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grognet.Charles Grognet was born in Bolton 15th August 1889 the son of Charles Grognet snr a former R.A. soldier (1861-82) from Macclesfield and Harriet nee Gilbert from Rye, Sussex they lived at 71 Parrot Street, Bolton with older sisters Sarah Helen and Lily. The father died aged 49 years in 1891. His paternal grandfather Severin Grognet was born in France during the Napoleonic period of 1808.

His mother remarried in 1899 and became Mrs Andrew Cawfield although she wrote Caulfield in her letters and in the 1901 census the Cawfield family all lived at 109 Rupert Street, Bolton. Charles was now eleven years old and had a younger sister named Florence who was eight, there were six other children in this household. According to the 1911 census Charles 21 is a side piecer in the local cotton mill of Mr John Bayley and sons, Persian Mill, Gaskell Street, Halliwell and resides as a boarder at his sister’s marital home at 36 Raphael Street, Halliwell. The Cawfield family by this time were living in Settle Street, Great Lever but his mother is not shown on this census return.

On the outbreak of war Charles enlists into the Territorial Force on 31st October 1914 and was given the number 3141 (which became 241173 when the TF were numbered in 1917). After training he was sent to France on 27th June 1915. He was promoted to unpaid L/Cpl on 1st March 1917 and paid from 23rd June. He was acting Cpl from 23rd August and made substantive on 20th September 1917. It was on this latter date that Cpl Grognet was awarded the Military Medal during the Battle of Menin Road, Ypres.

 At a recent 2016 London auction of his MM 1915 Star trio medal group it was stated that the MM was gained

“During an attack on enemy positions on 20th inst ( 20th September 1917) and the following two days he displayed conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He attended the wounded at an advanced post under the most adverse circumstances, the post being in the enemy barrage zone and owing to snipers the wounded could not be taken away by day. His untiring energy in looking after their wants was most inspiring and encouraging to those at this post, for their casualties were very heavy”.

On 30th September 1917 he was reported ‘missing’  at Cambrai and was only accepted  a prisoner of war on 30th January 1918 and was initially  sent to the Dulmen camp eventually held at Parchim POW camp in Germany. He is shown as Corporal ‘A’ Co 5th LNL Regt, and remained there for the duration of the war until repatriation on 14th January 1919

A letter dated 2nd June 1918 from his mother Mrs Caulfield now of 35 Raphael St, Bolton is contained within his army service papers. He requested that his mother gained proof from the Army that he was in fact a substantive Corporal as it would appear that it wasn’t believed at the camp, stating:  “ There are people doubting him in Germany and he is having to bear the blunt (sic)”

His POW files held at the International Red Cross do actually show his rank on his camp papers as such at both camps.

At a ceremony in Bolton on Saturday 1st February 1919 the Mayor of Bolton, Lord Leverhulme presented the biggest batch of gallantry medals handed out at one time in the town. He presented the Military Medal to Cpl Charles Grognet and according to the Bolton Evening News of Friday February 7th 1919 the medal was gained “For general good work and taking ammunition and rations up the line under heavy shell fire”.

Garry Farmer
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Garry Farmer

Garry's grandfather and great uncles served in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment during WWI, 2 Gt uncles were KIA at Ypres and Mesopotamia. A regular worldwide battlefield visitor and exhibitor at the OMRS Convention he spent 36 years as a civil and RAF policeman and served on operations in Bosnia, Cyprus, Kenya, North, Central and South America.
Garry Farmer
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