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Charles Gent was born in Chorley on the 23rd December 1876 the youngest child of Edward and Ann Gent (nee Fairbrother). Charles` parents married on the 3rd July 1858 in St. Lawrence`s Church in Chorley and they went on to have at least another eight children; Joseph (1859), Elizabeth (1860), James (1861), Elizabeth Ann (1863), Esther (1866), Walter (1869), Thomas (1871) and Mary Ellen (1874).  Sadly, Charles` mother passed away in 1884 and on the 17th October 1887 his father Edward remarried to a widow Hannah Entwistle (nee Darbyshire) in St. Lawrence`s Church, Hannah`s husband Fergus Entwistle had also passed away in 1884.

In 1891 Charles was living with his father, stepmother and two of his siblings, Thomas and Mary Ellen in Bengal Street in Chorley. Also in the household was another girl Leah who had been born to Edward and Hannah Gent in 1889. Three of Hannah`s children from her first marriage were also present; Mary A., Eliza and Rachel Entwistle. Charles` father was a labourer and Charles` occupation was described as a `dodger` in the local bleach works.

On the 19th November 1896 Charles joined the Militia at Preston with the number 4390 serving with them for 49 days before enlisting into the King`s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment on the 4th February 1897, his service number then became 5288. Charles agreed to serve a term of 12 years (7 years with the Colours and 5 on Reserve) and was posted to the 2nd Battalion. His height was measured at just over 5`4” and his weight as 121lbs and he had blue eyes and brown hair. His distinguishing features were noted as a tattooed dot on his right forearm and a cross on his left forearm. Prior to enlisting he had been employed as a labourer and his home address was 38 Bengal Street.

Charles was still serving with the Regiment when he married Edith May Clarke at St. Michael`s Church in Flixton, Derbyshire on the 23rd April 1898. Later in the same year having served for 1 year and 292 days Charles purchased his own discharge for the sum of £18. Charles and Edith`s home was in the village of Blackrod near Bolton when their first child Herbert was born in 1900 and in 1901 their address was 73 Church Street, Blackrod, Charles was labouring in a paper mill at the time. A second child, Albert was born in Flixton, Derbyshire in 1902 after which the family moved to Chorley.

On the 23rd September 1903 an article appeared in the Preston Herald which suggested that all was not well within Charles` and Edith`s marriage, Edith had summoned Charles to court for desertion;

23rd September 1903 – Preston Herald

“WIFE DESERTION – Chas. Gent, dataller, was summoned for deserting his wife Edith – Complainant stated that she was married at Flixton in April 1898, and there were two children living. Defendant left her in June, and she did not see him again until Wednesday. He had pawned her wedding ring, and he had told her he had redeemed it, and another woman was wearing it. – PC Crawford stated that defendant had told him he should not answer the summons. The Bench granted a separation with 10s a week and custody of the children”

By 1905 the couple seem to have been reunited and a son Eli Clarke Gent was born that year but sadly he died not long afterwards. He was followed by Doris May (1906), Phillip Edward (1908) and Charles (1910). In 1911 Charles was labouring for Chorley Corporation and was living with his family at 3 Back Pall Mall Street in Chorley and then the following year another daughter Nellie was born.

On the 3rd August 1914 Charles joined the 4th Battalion Territorial Force of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment at Chorley agreeing to serve a term of four years, he was thirty eight and a half years old at the time. Charles sailed to France with the 1/4th Battalion on the 4th May 1915. According to later information he was wounded in the head in March 1916 and as a result was shipped back to England on the 8th April 1916 for treatment. From the information available it seems that Charles never returned to France and at some point later he was stationed in Blackpool.

On the 6th January 1917 the Lancashire Evening Post published an article stating that Charles had been awarded the Military Medal for gallantry;

“Private Charles Gent, LNL Regt., whose home is at 23 Pall Mall, Chorley, has been awarded the MM for gallantry. He joined the Chorley TF on the outbreak of war. A letter has this week been received from Colonel Hindle congratulating him on the distinction gained. Pte. Gent had formally served in the King`s Own was wounded in the head in March last. He is now stationed at Blackpool”.

Charles remained with the Regiment until the 15th February 1918 when he was transferred to the Royal Flying Corps which on 1st April 1918 became the Royal Air Force. By the 19th February 1919 he had been transferred to the RAF Reserve and then on the 30th April 1920 he was finally `deemed` discharged. In 1920 Edith gave birth to the couples` ninth and final child and they named her Doreen.

For his war service, as well as his Military Medal, Charles was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

In 1939 Charles and Edith were still living in Pall Mall in Chorley at number 149 and Charles was employed as a labourer at the motor works. Three of the couples` daughters, all married, were also living with their parents; Nellie (Holding), Doreen (Collinson) and Doris May (Hatch).

Charles passed away on the 4th July 1942 aged 65 years and was buried in Chorley Cemetery, his gravestone acknowledging his Military Medal and also his connection to the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. Edith passed away eleven years later in 1951 and was buried with her husband.

Chorley Cemetery

Janet Davis
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