Private Charles James RAWLINSON


Regiment/Service:
Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
Unit:
"C" Company, 6th Battalion
Service Number:
18636
Date of Death:
22 August 1917 - Killed in Action
Age:
26
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Reference:
XLVII. D. 6.


Personal History:

Charles was born in the December quarter 1890, the son of Frederick (Costermonger) and Maria (née Whiff) Rawlinson. In 1901 (Census RG 13/321) the family were living at 4 Claydens Buildings, Limehouse. Charles had an older brother, George, and two younger sisters, Sarah and Eleanor.
On the 25th December 1912 Charles married Louisa Maud Payne at St Anne's Church, Limehouse and they lived at 50 Gill Street, Limehouse, London. Louisa lived until 7 July 1954 and is buried in the Southern Cemetery, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester.

Census details for Charles and his family are rather sparse. Also, his link to Buxton had no been established, although there was a "Rawlinson" family living in Fairfield in 1911 (Census RG 14/21235) - see 'John Rawlinson'.

Military History:
Charles enlisted into the 6th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, in Poplar, London and his Medal Index Card shows that he was posted to France on the 3rd August 1915. Comparison with other Service Numbers suggest that Charles enlisted about the 28th February 1915.  Unfortunately, his Service Papers have not survived the ravages of Second Worl War bombing.

In August 1914 the 6th (Service) Battalion was formed at Bodmin as part of K1 (Kitcheners First New Army) and came under command of the 43rd Brigade in the 14th (Light) Division. They moved to Aldershot but by November 1914 had moved on to Witley, before moving back to Aldershot in February 1915. It was about this time that Charles enlisted. The Battalion was posted to France and landed at Boulogne on the 22nd May 1915 so Charles must have joined as a reinforcement after training.

During 1915 Charles' 14th Division took part in The Second Attack on Bellewaarde (24th - 25th May), followed by The Action of Hooge, on the 2nd June 1915, in which the Division had the misfortune to be the first to be attacked by flamethrower.

The Battalion's Adjutant, Lieutenant R. C. Blagrove (killed in action on the 12th August 1915) wrote to his commanding officer, Colonel Stokoe, who had been wounded a few days earlier, describing the 6th Battalion's task to secure the front in the northern fringes of Sanctuary and Zouave Woods. He wrote:

"They lined Zouave Wood and held it. They were grand, and nothing could move them. At dusk (of 30th July) the battle ended for a while. The Germans lined the high ground facing us, and completely commanded us at about 300 yards. We were really in an impossible position, but were ordered to hold on at all costs.

At about 2 am next morning in the dark the Germans tried to bomb us out of the two trenches leading from us to them (old communication trenches). The artillery on both sides opened rapid fire, the din was awful. The Germans then used liquid fire but fortunately failed to get any into the trenches. Our men were dropping in all directions, and I am grieved to say the following officers were killed - Aston, Hulton-Sams, Challoner, Birch and the Doctor (McCallum). The only thing that will comfort you (and which does comfort those of us who survive) is that our men were glorious and, even though the Durhams fell back on our left, they held their ground. We were in this woeful position all the following day - the 31st - and were crumped from three directions all the time. We had no food or water for forty-eight hours.

One incident I must tell you. When they used some liquid fire some of C Company (whose officers and NCOs were all knocked out) broke from about 30 yards of front and fell back (small blame to them). The machine-gunners (under Sergeant Silver) who were just in the rear, yelled to them that if they did not go back to the line they would open fire on them and that the 6th Cornwall's were going to "bloody well stick it". So the few men of C Company re-occupied their line of trench."

The Battalion lost 50 men either killed in action or died of wounds as a result of this action. No doubt Charles was rushed to the front as part of the replacement for these losses. During The Battle of the Somme, which began on the 1st July 1916, Charles would have been action in two specific actions - The Battle of Delville Wood, 15th July - 3rd September, and The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, 15th - 22nd September. The following year he was again in action at The Battle of Arras, in particular The First Battle of the Scarpe, (9th - 14th April 1917) and The Second Battle of the Scarpe (23rd - 24th April 1917).

The Battle of Third Ypres began on 31st July 1917. On the 16th August The Battle of Langemarck began, lasting three days. There was an attack on a nine-mile front north of Ypres-Menin road, crossing Steenbeek River, in which the Division captured all its objectives. The British captured Langemarck, and established positions half a mile beyond the town, on high ground north of the Menin Road. However, the German army countered and pressed the British back from the ground they had won earlier in the day. Although it was high summer, the British attack took place in an endless landscape of deep mud, rain filled and slimy shell holes, and the unnaturally broad waters of the Steenbeek.

In addition to Charles 115 Officers and men are recorded as having been killed or died of wounds between the 16th and 23rd August 1917. Charles is now buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery with another 99 of his comrades, but may have been moved there after The Armistice.


                               

Footnote:
· Charles is the only man on the Buxton Memorial from the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. Perhaps the most
notable member of that Regiment in  recent years has been Henry John "Harry" Patch (17 June 1898 – 25 July
2009), known in his latter years as "The Last Fighting Tommy", who was a British supercentenarian, briefly
the oldest man in Europe, and the last surviving soldier to have fought in the trenches of the First World War.

· Harry Patch also took part in the Battle of Langemarck serving with the 7th Battalion, D.C.L.I. In 2008, at the
age of 110, he travelled to Ypres to take part in various ceremonies, which included signing a map of the Ypres
battlefield where he fought on 16 August 1917.

Commemorated on:
Link to CWGC Record
Charles Rawlinson's Grave
The Harry Patch memorial
The Harry Patch Memorial
The memorial stands on the place where Harry crossed the Steenbeek on 16 August 1917
poppy
about the Battle of Langemarck