Private 8072 Richard Elson Charnell

 Charnell Richard 96 454x600

Killed in Action on Monday, 26th October 1914, age 25.
Buried in Grave V. B. 9. at Zantvoorde British Cemetery, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

1st Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 22nd Brigade of 7th Division.

Husband of Mrs Alice Charnell, of 60, Upper Church Lane, Summer Hill, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Birmingham, Enlisted: Sedgley, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 4th October 1914.
Medal entitlement: 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library, and St. John's memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/160281/

Genealogical Data

Richard Charnell was born 12 May 1889 at Erdington. Christened at Tipton.

1901 Census
56 Upper Church Lane, Tipton, Staffs.
Stephen Charnell (48, Railway Station Master, born Bulkington, Warks), his wife Emma (51, born Tamworth), and their 4 children: Thomas (19, Railway Booking Clerk, born Erdington), William (14, Range Fitter, born Birmingham), Richard Charnell (11, born Birmingham), and Dorothy Charnell (16, born Birmingham).

Marriage of Richard Charnell and Alice Cresswell at St John's Church Tipton in June Quarter 1910. Their only child, Richard Elson Charnell, was born 1911 in Tipton.

1911 Census
South Barracks, Gibraltar
Richard Elson Charnell (20, Married, Infantry Private, born Birmingham).

1911 Census
60 Upper Church Lane, Tipton, Staffs.
Alice Charnell (22, Married, born Tipton), and her son Richard Elson Charnell (4 months, born Tipton) living with Alice's widowed mother Mary Ann Cresswell (63, born Tipton).

Personal Data

After Richard's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £8/4/1d (8 pounds, 4 shillings and 1 penny); in July 1915 this was paid with £2/14/9d to his widow, Alice, and £5/9/4d to his son, RIchard. His War Gratuity was £5/0/0d (5 pounds exactly), this was paid to his widow, Alice, in August 1919. Richard had been a serving soldier for 4 years at the time of his death.

Action resulting in his death

In August 1914 the 1st Battalion South Staffs were in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. They were ordered to return to England, landing in Southampton on 19th September 1914. They were attached to the 22nd Brigade in 7th Division, and moved to Lyndhurst where the Division was being formed. In early October 1914 they landed at Zeebrugge, Belgium where they were to see action almost immediately in the Ypres Salient.

The South Staffs were in the thick of the 1st Battle of Ypres in which the British Expeditionary Force suffered 50,000 casualties between 18 October and 18 November. Day after day, the British were attacked and day after day they repulsed the Germans. On the morning of 26 October, the 1st South Staffs and 2nd Border Regiments were hit by both German and British artillery fire as they lay, shallowly entrenched, in a field between Zantvoorde and Kruiseeke.

The War Diary says: "The 25th and 26th of October were the most trying days the Battalion had seen during the campaign to date. The Germans had been pressing hard all day to push through our very weak trenches, which had been very much reduced by fearful shell and rifle fire."

Casualty figures are confusing. The War Diary reports that on the 25th and 26th October about 80 men killed and 360 wounded or taken prisoner, whereas SDGW shows 20 men killed. In the confusion of these days, accurate record keeping was not the most pressing concern. SDGW show 236 men of the 1st South Staffs killed between 20th October and 19th November, with approximately twice this number wounded, it would have been a minority who came through unscathed.

Richard Charnell is reported as killed on the 26th October, and unlike most of his comrades killed around this time who have no known grave, he is buried at Zantvoorde British Cemetery.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 20th February 1915
News has been received of the death of Private Richard E. Charnell, whose wife resides at 60, Upper Church Lane, Summerhill, Tipton.
His regimental number was 8072, and he had served for four years in the 1st Battalion South Staffs Regt., being quartered at Gibraltar and South Africa. He was only 25 years of age. The announcement of his death received from the War Office states that he was killed in action at the front on October 26th, at a place unknown. He leaves a widow and one child.