Private, Worcestershire Regiment, 14th Bn.
Service No. 26775
Died on 19 September 1918, aged about 28
Remembered at Bac-Du-Sud British Cemetery, Bailleulval, Pas de Calais, France
Chris Burge writes:
Charles Rhodes was born in 1890 and baptised as Charles Ernest at St Peter’s Church, Norbiton in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey on 29 October 1890, when his family was living in nearby Washington Road. The 1891 census shows Charles to be the second youngest of Henry and Rossetta’s seven children. Charles’s mother died in January 1894 at the age of 34 and he lost his older sister, also named Rossetta, who died in 1899 aged 16. Charles’s widowed father Henry and four of the children were still living at Washington Road at the time of the 1901 census: Kate Louisa, 20; Frederick, 15, a van boy; Charles, 13, an errand boy; and schoolboy Frank, 11. Kate had helped bring up her younger brothers and effectively became the head of the family when Charles’s father died in the middle of 1901, aged 43.
By the time of the 1911 census, Kate was living in Battersea and working as a general domestic servant. Frank had found work as a groom in Patcham, near Brighton. Frederick and Charles were living in one room at 12 Kimpton Road, close to Camberwell Green in southeast London. The property housed six other people in five additional rooms. Charles, now aged 22, was working as a carman for a ‘Fruiterers & Greengrocers’. Frederick, aged 25, completed the census return, giving his own occupation as ‘soldier’ and describing himself as ‘boarder’ which was later changed to ‘head’ of household.
Charles married Ellen Butler on 15 February 1914 at St Andrew’s, Stockwell Green, opposite Hammerton’s Stockwell Brewery. Ellen had grown up in Stockwell Green and had been working as a domestic servant before her marriage. Frederick was one of the witnesses at the wedding and the couple gave 9 Moat Place as their address. Their daughter Ellen Rose was born on the 23 June 1914 and baptised on 19 August 1914 at St Andrew’s, just two weeks after the outbreak of war when Charles and Ellen were living in Louth Road.
Charles Rhodes’ service number and war gratuity imply an enlistment around December 1915, under Lord Derby’s Group Scheme. He was probably called up some time between January and March 1916. He may not have been considered A1 fit and was either posted initially to the Worcestershire Regiment’s 1st (Reserve) Garrison Battalion or directly to the ‘Severn Valley Pioneers’, the 14th (Service) Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment. The battalion landed at Le Havre on the 21 June 1916. They were on the Somme between July and November 1916, at Arras in April 1917, again on the Somme March to August 1918, and near the Hindenburg Line between September and October 1918. The battalion often worked close to the front line and acted as infantry during the fighting when the 63rd Division were forced to retreat across the old desolate Somme battlefields in March 1918.
Charles Rhodes’ death in September 1918 was not combat-related and he was buried at Bac-Du-Sud British Cemetery at Bailleulval where a number of Casualty Clearing Stations were based.
Charles’s Ellen and her daughter Ellen Rose were still living in Moat Place when Ellen Rose married William Crease in 1938. Three years later, Ellen married for a second time in 1941. She passed away in 1967, aged 72. Ellen Crease passed away in May 1971, aged 56.