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  • Buried in Vailly British Cemetery, France. (www.cwgc.org)
Person Details
Meadows Nottingham
Ernest Albert was the son of Charles Allen CHARLES and his wife Louisa Rebecca (née Maltby). His father Charles was born in Grantham and his mother Louisa in Nottingham. They were married at Nottingham St Thomas in December 1877 and had four children, one of whom died young: Francis William b. 1878, Eliza Ann b. 1880 d. 1886, John Henry b. 1886 and Ernest Albert b. 1888. Charles, a lace maker, his wife and their two children, Francis and Eliza, were living in Holland Yard, Nottingham in 1881. Eliza died five years later. By 1891 the family had moved to Ernest Terrace, Crocus Street, Meadows, and then in 1901 were recorded on the Census at 14 Garden Street, Radford. Of the three sons, the two eldest were in work, Francis a cordwainer and John a bookbinder. Charles and Louisa were living on Denman Street, Radford, when John Henry attested in the Militia in 1905. Charles died in 1910 and in 1911 his wife, Louisa, who was working for a book binder company, was living at 63 Wollaton Road, Nottingham, with her seven year old granddaughter, May Charles (b. 1903 A/M/J) and her son Ernest, a window cleaner. Louisa included the information on the census form that her son had been married for one year and had one child. However, the only potential record of marriage is in 1910 (J/F/M Nottm) for an Ernest Albert Charles to Fanny Keward or Annie Broadhead; neither name (surname Charles) has yet been traced on the 1911 census nor the registration of a birth Charles/Keward or Broadhead in the same period. It is possible that Louisa's granddaughter, May, was the daughter of her eldest son, Francis. He had married Arabella Elizabeth Antill in 1901 who died two years later in 1903 (A/M/J). Unfortunately, the registration of May's birth does not give the maiden name of her mother. Francis married secondly Mabel May Saxton in 1908. Although Francis has not yet been traced on the 1911 Census, his wife was recorded living with her parents on Brixton Road, Nottingham, with their three children: Florence Ethel (b. 1908), Constance (b. 1909 d. 1919) and Louis (b. 1911 d. 1911). They had three more children, Frank (b. 1914), Arthur (b. 1915) and Alan (b. 1919). John Henry had married Annie Beatrice Hibbert in 1907 and in 1911 they were living at Burgass Terrace, Nottingham, with their son John; a daughter, Annie, had died in infancy. Ernest Albert married Lillian Cooper (née Needham) in October 1912 and their only child, Harold Francis, was born on 20 March 1913. Lililan's husband, Ernest Herbert Cooper (m. 1902) had died in 1908 leaving her with four children, Florence, Ernest, Selina and Leslie. Following Ernest's death, Lillian was awarded a pension for herself and their son and a further amount for her children by her first marriage. Their son Harold served in the Royal Artillery and died in 1940 (see 'Extra information'). Ernest's mother, Louisa, died on 9 March 1927, she was living at 50 Garden Street, Radford. Ernest's brothers also served in the war. Francis William enlisted on 19 June 1915 and served in the 17th Bn Sherwood Foresters (27514 Private). He was discharged aged 40 on 26 March 1918 having been wounded in action ('shell shock'). He was issued with Silver War Badge No. 343447 on 4 May 1918 and qualified for the British War Medal and Victory Medal. He and his wife were probably not living together by the time of the 1921 Census. Mabel, with three of her sons, was recorded living in Nottingham on the 1939 England and Wales Register. However, it is likely that Francis, a bootmaker, was a patient at the Ministry of Pensions Hospital in Chepstow, Monmouthshire. He died in 1963 (reg. Chepstow). John Henry attested in the Militia on 13 April 1905 age 19 years 10 months, address 19 Garden Street, and served in the 4th Bn Notts & Derby Regiment (790 Private). On 14 June 1908 he joined the Special Reserve. He served in France from 28 November 1914 with the Liverpool Regiment (13094 Private) then with the Labour Corps (267710 Lance Corporal). He was discharged on 27 April 1919. He and his wife continued to live in Nottingham; he died in 1958.
1904 - lace hand. 1906 - bobbin maker. 1911 - window cleaner.
11 Oct 1914
578356 - CWGC Website
42395
1904 - 12 Garden Street, Radford. Enlisted Nottingham.
