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Charles Rowett was born in Preston in 1892, the son of Charles and Ada Ann Rowett (nee Harrison). Charles Snr. was originally from Minting in Lincolnshire and had moved to Preston in the 1880`s where he met Ada Ann Harrison, the couple married on the 14th July 1888 at St. Andrew`s Church in Ashton on Ribble. Charles Jnr. was one of eight children, six of whom survived; Mary Jane (1890), John (1893), Arthur (1897), Fanny (1901), Eliza (1912).

After their marriage Charles` parents moved into 14 Beverley Street in Preston and by 1901 the family was still in Beverley Street but now living at number 45. Charles Rowett Snr. was working as a labourer on Preston Docks.

When the 1911 Census came along Charles` parents were still living in Beverley Street but Charles had moved out of the family home and was living at 20 West Street in Lancaster. He was lodging with the Clough family who were also from Preston and he was employed as a railway engine cleaner.

Charles attested into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on the 11th November 1914 and was given the service number 3280 (later renumbered 201027) and was posted to the Reserve. His medical inspection states that he was 23 years and 9 months of age and five feet eight and a half inches tall. His chest measurement was 36” and he had good eyesight and was in good physical condition. His home address at the time was 45 Beverley Street and he was employed as a labourer on Preston Docks. On the 25th June 1915 he was mobilised and posted to the 42nd Provisional Training Battalion.

In the December quarter of 1915 he married Sarah Ellen Richardson at Emmanuel Church in Preston. Charles remained with the training battalion until 27th February 1916 and was then posted to the 3/4th (Reserve) Battalion. He embarked for France on the 3rd June 1916, sailing from Southampton to Le Havre with a batch of reinforcements. After spending a couple of weeks at the 55th Division Base Depot Charles was posted to the 1/4th Battalion, joining them in the field on the 18th June 1916 as a member of “B” Coy. In July (11/7/16 – 13/7/16) Charles was out of the line suffering with rheumatism and then on the 15th September 1916 he went on `Control Duty` only re-joining the Battalion on the 25th November 1916.

In the December quarter of 1916 Charles` wife Sarah Ellen gave birth to the couples` only child, a daughter and she named her Charlotte Mildred (1916-2012).

Charles went on 55th Division Control Post duty again on the 24th February 1917 but was back with the Battalion by the 18th March and then the following month he was admitted to a field ambulance unit suffering with scabies. He had only been back with the Battalion for five days when on the 10th May 1917 he was sent for duty with the 183rd Tunnelling Company, returning to the Battalion on the 26th June 1917.

Sadly, Charles was posted missing after an attack on the 31st July 1917, the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele).

“At 03:30hrs on 31st July 1917 the British opened up a heavy artillery barrage on the enemy. Later, the 1/4th Bn part of the 164th Brigade were tasked to seize and secure the Gheluvelt-Langemarck line.

Midway into their advance towards the objective, casualties began to get particularly heavy, owing to enemy sniper fire, machine-gun fire and shelling from two sides. A number of Officers had also been killed. The Battalion continued to push forward and succeeded in securing their objective by 11:40hrs. The line was held up until around 14:30hrs, until the enemy successfully counter-attacked and forced the Brigade to fall back.

Casualties had been high, just over 50 men from the 1/4th Bn killed; and another 250 men were wounded or missing during the attack”.

Eventually the Authorities finally concluded that Charles was presumed to have died on or since 31st July 1917 and after being informed his widow Sarah Ellen posted news in the Preston Guardian;

None of Charles` personal effects were returned to Sarah Ellen. She was later awarded a pension of 18s/9d (83 pence in today`s money) for herself and her daughter, effective from 25th March 1918.

Sarah Ellen later received the British War and Victory Medals that her late husband was entitled to. She would also receive his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

As Charles` body was never recovered from the battlefield his name was later added to the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial to the Missing.

Charles is also commemorated on the Preston Roll of Honour which is inside the Harris Museum and Library in Preston.

Original submission form used to add Charles’ name to the Harris Museum Roll of Honour.

In 1920 Sarah Ellen Rowett remarried to Matthew Catterall in St. Peter`s Church in Preston.

Rank: Private
Service No: 201027
Date of Death: 31/07/1917
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, ‘B Coy’ 1st/4th Bn.

Additional family information

Charles` younger brother John also served in WW1, initially with the 4th Battalion LNL as 24770 Private John Rowett. He attested on the 4th December 1915 and was posted to the Reserve. Mobilised 13th June 1916 and posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion. John was then posted to the 9th Battalion East Lancashire Regiment on 4th November 1916 (service number 35011) and sailed out to Salonika to join them. He spent almost two years with the 9th Battalion before returning back to the UK suffering from malaria on the 4th March 1918. On his return he was posted to the 11th Battalion E/Lancs Regt. before finally joining the Labour Corps in July 1918 (service number 568970). He was demobilised and discharged on the 9th February 1919.

Ron Crowe
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