Private Charles McCann. 1/6th Battalion Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment. Service number 3399. Later 266152.
Charles was born on 28th February 1894 in Keighley. He was the fourth out of five sons of James and Margaret McCann (although another child is known to have died.)
By 1901 he was seven years old and living at 5, Leeds Street in Keighley, with parents, with his parents and brothers Bernard 13; Martin 12; Daniel 9 and James McCann aged 5. Their father was a blacksmith striker and their mother was a housekeeper.
This house was next door to the alehouse pictured here (it would be just out of shot to the right). This would later become the Brown Cow Public House and it still exists today. After demolition of a lot of the slum housing in this area during the 1960s, the family home was incorporated into the Brown Cow and is now part of the modern pub, which means we can step inside what used to be their home:
He was 17 in 1911 and still living at 5, Leeds Street in Keighley, with his parents and brothers Daniel 19 and James 15. Father and mother were still in the same occupations and Charles' was a labourer at a textile machinery firm.
On 26th November 1914 aged 20 years, he attested at Skipton for four years service with the 1/6th Battalion Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment. Charles also signed for overseas service on the same date, as this was a Territorial battalion.
His medical grade was A1 and he was 5 feet 6 inches with a 35 inch chest and he had good physical development. His civilian ocupation was that of 'iron driller,' probably at a local engineering or foundry of which Keighley was well noted. His next of kin was his father, James McCann living at the family home in 5, Leeds Street.
After several months of training, Charles embarked on S.S. Onward on 14th April with D Company of the 1/6th Battalion Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment and his name appears on their nominal roll.
Charles was admitted to hospital on 16th September with a fractured metacarpal (thumb) caused by falling on his hand whilst playing football. Apparently he stumbled whilst running and fell on his thumb. There was a considerable amount of bruising and he was sent for an x-ray. Doctors report states: "The disability is of a trivial nature and in all probability will not undermine his future efficiency as a soldier. He does not state that he was #### of Military duty at the time of the accident. Signed Lt. #### RAMC. Also signed by Charles McCann but most of this is illegible, but it seems to be stating that it did not happen whilst in performance of his military duty. The next form in his record confirms this.
On 5th May 1916 he was admitted to 1/2nd West Riding Field Ambulance with scabies. He rejoined his unit ten days later.
On 15th September 1916 he was admitted to 1/3rd West Riding Field Ambulance with an abcess. Then his records show it was an abcess on the perineum and he was transferred to no. 3 Canadian General Hospital at Boulogne on 24th September. He was posted to 9 Infantry Base Depot at Etaples on 25th September, which is likely to have been for administrative reasons as he was no longer on fighting strength. He was operated on in France then travelled on the Hospital Ship St. Denis on 25th September, presumably for convalescence in the UK. He was discharged from hospital on 21st December and was posted to the 6th Battalion West Riding Regiment Reserve on the 30th, which would have been for administration as he would have been placed on strength here instead of the Infantry Base Depot at Etaples.
On 10th January 1917 he was at Clipstone Camp where he was admonished for being absent from duty from 11.45 am to 6.45 pm. (very difficult to read).
He was also confined to barracks for two days on 20th April for being insolent to an officer. His career recovered from these minor infractions as he was appointed Acting Lance Corporal (unpaid) on 4th August and he served in this rank until 16th May 1918 when he was appointed Acting Lance Corporal (paid) on 16th May.
This was short-lived however as he was relieved of his lance corporal's stripe by Major Rodgers on 17th May due to:
1) Breaking out of barracks after tattoo roll call. 2) Being in possession of an irregular pass.
He got his stripe back on 2nd July when he was again appointed Acting Lance Corporal (temporarily unpaid).
At Southend on the 29th December he was reprimanded for neglect of duty and then reprimanded again on 22nd January 1919 at Southend on Sea for being absent from bathing parade. Reprimanded by Lt. H. F. Wood.
Charles signed as 'not claiming to be suffering from a disability due to military service' at Southend on 25th February. He was still serving with the 6th Reserve Battalion West Riding Regiment. He was disembodied on demobilisation 29th March and his discharge certificate shows he had the specialist military qualification of Bombing Instructor.
Charles received his British War Medal and Victory Medal on 17th January 1922 and he also received his 1914-15 Star. The date says 24th January but the year is unclear in the record.
He is recorded in the 1939 register as living alone in the family home at 5, Leeds Street in Keighley and he was a bricklayer, which was described as heavy work.
Charles McCann died in 1947 aged 53 and his death was registered in the Worth Valley in the second quarter of that year.
Birth, marriage and death records.
1901 and 1911 census.
WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920.
Army service records.
Keighley News archives, Keighley Library.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
National Archives war diary for 1/6th Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment. WO95-2801