The record of another rifleman whose grave is in the Guards Cemetery, Lesboeufs
proved unexpectedly interesting.
R/19483 Hope, Charles Agar Ref V.E.7
Charles Hope, an ironmonger, aged 23, was in D Company, despite coming from Naburn, just south of York, where his father, Henry, was lock-keeper at Naburn Locks. This is probably because he came late to the battalion after being enlisted into the reserve (hence his service number) in December 1915. The record is badly damaged, but the date of his being mobilized as a rifleman appears to be 8 February 1916, and he probably joined the battalion at Aldershot. On his attestation form ‘General Service’ has been over-stamped ‘Yeoman Rifles’ and there is no evidence of any other KRRC battalion (unlike the other R/ - soldiers mentioned here). His middle name ‘Agar’, from his mother Sarah Ann’s maiden name (not used in his military documents) is the surname of two other riflemen, but I haven’t looked closely enough to tell whether there is a relationship.
His casualty form shows he was reported on 19.9.16 ‘Missing 15/17.9.16’ and then on 13.11.16 ‘Killed in action 15/17.9.16’, and as usual he is recorded ‘Killed in action 17th September’ by both SDGW and CWGC. At all events, he hadn’t been in a dressing station.There is correspondence on his file which shows how much doubt and anxiety remained in the minds of the family when so little was known about whether a man had been killed outright on the day or died of wounds a little later. Perhaps the man had not died at all?
His mother wrote on 15th November after receiving her son’s disc to ask:
‘If possible will you please say,
1. If, without doubt, the disc was taken off the body or out of the kit bag belonging to the above, if the former,
2. Where is he buried and when, and,
3. If the pocket book and photographs which he always carried may be returned?’
The answer to this articulate, formal and controlled letter (typed so possibly done with assistance), is not on file but in February 1917 she wrote again to follow up an earlier letter asking for the home address of Corporal JE Baker, No 13018 (actually C/13018), who had been her son’s great friend, and who had, she believed, been seen together with him – perhaps on 15th, but a crucial section of the letter has been burnt away so it is not clear. She had seen Corporal Baker’s name in the casualty lists as ‘Wounded’ and her son’s as ‘Missing’ and she wondered if Baker was a prisoner of war, and then perhaps if her son was too, even though she had been told he had been killed in action. It seems she had not received any of her son’s belongings.
Correspondence between RAMC personnel at the hospitals where Baker was being treated and the KRRC records section at Winchester ensued and a handwritten statement from Corporal JE Baker is on file, which must have dashed Mrs Hope’s desperate hopes.
‘Rfn C Hope, 21st Battn King’s Royal Rifles, was known to me but I am unable to give any information regarding him as D Company to which Hope was attached was separated from the rest of the Battalion two days before the action on Sept 15th 1916 and I have not seen him since that separation. Although I am in D Company I was attached to the Battn Hdqrs Signal Section.’
C/13018 JE Baker Corporal 21st King’s Royal Rifle Corps.
Corporal Baker is mentioned by GV Dennis in A Kitchener Man's Bit
, p 83, as being with the Colonel, the Earl of Feversham, when he was killed.
‘Signallers Baker and Gunson were wounded at the same time. The former had a very nasty wound in his neck. He was made comfortable in a shell hole which was deepened a little to give him extra protection.’
Both parents, three brothers and one sister survived him, but there was a further blow for the family soon after this correspondence: his elder brother Alfred William Hope was killed on 10 October 1917 serving with the 6th Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment (he had formerly served with the Yorkshire Hussars). Both are recorded on the Naburn page on the website for York war memorials but their relationship is not stated.
Edited by Liz in Eastbourne, 12 June 2012 - 06:40 PM.