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Charles Francis O’Neill born in Sale, Cheshire in about 1894. He was the eldest of seven children to Francis Charles and Eleanor O’Neill. His siblings were;

  • Henry Hugh O’Neill
  • William Stephen O’Neill
  • Helen O’Neill
  • Mary Elizabeth O’Neill
  • Thomas O’Neill
  • Peter Austin O’Neill

In 1901 the family were living at 114 Lansdowne Road, Didsbury and their father was working as Mercantile clerk. By the time of the 1911 census they were living at 58 Talbot Street, Moss Side, Manchester and their father was now working as a Cooperative Society Clerk. Charles and second-eldest sibling Henry were also employed as clerks, for a provision merchant and cloth merchant respectively. By 1916 the family had moved to 35 Greame Street, Moss Side, Manchester.

Charles enlisted in the Territorial Force on 26th February 1916 at Manchester where he joined the 7th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment with the number 5130. He was 21 years old and had no previous military service. He signed the Imperial and General Service Declaration that same day which would allow him, as a TF soldier, to serve overseas and gave his father’s name and address as that of his legal next of kin.

charles francis oneill signature

Charles signature upon agreeing to serve overseas

The medical officer who examined Charles described him as being 5ft 8.75in tall, weighing 132lbs with a 34in chest.

Charles remained in the UK training for service overseas until 4th August 1916 where he sailed from Folkestone to Boulogne. Upon arrival in France he proceeded to the 24th Infantry Base Depot before joining the 1/4th (Territorial) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in the field. His official transfer to the Regiment came through on 9th September 1916 and he was given the LNL service number 6319.

Twenty days later, on 29th September 1916, Private Charles Francis O’Neill died from wounds sustained during the their time in the trenches at GUEDUECOURT, probably during the shell-fire on 28th September. He had been in the Army just 216 days and was buried at Longueval Road Cemetery.

Lieut. Colonel Ralph Hindle recorded the 1/4th Battalion War Diary entries for the period, which read;

MAMETZ, 24th September 1916

Church Parade. At 1630hrs the Battalion marched off to the trenches and relieved a battalion of the 165th Infantry Brigade in BROWN TRENCH, in front of DELVILLE WOOD, and close to FLERS.

FLERS, 25th September 1916

Nothing of importance occurred. Two carrying parties, each of 60 men, carried up rations and stores to the units in the front line. Casualties – 1 O.R. Killed, 5 O.R wounded and 5 O.R to hospital.

FLERS, 26th September 1916

Morning quiet. A few casualties as a result of hostile shell-fire. At 2200hrs the Battalion moved up into the front line and took over from 1/7th Kings Liverpool Regiment in GIRD TRENCH, close to GUEUDECOURT. Casualties – 17 O.R. wounded, 3 O.R. missing and 2 O.R. to hospital sick.

GUEDUECOURT, 27th September 1916

Our artillery very active all day. The 164th Infantry Brigade attacked at 1630 hrs, the 8th (Irish) capturing part of GIRD SUPPORT, still held by the enemy. 1/4th N. Lan. R was in support, but was not required to give any assistance. In the course of the evening, the Battalion relieved the Irish in the captured trench and also occupied with our Company a sunken road running into GUEDUECOURT. The following were the casualties for the day; Officers: Killed – 2/Lieut. R. Forrest. Wounded – 2/Lieut. G. Duerden (slightly). Other Ranks: 4 O.R. wounded, 2 O.R to hospital sick.

GUEDUECOURT, 28th September 1916

Misty with early morning, then mist cleared, a large number of the enemy were seen digging themselves in along a line 800-900 away from our front line. Rifle and machine gun fire was opened on them and they suffered several casualties and to cease work.

From 12 noon till 1500hrs our trenches and the sunken road held by D Coy were subjected to a very heavy bombardment by the enemy artillery. Casualties under the circumstances were very slight; 6 O.R. Killed, 30 O.R. wounded and 3 O.R. to hospital sick.

GUEDUECOURT, 29th September 1916

0100hrs. The Battalion was relieved by the 10th Royal West Kent Regiment, and on relief marched into camp at MAMETZ.

The Manchester Evening News of Saturday 24th October announced Charles’ death.

“The parents of CHARLES FRANCIS O’NEILL, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and Manchesters, aged 22, have been officially informed of his death. He was the grandson of the late Mr. Charles O’Neill, a former member of the City Council and late Manchester School Board.”

A bag containing his personal effects was sent to his father in Manchester in February 1917. The bag contained;

  • 1 Identity Disc
  • Letter
  • 1 Compass
  • 1 Rosary
  • 1 Knife
  • 1 Pip
  • 1 Wallet containing 1 photograph and 1 National Registration Card

His mother and father would later receive their late-son’s British War Medal and Allied Victory Medal, along with a memorial plaque and scroll in recognition of his sacrifice – both the scroll and the plaque were returned for correction and re-manufacture due to a naming error (as shown below).

charles francis oneil scroll

The returned scroll – Charles’ names in the wrong order.

 

Rank: Private
Service No: 6319
Date of Death: 29/09/1916
Age: 22
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.
Cemetery: LONGUEVAL ROAD CEMETERY

Paul McCormick
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Paul McCormick

Paul McCormick is the creator and administrator for the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment website. Since 2010 he has been researching the soldiers that served during the First World War and sharing their stories on his website. You can contact Paul through the website 'Contact Me' page or on Twitter and Facebook.
Paul McCormick
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3 Responses to 6319 PTE. C. F. O’NEILL. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. Francis O'Neill says:

    Fascinating. Charles was my uncle. I have visited Charles ‘s grave at the Longueval Road military cemetery which is small and beautifully kept. Very well researched article on my family and I learnt a lot.
    Francis O’Neill

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