CHARLES FREDERICK CHERRY
The Birkenhead News of 22nd September 1915 described Charles as the “handsome son of the popular and genial stationmaster of Hoylake.” He was born in Chester, but had lived in the Deeside area for most of his life. On census night in 1891, his father, George Cherry (born in about 1856 in Leicestershire), was Moreton’s stationmaster . He was married to Mary Jane Smart (born in Leicestershire in about 1857). By 1911, the couple had three children – Charles and his sisters Mary Elizabeth (born in about 1886 in Chester) and Emily Jane (born in about 1890 in Moreton). In 1901, the family was living in a six-roomed house on Cable Road in Hoylake and were still there in 1911.
Charles attended Calday Grange Grammar School for Boys and was a keen yachtsman. Upon leaving school, he was employed by The Union Marine Insurance Company on Dale Street in Liverpool as a clerk and joined the 1/4th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment in August 1914 in Birkenhead. His employer promised to give him his job back when the war was over. He became a member of the machine gun section of his unit. Probably as a result of his superiors being impressed with his educational qualifications and administrative skills, Charles was transferred to the divisional staff in July 1915. When his friends heard that he was leaving the section, they gave him a pen. Sadly, the pen’s presenter, Sergeant Penny of Birkenhead, died around about the same time as Charles.
Charles arrived in the Dardanelles on 8th August 1915. The Birkenhead News reported that he died as a result of receiving a “shrapnel bullet ” in the back while standing on the threshold of an office tent. This reveals how difficult were the conditions on the Gallipoli Peninsula – how densely packed were the troops and how close the staff were to the front line.
The local papers were full of praise for young Charles. He appears to have taken after his father, as they reported that he possessed “a genial and affable disposition” and that he “earned the esteem and respect of a large circle of friends at home; and abroad it is said of him that ‘he was loved by all his fellows'”. His former employers said, “We will miss him in the office. He was a really good boy – a happy spirit – a loyal and hard worker and a credit to his family.”
Charles was clearly a unique and lovely young man, whose premature death was, like all the others in this story, an unspeakable tragedy for the local area. We can only begin to imagine the pain his dear parents and sisters had to endure in the ensuing years and hope that communal commemorations and the passage of time helped, to some extent, to assuage their agonies.
Charles’s will was proved in February 1916 and his estate, worth £246 17s 7d, was passed to Thomas Rainford Jackson, a stationer and printer.
Birth: c.1888 in Chester
Death: 1st September 1915 in Gallipoli
Address: Moreton (91), 7, Cable Road Hoylake (01-11)
Occupation: Clerk for the Union Marine Insurance Company in Liverpool
Unit(s): 1/4th Bn. The Cheshire Regiment
Number and Rank: 2139, Lance Corporal
Medals: 1915 Star, Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: Turkey: Helles Memorial Panel 75-77
Sources: BR, CWGC, SDGW, MC, Prob., BN, DA, Census: 91, 01, 11
JOHN EDWARD CHRISTIAN
Jack Christian was the son of James Christian, a joiner (born in about 1866 in Andreas, Isle of Man) and Ann Hancock (born in West Kirby in about 1868). Jack was their second child; the others were Mary Dorothy, James Arthur and David Reginald. In 1901 the family was lodging with Edward Hansard and his wife on Banks Road; by 1911, they were living in Dee Cottage. Jack attended Hoylake Higher Elementary School and was a member of West Kirby Swimming Club. He left school and began work in 1912.
The Christian family first came from the Isle of Man to Wirral in the 1860s as carpenters. There was a housing boom with the coming of the railway and they soon became successful builders. Modern West Kirby contains living evidence of the work of the Christian family and of their Manx roots. They built the Crescent, Tynwald Road and Orrysdale Road (Orrisdale was a former family home in the Isle of Man). Ridley Grove is named after William Watson Christian’s wife, Elizabeth Ridley and Murray Grove is named after a Christian maternal grandmother.
It appears that Jack joined the Royal Engineers in the summer of 1915. The Deeside Advertiser of 19th November 1915 reported that he was “having a good time in Bedford” and the West kirby News told this remarkable story:
He was posted to the front in January 1917, by which time he had been transferred to the King’s (Liverpool Regiment).
By this time, his battalion was part of 165th Brigade, 55th (West Lancashire) Division. Between 30th July and 4th August 1917, the division was involved in the Battle of Pilkem Ridge in the Ypres Salient, particularly in the actions at Spree, Pond and Schuler Farms, where it lost no fewer than 168 officers and 3384 men killed, wounded or missing. Jack was one of them. His officers had seen him receive wounds in the arm and leg whilst advancing on 31st August and assumed that he had managed to get back to the dressing station and receive proper medical attention, but he seems to have disappeared. His parents subsequently made enquiries and managed to obtain reports that a soldier matching his description had been seen. He was later confirmed dead and his body must have been identified as he has a marked grave in the Ypres Salient. The following is an extract from an article which appeared in the Deeside Advertiser of 7th September 1917:
Following the poor lad’s death, his parents moved to Andreas, 55 South Road, West Kirby. West Kirby remains a very popular place in which to live. The above-mentioned streets, built by Jack’s relations, contain beautiful, solid and desirable homes, which are full of character. Perhaps now, when we view both them and the names of the streets, we will remember this young man’s sacrifice and the inevitable sufferings of his close family.
