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Charles Hewitt was born in Farington in November 1878 and baptised at Farington St. Paul’s on 1 December that year.  His father was Arthur Thomas Hewitt (b. 1852 in Manchester), a railway platelayer by trade.  His mother was Mary Ann Rosbottom (b. 1851 in Euxton).  Arthur’s family had moved to Penwortham in the 1850s.  Arthur and Mary Ann settled in Farington after their marriage at St Paul’s in 1873.  They had 6 children: Ellen (b. 1872), William (b. 1875), then Charles, Ralph (b. 1880), Arthur (b. 1883) and Emma (b. 1885).  Mary Ann died in 1892 and the following year Arthur married a second time, to Ellen Ratcliffe (b. 1862 in Farington), and they had 2 children: Rhoda (b. 1894) and Annie (b. 1896).  Ellen died in 1898 and later that same year Arthur married a third time, to Jane Trafford (b. 1856 in Cuerden Green).  They had no more children.  Arthur died in 1915 while his son Charles was serving in the France.


I haven’t found Charles in the 1901 Census.  That year he was 23 years old and almost certainly serving in the Army, probably in South Africa.  In 1907, he married Elizabeth Ann Cuerden (b. 1880 in Leyland) and they had two daughters: Mary Ellen (b. 1908) and Annie (b. 1910).  In 1911, Charles was working as a labourer and the family was living at 8 Ward’s New Row, Lostock Hall.  Charles must have been a reservist as he landed in France with 1Bn East Lancashire Regiment on 30 August 1914.  1Bn E. Lancs. came under the orders of 11th Brigade in 40th Division.  This Division was formed in 1914 and had originally been held back in England to defend against a possible German invasion, but was soon dispatched to France to join the War there.  In 1914, the Division fought at Le Cateau, the Battles of the Marne and the Aisne and at Armentières.  In 1915, they fought at the Second Battle of Ypres, and in 1916, on the Somme, at Albert and Le Transloy. 


In February and March 1917, the Battalion was well behind the lines, engaged in training and practising attacks.  In April, they moved to Maroeil, near Arras as the date for their engagement approached.  On 9 April, they were woken at 4.30 to prepare for battle – the first engagement for many of the troops, although not for Charles.  After an opening artillery barrage, which inflicted heavy damage on the enemy trenches, the Battalion advanced almost unopposed.  Casualties were relatively light, 2 officers killed and 2 wounded, about 55 other ranks killed or wounded.  This was the opening day of the First Battle of the Scarpe, part of the Battle of Arras.  After these initial successes, the War returned to its accustomed state of stalemate.  The weather was appalling and the trenches in a wretched state.  The Battalion remained in the trenches until 16 April, when they withdrew to billets at Agnez.  They were not engaged in any fighting on 19 April, the day Charles is recorded as killed in action.  1Bn had had 26 men killed on 9 April and another 20 men were killed in the following ten days.  12 of the men killed in April have no grave and are commemorated on the Arras Memorial, so it is possible that they were killed in earlier action or shelling.  CWGC says Charles was 37 but I believe he was 38.


Rank:  Private

Service No:  6180

Date of Death:  19/04/1917

Age:  38

Regiment/Service:  East Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.

Panel Reference:  Bay 6.


Additional Information:  Son of the late Arthur Hewitt; husband of Elizabeth Ann Hewitt, of Croston Rd., Farington, Preston. Lancs.

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