton, a mining engineer, and Phoebe Houfton (née Plowright). His mother Frances Morley was born in Garforth, Yorkshire, in about 1852. John and Phoebe were married in 1884 (reg. Tadcaster) and had four children: Agnes Phoebe b. Garforth 1885, Charles Morley b. Manchester 1887, Frances Mary b. Fenton Staffordshire 1889 and George Herbert b. Sutton Scardale Derbyshire 1890. In 1891 John, a mining engineer and colliery manager, his wife and their three children, Agnes, Charles and Frances were living in Sutton cum Duckmanton, Chesterfield. The family had moved to Portland House, Bolsover Woodhouse, by 1901 but only Agnes and Frances were in the home with their parents on the night of the census. It is likely that thir brothers were away at school. By 1911 John, a managing director of limited companies (Bolsover Mining Company) and his wife were living at Carr Bank, Mansfield. Their two daughters and youngest son, George, a civil engineering student, were still at home but Charles, a civil engineer (railway company), was living with his widowed uncle, John Smith, a colliery agent, in Lincolnshire. John Plowright and his wife later lived at Morley House, The Park, Mansfield. He died in November 1929 and his widow in May 1939. Charles' brother, George Herbert, enlisted on 5 August 1916 and was gazetted second lieutenant 3rd Bn Sherwood Foresters and later promoted lieutenant. George was seriously wounded by a high explosive shell near Ypres in June 1917 but survived the war.
Attended Queen Elizabeth School (May 1896 to Christmas 1896) and The Leys School, Cambridge (1901-1905). Attended the City & Guilds Technical College London for a three year course in civil engineering. 1911 - civil engineer (Great Central Railway) for whom he worked on the new docks at Immingham. Later employed by R Elliott Cooper on the new Mansfield railway.
12 Nov 1915
586108 - CWGC Website
Carr Bank, Mansfield
8th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
8th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment) Charles Morley Houfton enlisted on 5 August 1914 and was commissioned lieutenant on 7 September 1914 with the 2/8th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derbys) Regiment. He went to France 12 July 1915. Charles died in the early hours of the morning on 12 November 1915 after being shot in the head the previous day by a German sniper whilst examining advanced trenches near Vielle Chappelle, France. He was taken to a dressing station where he died without regainining consciousness. Apparently, a Sergeant Marlin stayed with him after he was admitted to the dressing station until he died. The battalion chaplain, Rev. Hales, conducted the service and wrote to Charles' parents: 'I laid your dear lad to rest at 1pm in a soldiers cemetery just outside the battalion headquarters ... plain white wooden cross like we have over all our brigade marks the spot.' Charles is buried in Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez (grave ref. XXVIII. B. 31). The history of the cemetery indicates that his grave was brought into the cemetery after the Armistice (see below). CWGC - History of Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery (extract): '"Caberet Rouge" was a small, red-bricked, red-tiled café that stood close to this site in the early days of the First World War. The café was destroyed by shellfire in March 1915 but it gave its unusual name to this sector and to a communication trench that led troops up the front-line. Commonwealth soldiers began burying their fallen comrades here in March 1916. The cemetery was used mostly by the 47th (London) Division and the Canadian Corps until August 1917 and by different fighting units until September 1918. It was greatly enlarged in the years after the war when as many as 7,000 graves were concentrated here from over 100 other cemeteries in the area.' (www.cwgc.org) 'The Sherwood Foresters in the Great War 1914-1919, 1/8th Battalion' (pp.100-101): 'It was towards the end of our first tour that we had the first of our happily few casualties in this area, Lieut. Houfton being killed early in the morning of November 11th (sic). He was endeavouring to make his way with Lieut. Abrams along an absolutely water-logged trench to 'Boar's Head', the extreme right of our Battalion sector, and they were evidently being carefully watched by a Boche sniper, who was doubtless able from time to time to catch a glimpse of their caps above the parapet. Eventually, when they got to a spot where the parapet was particularly low, he fired, the bullet killing Houfton, and passing through the peak of Abram's cap. Sergt. T Martin gallantly went to Houfton's aid across 400 yards of very difficult and exposed ground.'