Remarkably Jack’s father wrote to the Deeside Advertiser in 1919 suggesting that the council purchase some land belonging to the trustees of the Lear Home between Grange and Bridge Roads and build six alms houses “for the use of deserving crippled soldiers and their wives”. He felt that this would be “more use than a stone monument.”
Birth: December 1897 in West Kirby; christened at St. Bridget’s Church, West Kirby on 8th January 1898
Death: 31st July 1917, died of wounds, aged 19
Address: Banks Road, West Kirby (01), Dee Cottage, Banks Road, West Kirby (11, 17)
Occupation: Probably worked for the family building firm?
Unit(s): 1st/9th The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) formerly Royal Engineers
Number(s) and Rank: 350015 formerly 971
Medals: Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: WK, Belgium: New Irish Farm Cemetery, Ypres VI. F. 18.
Sources: BR, CWGC, SDGW, MC, DA, WKN, Census: 01, 11
Sadly, we do not have many records relating to this soldier and there is ambiguity about the details which we do have. He seems to have avoided being mentioned in any official documents until the 1911 census when he was living in the Hydro Hotel in West Kirby, where he worked as a servant and in the December quarter of 1913 when he married Margaret E. Gillard in Wirral. We then know that Margaret took over his job at Campbell’s Dairy on Banks Road when he joined up and that the couple had children.
We can be certain that Herbert ended up in the Labour Corps, as this is verified by the Deeside Advertiser article which appears below. The sources disagree about the other possible regiments in which he served, but they included the South Wales Borderers and Somerset Light Infantry.
Herbert was of a fairly advanced age to be a front line soldier. it is not surprising, therefore that he was eventually transferred to the Labour Corps, wherein he would have been employed as a general labourer or handyman, engaged in the type of maintenance and construction work which is hinted at in the following extract from the Deeside Advertiser which described the poor man’s death:
Herbert was clearly a conscientious and dependable worker whose character and skills were well used by the army during the war. He is one of the millions of citizen soldiers whose commitment and sacrifice enabled the final victory by the allied forces in November 1918. He must not be forgotten.
Birth: c.1880 at Hook Common, Worcestershire
Death: 15th August 1918, aged 38, killed by a shell fragment
Address: Hydro Hotel, West Kirby (11), Silverdale Cottage, Church Road, West Kirby (18)
Occupation: Hotel Servant (11) later worked at Campbell’s Dairy on Banks Road West Kirby
Units: SDGW: South Wales Borderers and Labour Corps; CWGC: 1st Bn. Somerset Light Infantry and 179th Coy. Labour Corps; MC: Somerset Light Infantry and Labour Corps
Number(s) and Rank: According to CWGC: 28733; According to SDGW: 414244, formerly 3753; According to MC: 240851 and 622639, Private
Medals: British War and Victory
Commemorated and Buried: WK, France: Lapugnoy Military Cemetery
Sources: BR, CWGC, SDGW, MC, DA, Census: 1911
Sidney (or Sydney) Collins was the son of William Harry (born in about 1869 in Wales) and Mary Ellen Collins (born in Birmingham in about 1871). It is possible that the couple married in the December quarter of 1889 and that Mary’s surname was, therefore, Jones. William was a stonemason and Mary a dressmaker. Sidney was the fourth of five children – all boys. The eldest son, William Alfred, was born in Preston, so the family must have left that town and settled in West Kirby between about 1893 and 1897. Sidney attended West Kirby Church School (St. Bridget’s) and Hoylake Higher Elementary School. He began work in 1912, but, so far, we have no record of his occupation. He was a member of St. Andrew’s Church Choir in West Kirby.
Sidney must have joined up between January and February 1917. He did seven months’ training and was on the Western Front for twelve days before he was killed. His unit was part of 56th Brigade, 19th (Western) Division and was engaged in the battle for the Menin Road (20th – 25th September 1917) – one component in the mighty Third Battle of Ypres. Apparently, Sidney was killed whilst engaged in “stretcher work”. His parents received letters from his captain and a “Birkenhead chum”.
All of Sidney’s brothers served during the Great War. One of them had been medically discharged just before Sidney died.
Birth: 28th June 1898 in West Kirby
Death: 20th September 1917, killed in action aged 19
Addresses: 11 Westbourne Road, West Kirby (97-01), 3 Acacia Grove, West Kirby (11-17)
Unit: 7th Bn. The Prince of Wales’s Volunteers (South Lancashire Regiment)
Number and Rank: 39492, Private
Medals: Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: Belgium: Ypres, Duhallow ADS Cemetery
Sources: BR, CWGC, SDGW, MC, BN, Census: 01, 11