Charles Hazlehurst was first cousin to another Hoylake soldier who died on the Somme – Edward Grisdale. They shared a grandfather – Jonathan Grisdale, who was born in Whitehaven in 1822 and died in Hoylake in 1874. Jonathan’s son, John Lowther Grisdale (1850-1909), was Edward Grisdale’s father. His sister, Mary Caroline Grisdale (1853-1921), married George Hazlehurst (1847-1899) in 1878. In 1901, the widowed Mary Caroline Hazlehurst was living with her family at 94 Market Street, Hoylake. Two of her sisters, Hannah and Eleanor Watson Grisdale, aged 53 and 43 respectively, and both living on their own means were living just off Market Street in the next property. Both of them were spinsters. By 1911 Charles and his family were living in a seven-roomed house on Sycamore Grove in Hoylake. His widowed mother was described as being a blacksmith, as were his brothers, John Thomas and Sidney. His eldest brother George was a painter and Charles himself was a butcher.
The Deeside Advertiser of 10th May 1918 said that he had been a seaman for about six years and had done several voyages on the giant Cunarder, the RMS Aquitania (pictured above), a beautiful vessel which was launched in 1913, was scrapped in 1950 and was, therefore, the longest serving passenger ship of the 20thC.
The above-mentioned edition of the Deeside Advertiser gives us a few details about Charles’s military career: he joined an unnamed battalion of the Cheshire Regiment in Chester in about March 1917 and was at the front by June of that year. At some point, he was transferred to the Inniskilling Fusiliers. The 7th and 8th battalions had been amalgamated on 23rd August 1917 and were part of 49th Brigade, 16th (Irish) Division. Charles died on the first day of the German Spring Offensive; he was killed at Gouzeaucourt in the Somme sector. In fact, his unit experienced so many losses that it was reduced to cadre strength on 22 April 1918 and surplus troops were transferred to 2nd Royal Irish Regiment.
Charles’s mother had to cope not only with the news of his death, but also the news that another son, Jack had been wounded for a second time and that Sidney, whom nobody had seen for four years, was suffering from enteric fever in India. Her eldest son, George, was also serving. Following Mary’s death on 30th December 1921 at 10 Shaw Street, Hoylake, her estate, worth £825 19s 6d, passed to her sons Jonathan Watson Hazlehurst, blacksmith and George Hazlehurst, printer. This healthy sum of money is testament to the family’s hard work, cohesion and perseverance, despite the appalling stresses and bereavements of the Great War.
Birth: c.1891 in Hoylake
Death: 21st March 1918, killed in action aged 27
Addresses: 94 Market Street, Hoylake (01), Sycamore Grove, Hoylake (11-18)
Occupations: Butcher (11), Seaman (c.1911-1917)
Units: Cheshire Regiment and 7th/8th Bn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Number and Rank: 62348 41919 Private
Medals: British War and Victory
Commemorated and Buried: GH, H. France: Somme, Templeux-Le-Guerard British Cemetery II. D. 21.
Sources: BR, CWGC, SDGW, MC, DA, GB, FT, Census: 01, 11