Personal dedication on CWGC headstone: 'Until the day break and shadows flee away'. See T2T Roll of Honour records for 950 Pte Alfred Cook and 1199 Pte Oliver L Bryan 8th Bn Sherwood Foresters, both missing presumed killed 15 June 1915, and also Corporal Frank Godson 8th Bn Sherwood Foresters killed accidentally 16 July 1915. Lieutenant Houfton was a member of both Courts of Enquiry. Extract from the Mansfield Reporter and Sutton Times dated 24th September 1915: 'Lieutenant Charles Morley Houfton, left an account of his experiences in the Ypres Salient, including the fighting at Hooge which reads as follows:- “I will endeavour to describe what I have been doing during the past month. I was given “C” Company to take to the trenches as my captain had already gone on to prepare the way for us. Taking my place at the head of the men, and following the company in front, I managed to get on and find the way all right. We had about twelve miles to march, the last two of which were through a wood which was absolutely alive with stray bullets (I’ll explain why later), and they were whistling all round us, though, fortunately, they were nearly all high. We had one man hit in the leg, but not seriously. “It is simply marvellous how you are not hit. I was walking side by side with Sergt. Bert List, and one bullet passed between us about the height of our knees. The tendency is to duck at first, but after about ten minutes one gets used to it and takes no notice. Of course, I take no notice of bullets, but ‘shells’ ____. We arrived in the trench about 10.30 p.m., and an hour later I went to bed in my dug-out. Of course, by going to bed I really mean that I laid down in my clothes on the hard earth, and covered myself with a coat. Next morning we had all to get up and ‘stand-to’ on the alert for an attack. At three o’clock a huge sheet of flame suddenly leapt up in front of our trenches, 60 feet high and about half a mile in width. Somebody yelled, “The wood is on fire” – the trenches ran in and out of the trees in a wood – and what followed was a most terrifying ordeal, for we all thought the Huns were going to burn us out. “Terrific rifle and machine gun fire started, the artillery smashed at each other. I’ve never heard such a row in my life, and for the first two minutes I thought the whole British army was annihilated, and that my last hour had come. I really did not know whether I was killed, wounded or missing. I pulled myself together, and helped to get the reserve bombs and ammunition up, and began to join in the fun. About twelve Germans succeeded in entering our trench, but we drove them out, and several never got back alive. The liquid fire went out once, and as the Germans lit it again, we shot several more of them. “Although the fire had only lasted five minutes, this terrible gunfire went on for about a couple of hours, and although it was terribly nerve-wracking, and I thought I should not stand it long. I got through all right. “But what was happening on our left? We only just got on the right edge of the sheet of flame, but on our left a certain regiment received the full force of it, and their casualties were terrific. In the afternoon it was decided to open a counter-attack, so at three p.m. our artillery had a three-quarters of an hour bombardment of the lost trenches, and then the same regiment attacked again. “I went to bed that night, but could not sleep and on Saturday morning we had just stood to when the Germans sent up a frightful shower of flares, rifle fire, machine guns, trench mortars, bombs and grenades. We replied and then the noise was doubled. Next our artillery had a go, and I longed for home and beauty, but nobody was harmed so long as they kept their heads down. After that breaking-in I was given a platoon, and with murder in my eye I joined my men in the trench, but I am glad to say we have not been attacked since. “I am now allowed to relate where we are as the events are three weeks old. We were on the Ypres Salient, and a worse spot on the British front you cannot get. If you see a plan of the salient you will see that we get bullets from the front, from the sides, and from the rear. In some places the Germans are only 15 yards away, and for four days I had one of these portions. I believe, too, that this is the nearest part of the whole line to Berlin. The trenches are very puzzling at first, but you get to know the lie of the land in time. The trenches have local names to avoid confusion. “The trenches swarm with bluebottles, which get all over the food, and rats and mice come out at night. One night I was on