One of the distinctive features of World War 1 – contributing significantly to the casualty figures - was the way in which hundreds of thousands of men were living for long periods in close proximity to the enemy and were vulnerable at any moment to injury or death through small-arms fire, mortar fire, grenades and, the ever-present threat of artillery shellfire.
Several of the East Chinnock men were serving in the 7th (Service) Battalion Somerset Light Infantry, part of the 61st Brigade, 20th (Light) Division. The battalion had arrived in France on the 24th July 1915 and entered a quiet part of the front line near Armentières as part of its training on the 10th August. Life consisted of rotating in and out of the line on a six-day basis, time out of the line being spent providing working parties and in training. In January the battalion was moved out of the line for a rest period lasting most of the month. In early February it was moved to the Ypres salient and went back into the line on the 23rd February. In spite of never taking part in a major battle during this period, the effort simply of holding the front line for five months cost the battalion some 51 officers and men killed and 57 wounded (of its original strength of 990 men and 30 officers).
One of the men killed was Private/Scout Charles Andrews
(Regimental No. 14839). Private Andrews, of 440 College (now “Church View Cottage”) was the brother of Cyril
, the son of Joseph & Elizabeth Ann (who were to lose 2 of their 4 sons during the War – but who also had 3 daughters: Frances, Annie and Rose).
With thanks to Allan Collier of Yeovil for this reference - Allan's work on local WW1 servicemen is now available.
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The picture, below, would have been the one used in local press to deliver the news of the death of Private Charles Andrews (Regimental No. 14839), 7th (Service) Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry.
The faded picture below is also of Private Andrews in 1915 (reproduced with the kind permission of his nephew Richard Andrews. With thanks to Phil Nichols of West Chinnock). It is possible that he went to Rendalls photographer's studios to get himself photographed for his mother and sisters, possibly just before he got posted to France.
On page 45 of his book “Forged by Fire: The Battle Tactics and Soldiers of a World War One Battalion The 7th Somerset Light Infantry” (Spellmount Ltd., 2003), Brendan Moorhouse describes Private Andrews’ death:“On the same afternoon (Saturday 27th March) the enemy began a trench mortar barrage. One bomb landed near a trench in which one of the battalion’s scouts, Charles Andrews, was sleeping. Private Andrews was lying on the firestep when the nosecap of the bomb struck his leg. He was carried out of the line, cheerfully telling one of his comrades to “Write and tell my mother it’s nothing serious”. He died before he reached the forward casualty clearing station, aged 19.”
(Copied with the kind permission of the author).
Private Andrews is buried in the Bard Cottage Cemetery just outside the town of Ypres, in Belgium.