Lance Corporal Charles Thomas Green

Lance Corporal Charles Thomas Green,
21st Battalion, Prince of Wales' Own (West Yorkshire) Regiment. Service number 26975.

Charles Thomas Green. Keighley News image from December 1916

Early life:
Charles was born at Silsden on 7th February 1895 and his birth was registered at Skipton. His parents were Frank Stirk Green and Mercy Green.
In the 1901 census he was six years old and living at 72, Bolton Road in Silsden with his parents and his two sisters Ann aged 8 and Mary aged two. Their father Frank's occupation was 'Clog iron maker' and it specifies he was an employer, so he probably owned the business.

By 1911 Charles was 16 years old and living at 70, Bolton Road in Silsden, still with with his parents and two sisters Anne, now aged 18 and Mary aged 12. Father Frank was described as a Clog iron manufacturer and Charles was an assistant in the clog iron works so he appears to have entered the family business, probably from the age of 13 after leaving school.

War service:
Charles attested with the 21st Pioneer Battalion, Prince of Wales' Own West Yorkshire Regiment at Keighley on 10th December 1915. He was unmarried, aged 20 years and 10 months and his attestation was approved at Skipton on 13th March 1916.
His physical details were: Height 5 feet 9 inches with a 34 inch chest. His father Frank was recorded as his next of kin.

Charles was in home service between 13th March and 14th June 1916 which would have been a period of training for a few months. He disembarked in France on 15th June and was appointed Lance Corporal (acting/unpaid) on 26th June 1916. He served overseas until the 17th of December that year, when he received a 'gunshot' wound to the face from a German shell explosion and was evacuated from the front. Then he was at 'home' from 22nd December 1916 until his eventual discharge on 14th November 1917 and most of this time appears to have been in treatment and for convalescence.
The battalion war diary gives an account of this occurrence.

21st Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment war diary entry:
Camp near COMBLES:
10th December.
B Company working on the Northern Communication Trench.
Each successive day in the diary reports that each company was 'working as yesterday,' until:
17th December 1916:
At 4.45 a.m., a heavy shell fell in B Company's dugouts killing 21/234 Company Quarter Master Sergeant Horsley, 21/243 Sergeant Gordon France and 23945 Private Richard Hartley; and wounding seven men.

Charles was almost certainly one of these seven wounded men as his army form B122 reports he was wounded on 17th December 1916, matching the war diary record. His Army service record also includes that he was wounded in the face by a GSW (gun shot wound). GSW is a non-specific term used to describe any injury caused by shrapnel, so whilst the extent of his injury is not clear, it was serious enough to require evacuation to the UK.

Note: The three men named above who died are in adjoining graves in plot 2, row F of Combles Communal Cemetery Extension in France. Their original burial site apears to have been near Savernake Wood, just to the south of Combles. After the Armistice however, their graves were concentrated by No. 3 Labour Company, along with several other battlefield graves to the Combles Cemetery at the North East side of the town.

Here are photographs of their Commonwealth War Grave Commission headstones, very kindly supplied by our friend Nigel Marshall. You can see his excellent website here

The headstone of CQMS Joseph Horsley, killed when Charles Green was wounded.

The headstone of CQMS Joseph Horsley, killed when Charles Green was wounded.

The headstone of Sergeant Gordon France, killed when Charles Green was wounded.

The headstone of Sergeant Gordon France, killed when Charles Green was wounded.

The headstone of Private Richard Hartley, killed when Charles Green was wounded.

The headstone of Private Richard Hartley, killed when Charles Green was wounded.

Charles's service record shows he was posted as a Lance Corporal to 'Depot' on 22nd December 1916 and to the 3rd Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment on 14th June 1917 but these are just administration postings for pay etc and he was probably in some medical establishment until at least June 1917. He was appointed (paid) acting Lance Corporal on 23rd August 1917.
After a medical evaluation, his permanent discharge from the Army was from the First Northern General Hospital at Newcastle on Tyne on 14th November 1917.
He had served for one year and 340 days, although only one year and 248 days of this counted towards his pension, as apparently his first 92 days in reserve was not included.

He received a weekly pension of 27 shillings and 6d for 4 weeks (from 14th November 1917) followed by 15 shillings and 9d per week, to be reviewed in 48 weeks. His disability was described as 'GSW Face' and he was medically downgraded as category Cii and a statement appears in his Army records making it clear there was no likelihood of being upgraded to Category A.
He was discharged due to wounds received in action under King's regulations Paragraph 392, xvi. and issued with a Silver War Badge (no. 302131)
On 27th October 1920, Charles received the King's Certificate (no. 5207) to recognise his service.
He also received the British War Medal on 20th October 1920 and his Victory Medal on 24th November 1921.

Later life:
Charles married Barbara M. Lambert in 1919 and their marriage was registered at Skipton in the last quarter of the year.

Their daughter Margaret was born on 12th June, 1923.

In the 1939 Register Charles and Barbara are living at 'Richmond' on Purcell Drive, Silsden with their daughter Margaret aged 16. Charles is a Leather merchant. They also have two girls, Eileen Sowray (aged 11) and Regina Sowray (aged 10) living with them, although the reasons for this are unclear. Both Charles and Barbara are also listed with the ARP - Air Raid Patrol for the West Riding County Council.

Their daughter Margaret married William J. Welsh in 1946 when she would have been about 23 years old.

Barbara died aged 73 in early 1968 and Charles died ten years later at the age of 83, on 19th August 1978 at Silsden. He left £30,950 in probate, probably to their daughter Margaret Welsh.

Margaret Welsh died aged 76 in 2000.

Keighley News 30th December 1916, page 5. (Photo appears on page 3 of this issue):
Mr F. S. Green, of 70, Bolton Road, Silsden, received information on Friday week that his son, Lance Corporal C. T. Green, of the West Yorkshire Regiment, had been wounded in action. The wound is in the head, and Lance Corporal Green is now in a hospital in London. He is 21, years of age, and before joining the colours was employed in his father's business of clog iron manufacturing.

Local history:
Cliffe Castle Museum in Keighley has a tie pin on permanent display, which has a small piece of shrapnel fixed to it. It was donated in 1968 by Mr C. Green of Silsden, with the story that it blinded him in his left eye when he was serving in the Great War. We believe that Charles Thomas Green is the same man and the shrapnel is a remnant of the shell explosion on December 17, 1916 which wounded him in the face.

Tiepin with a tiny piece of shrapnel taken from Mr C. Green's eye during the war

Photo by Liesl Beckles.

Descriptive text at Cliffe Castle Museum

Photo by Liesl Beckles.

Source information:
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
1901 England Census
1911 England Census
British Army World War I Service Records, 1914-1920
British Army World War I Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
World War I Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920
Silver War Badge Records, 1914-1920
World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923
England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2007
1939 England and Wales Register
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995
Regimental War Diary for the 21st Pioneer battalion West Yorkshire Regiment - WO95/1472-3
Keighley News archives held at Keighley Library
Cliffe Castle Museum
Tiepin photos by kind courtesy of Liesl Beckles
CWGC photos by kind courtesy of Nigel Marshall

2 Responses

  1. Very interesting read. I have a relative private Frank Dawson of Tufton Street, Silsden. He is mentioned on the Craven Herald website. He died in action on the Somme. I went to visit his grave last year New British Cemetry, Tincourt. His name is on the cenotaph at Silsden.
  2. Andy Wade
    Hi Chris, thanks very much for this. I note that Frank Dawson is on the 'Craven's Part in the Great War' website here: There may be more information available for him now as new records have been released since their research was carried out although I'm not sure exactly when they did this. Kind regards, Andy.

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