Driver
Royal Field Artillery
49th Bty. 40th Bde, Royal Field Artillery. The Brigade was mobilised in August 1914 and was attached to 3rd Infantry Division. Ernest attested on a 12 year service engagement (9 years with the Colours, 3 years Reserve) on 1 December 1904, claiming to be 18 years 6 months old (dob. 1888). His preferred regiment was the Munster Fusiliers but he was transferred on 2 December under para 131 Recruiting Regulations to the Notts and Derby Regiment (9649 Private) . Ernest was discharged on 17 December 1904 'having made a misstatement as to age on enlistment. Authority 1805 (vi) KRR.' Ernest then attested on a Short Service Engagement (3 years with the Colours, 9 years Reserve) in the RHA/RFA on 30 March 1906, aged 18 years 4 months. He declared he was serving in the Militia and also that he had served with the 4th Bn Sherwood Foresters (presumably the attestated dated 1904). He joined the RHA/RFA and presumably completed his initial period of three years with the Colours, which was served at home, as by 1911 he was back in Nottingham and working as a window cleaner. Ernest was mobilised on 5 August 1914 (42395 Driver) and served in France. Although the CWGC record and other military records give his date of death as 11 October 1914, there is a report in his service documents that he was reported missing on 14 September 1914 (authority illegible), that he was killed in action (date unknown), and 'found and buried by 11th Company RE [Royal Engineers]. Buried at Pont Arcy near the station by the canal.' The record on the Registers of Soldiers' Effects also gave his date of death as 14 September. However, an undated entry on his service record gave his burial place as 'Vailly British Cemetery between 7 and 8 miles east of Soissons'. The cemetery was established after the Armistice so Ernest's grave had been identified and brought into the cemetery (grave ref. II. F. 2). He qualified for the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. CWGC - History of Vailly British Cemetery (extract): 'The village of Vailly-sur-Aisne was the point at which the 3rd Division crossed the river Aisne on 13 and 14 September 1914 during the Allied advance from the Marne. It fell to the German forces in 1915, was retaken by the French during the Chemin des Dames Offensive in April 1917, lost again to the Germans in June 1918 and finally captured by the French on 15 September 1918. Vailly British Cemetery was established after the Armistice when the remains of Commonwealth soldiers were brought here from other burial grounds and battlefields throughout the region [burial grounds/battlefields listed]' (www.cwgc.org) 'The first day of the Battle of the Aisne': 'Following the Allied victory at the Battle of the Marne in mid-September 1914, the German forces retreated to the high ground of the Chemin des Dames ridge on the north bank of the River Aisne. As they moved northward, the Germans were closely pursued by units of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and their French allies. The first British troops crossed the Aisne at Venizel on the evening of 12 September, and Allied units crossed at different points along the river over the course of the next day. The Royal Scots and Royal Irish regiments made their way over the remains of the bridge at Vailly-sur-Aisne, under steady shellfire, on the afternoon of the 13th. By the early hours of the following morning British and French troops had formed bridgeheads at several points on the north bank of the river and were preparing to attack. The Allied intention was to advance north toward Laon, capture the heights, and force the German armies to continue their retreat. Allied commanders were unaware of the real strength of the enemy forces on the Chemin des Dames ridge, but it soon became clear that the German units had dug trenches, were supported by heavy artillery, and intended to stand and fight. 'In heavy rain and dense mist, brigades of the 1st and 2nd Divisions of the BEF began advancing toward the German lines between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. on the morning of 14 September. They had hoped to seize as much enemy ground as possible before day break, but despite some early successes German resistance was determined and by 7 a.m. British troops were coming under heavy rifle, machine-gun and artillery fire. Thick fog, combined with the sheer number of units deployed and the unexpected strength of the German forces, caused much confusion on the battlefield. The British battle plan was also frustrated by the unexpectedly accurate fire of German howitzers on the heights. As the day wore on, the battle descended into a series of attacks and counter-attacks and both sides suffered heavy casualties. 'By nightfall on 14 September, British units on the north bank of the river had been ordered to dig trenches and reinforce their positions, which now spanned a twenty-mile front. Although the Battle of the Aisne continued for another ten days, neither side could claim a decisive victory; the German forces failing to drive the Allies back across the river, and the Allies unable to push the Germans from the ridge. This ‘stabilization’ of the front marked the beginning of trench warfare – a gruelling stalemate that would last for almost four years.' (www.cwgc.org)
Ernest's son, Harold Francis CHARLES, served in in 112 Battery 28 Lt. AA Regt. Royal Artillery (1524529 Gunner). He died agd 27 on 2 October 1940 (reg. Nottingham) and is buried in Nottingham Southern Cemetery (CWGC 2703384). Harold married Dorothy May Odell in 1938 and their daughter, Mavis, was born in 1941 (J/A/S Nottingham) but died the following year. Registers of Soldiers' Effects: Date of death 14 September 1914. His mother Louisa Rebecca was his legatee. RHA/RFA records Woolwich, wrote to Louisa in April 1921 to confirm her address (50 Garden Street, New Radford) so that her son's personal property could be returned to her. WW1 Pension Ledgers: Dependents widow Lillian, child Harold Francis and stepchildren Florence Lillian Cooper, Ernest Clarence Cooper and Selina Mary Cooper [also Leslie Cooper]. The army service record shows that Lillian provided copies of certificates of her two marriages and the children's birth certificates and was awarded a pension of 15 shillings a week for herself and one child (Harold) and 7/6d a week ('temporary' ... document illegible) for four stepchildren. Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Deaths’, 9 March 1927: ‘Charles. Suddenly, at 50 Garden-street, Radford, Louisa Rebecca, age 68. Interment Bulwell, 12 o’clock. John, Annie, and family. (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Deaths’, 10 March 1927: ‘Charles. March 9th, Louisa, beloved grandma of May, passed peacefully away.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)
Remembered on

Photos

  • Buried in Vailly British Cemetery, France. (www.cwgc.org)
    Ernest Albert Charles - Buried in Vailly British Cemetery, France. (www.cwgc.org)