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Charles Frederick Aldridge was born in 1889 in Whittingham Street in Preston to Thomas and Elizabeth Aldridge (nee Nutter). Charles` parents were married in St. Mark`s Church in Preston on 29 February, 1880. Elizabeth was from Preston but Thomas Aldridge came from Harmondsworth in Middlesex and on their marriage record Thomas states that his occupation was a soldier.

Charles had three brothers and three sisters, Sarah Jane (1880), William James (1884), Thomas (1887), Florence (1892), Albert (1895) and Lilian (1900).

By 1911 Charles` father had passed away and his mother was the head of the household at 103 Victoria Street in Preston. Daughters Florence and Lilian and son Albert were with her and she also had a granddaughter two year old Mary Elizabeth Aldridge staying in the house. Elizabeth had also taken in two boarders, Joseph Aldridge a railway worker who was her brother in law and James Hall a married chap who was working as a cabman.

In 1911 Charles isn`t listed as an occupant at his mother`s house in Victoria Street, he was actually on the coal barge the “Kendal” which was moored in the wharf down on the canal in Preston and he was using his middle name of Fred. The Master or Captain of the barge was Francis Woodburn who was just twelve months older than Charles.

Prior to his enlistment Charles had left his job on the canal and had gone to work in the iron foundry at Dick Kerr`s Works on Strand Road in Preston.

Aldridge1

Unfortunately Charles` service papers do not appear to have survived so we cannot be certain when he enlisted but it is likely to have been in the September/October of 1914. He was initially allocated the number 2644 and was posted to “C” Coy of the 1/4th Battalion.

After a few months of training Charles sailed for France on the 4th May, 1915 with the 1/4th Battalion.

During the Battalion actions in and around Guillemont on the 8 August, 1916 Charles was posted missing but no doubt to the great relief of his family he was later found to be a prisoner of war.

The following article was published a short while later in the Preston Guardian.

Aldridge2

Battalion account of the actions 8 August, 1916

“After a night in bivouacs, preparations were made to go over the ground prior to an attack on GUILLEMONT on the 8th. The Battalion returned to the line that night and assembled in trenches east and west of the road which ran south from the corner of TRONES WOOD, C Company being detailed to consolidate the right of the enemy line and D Company the left on the west side of GUILLEMONT. A and B Companies acted in conjunction with the 1/4th Royal Lancasters and the 1/8th Liverpool Regiments respectively. The attack was not a success. The right was held up from the start by the switch line which had not been reported by our patrol on the 6th, such report having been either overlooked or ignored, and the men had to fall back to the original line, though the 1/8th Liverpools went through the village on the left and D Company of our Battalion commenced to consolidate, but were driven off by the enemy coming behind them and cutting them off from the Liverpools.

Considerable confusion was caused owing to the mist and the employment by the enemy of smoke bombs, the four platoons in reserve not being called upon for this reason, though all their Officers were killed and they suffered many other casualties. The operation was a costly one. Nine other ranks were killed, 97 wounded and 107 reported missing ; whilst of the Officers, Captain E.M. Rennard and Captain H Lindsay were killed, Second Lieutenants O.H. Ducksbury and J.H. Holden missing (afterwards found to be prisoners of war), and Lieutenants De Blaby and A.T.D. Evans and Second Lieutenants E.L. Fairclough and T.A. Bigger wounded. Lieutenant De Blaby died the following day”

The Red Cross Prisoner of War Records show that by 30 August, 1916 Charles was a prisoner in Dulmen POW Camp in Germany. There are no further details in the record to say whether he remained at Dulmen or whether he was moved around as so many prisoners were.

In January 1917 the service numbers were changed and so Charles` army number then became 200665 while he was still a prisoner of war.

The only other document relating to his prisoner of war status refers to his repatriation back home. Charles arrived in Leith in Edinburgh on the 1 December, 1918 on board the “SS Russ” a Danish vessel which was being used to bring prisoners of war back home.

Charles had been back home for about eight months when he married Alice Francis on the 14 July, 1919 in St. Peter`s Church in Preston. Alice was about six years younger than Charles and was a war widow. At the time of their marriage Charles was working as a labourer and his address was still at 114 Victoria Street in Preston.

For his services to his country Charles was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals and he died in Preston in 1984 at the grand old age of 95.

Author`s note

Alice`s maiden name was Fazackerley and her first husband was Walter Francis. Alice married Walter on the 19 October, 1912 in St. Peter`s Church in Preston. They had two sons, Richard was born in 1913 and Walter in 1915. Walter also enlisted and was 201031 Private Walter Francis 2/4th Bn LNL and he died in the Auxiliary Hospital in Kendal on 9 June, 1918, death being due to gas poisoning. His body was returned to Preston and he was buried in a CWGC grave in Preston Old Cemetery.

Janet Davis

Janet Davis

Janet Davis has been researching her family history for many years and through this she discovered many relatives who served in WW1. This interest then led Janet to do many walking the battlefield tours with her husband. In April 2013 she discovered this website and volunteered to help. Janet believes that there are lots of stories still to be told, most of them very sad but at the same time they are a fascinating insight into the men, their families, what they did and where they came from.
Janet Davis

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