a front trench and saw what I thought to be a hand moving on the parapet, and then disappear. I at once thought ‘Here’s a Hun coming over’ and decided to have a go. I pulled my pistol out, cocked it and waited with baited breath, deciding to grasp the hand with my left, and directly the face appeared to shoot it with my right; I grasped what appeared to be the hand, and there was a fleshy movement but the hand, or, rather the huge rat, ran away. Fancy mistaking a rat (it was nearly as big as a cat) for a Hun. “On Sunday, Aug. 8th, we were informed that an attempt was to be made to retake the trenches. Next day, at 2.45, the British guns opened fire on the German position and simply rained shell after shell into them. This was the biggest artillery bombardment that has ever been known in the world’s history, and I was close by and heard it. I can’t describe the noise; it was simply awful, thousands of shells – British and German – passing over us. At 3.45 the range was lengthened and the Sherwoods dashed forward. It was a complete victory. They retook all the trenches, and made many prisoners. This, of course, put us in a safe position once more. “In the attack the Germans were absolutely demoralised, and ran like made to the rear. The Sherwoods got all kinds of souvenirs. I saw one with a German bayonet which had an awful raw edge. The soldier had not chipped it. It was a proper saw blade manufactured in Germany, a beastly weapon. “This victory was correctly reported in the papers. Whenever the Germans lose anything they always counter-attack – not necessarily in the place of their defeat – so that the next two days we had to live in the trenches in case of attack. The strain was awful but for some reason there was no counter-attack, and even up to the time of writing we have been immune. “A week or so later the whole brigade left the salient amid great rejoicings, and were told to take over new trenches in five days’ time, so we were all to go out for a rest. I was just preparing to settle down to sleep for the first time in three days when on Sunday, I was told to proceed at once to the new trenches. They gave me the biggest horse they could find (which assumed a vertical position on its hinds legs if it met a mechanical vehicle), and they told me to follow some transport officers who were also going there. Well, we had a ride of twelve miles across the country, and we had some more glorious gallops. The country is grand for riding, and my mount was the speediest of the lot. I have not done much riding, but when one has to do a thing it’s got to be done. I made the horse go on the top gear nearly all the way, and never used the brake once.” The above extract is courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918 Mansfield Chronicle Advertiser, 23 September 1915, published a long letter to his mother. Mansfield Chronicle Advertiser, 18 November 1915 reported the death of Lieut C M Houfton, the eldest son of Councillor & Mrs J P Houfton of Carr Bank, Mansfield. Numerous letters were printed in the report. He had left a note to be read after his death, "If I die on the battlefield for my country - Glorious England - I shall be satisfied. God is with me always." A full transcript of the letter he wrote to be opened after his death, a letter from his father to his son George about his brother's death and a letter from the battalion chaplain, Rev. Hales, to his parents are published on: www.ourmansfieldandarea. The website also has a photograph of the four Houfton siblings. Mansfield Chronicle Advertiser, 13 July 1916, reported that C M Houfton's parents had presented an ambulance to the British Red Cross and St John's Ambulance in memory of their late son. Probate: Houfton Charles Morley of Carr Bank Mansfield Nottinghamshire lieutenant in HM Army died 12 November 1915 in France Administration (with Will) Nottingham 29 February to John Plowright Houfton mining engineer. Effects £851 15s. 10d.
Remembered on


  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone marking his grave at Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, Pas de Calais, France. Photograph Murray Biddle
    Charles Morley Houfton - Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone marking his grave at Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, Pas de Calais, France. Photograph Murray Biddle
  • Photograph of Charles Morley Houfton is courtesy of the Sherwood Foresters Regiment roll of honour website.
    Charles Morley Houfton - Photograph of Charles Morley Houfton is courtesy of the Sherwood Foresters Regiment roll of honour website.