Much of Charles Howard's story is unfortunately currently a mystery. What is known is that he was from Manchester and married Eleanor (possibly Eleanor Thompson in 1911). He had a sister called Mary who at the time of his death lived at 44 Philips Park Road in Beswick, she placed a small 'in memorium' notice in the Manchester Evening News to say that he was sadly missed. The 1911 census has a Charles Howard of the right age living as a boarder at No.46 Philips Park Road & it seems very likely that this is the right man, at the time he was working as a coal carter. Two others, presumably older brothers, were also boarding there - William & James Howard.
At the time of the war Charles and his wife Eleanor were living at 6 Wragby Street in Manchester's Miles Platting district. The 9th Lancashire Fusiliers were formed in Bury on August 31st 1914, Charles enlisted in Manchester at some early point in the war and was sent to this new service battalion. They were stationed at Belton Park near Grantham and after that were at Witley Camp near Godalming. They were then allocated to join the force fighting at Gallipoli, sailing from Liverpool on July 5th. They first landed at Mudros, on the island of Lemnos, only 30 or so miles from Gallipoli, where a large force was gathering. The British were going to land at Suvla Bay on the night of August 6th in what was to eventually prove to be a fruitless endeavour.
The convoy waited for dark to fall at about 19:30 before heading off from Imbros.The date had been specially chosen as the moon was not due to rise till after the troops were intended to be ashore.This night though was particularly dark.
The plan for Charles Howard's battalion was to seize Hill 10 which was a half mile east of 'A' Beach on which they were to land in Suvla Bay. The 8th Northumberland Fusiliers and 5th Dorsetshire Regiment were to join them on Hill 10 and then were together to attack Chocolate Hill from the north, advancing not later than 01:30 on August 7th.There was inadequate reconnaissance & maps were both late in arriving and inaccurate. Z Company was to land first and clear Hill 10 with a couple of platoons, the rest of the battalion was to form up on A Beach.
At 22:30 the destroyers anchored a mile from shore and cast off the lighters.The noise from these small vessels attracted some fire from the Turks ashore. The naval craft had been carried away from their proper course so rather than landing at A Beach they were a thousand yards south of it and in an area where the Royal Navy suspected there were shoals. Their suspicions were correct and the Lancastrians ran aground some fifty yards or so from the shore. The Turks at once opened fire on these tempting targets. The shortest officer available, Lieutenant E.H Davies was lowered over the side of one of the lighters and determined that the depth was only about 4 foot 6 inches. The men duly splashed ashore and patrols were sent out to try and determine their position.
Just after 03:00 on the morning of the 7th, an already wounded Colonel Welstead & Major Ibbetson were briefed by Major Ashburner from the 34th Brigade (the 9th LF being one of the four battalions in this brigade). Major Cyril Ibbetson later recalled this & what happened next:
" 'Look, do you see that hill, over there on the left?That is the hill we want - Hill 10.If you can take all the men you have got, and carry that hill between those two trees on the horizon we shall be all right, otherwise we shall probably be driven into the sea!' We started in three lines in extended order, the men going forward splendidly,led by their Platoon Commanders, in the most superb manner imaginable, with shells and bullets coming thicker and thicker, every man being eager to get to the objective. There was a check just before we got to the foot of the hill. Then in one mad rush we carried the hill at the point of the bayonet. A terrific fire was opened on us from a fieldwork facing us, from some trenches on our right which enfiladed our position and from some guns high up in a valley above us. Realising that we could not hold this position, unless the trenches were cleared of the enemy, I ordered an attack on those trenches. There was much confusion, so I was unable to get orders to the whole of my command, but I got a good lot together and soon we took those trenches, but the casualties were very heavy and I was wounded too. I sound found that the fieldwork, which I had ignored, enfiladed to a nicety these trenches and if anybody moved he was immediately hit. I ordered everybody to make cover for themselves and attend to the wounded. Nobody was allowed to show himself. Suddenly, to our horror, we saw Hill 10 evacuated by the troops which had come up to reinforce us and we watched them retire right back in the direction from whence we had come. We were now isolated. Our casualties increased and we made a desperate fight of it for hours until the West Yorks appeared on Hill 10 again. I shall not forget that trench."
Once the West Yorkshires arrived they attacked the fieldwork. The Fusiliers joined in and a lot of Turks were killed as they attempted to retreat. The men then met another party of Turks who were about to launch a counter attack and scattered them.
Unfortunately it wasn't even Hill 10. The hill the Fusiliers had attacked was a large sand dune about 400 yards south of the real Hill 10 and defended by only a small Turkish force. The real Hill 10 was captured later that morning by men of the Northumberland Fusiliers & Dorsetshire Regiment.
Over the next two days the 9th Lancashire Fusiliers found themselves both in reserve for and fighting alongside the 5th Dorsetshires before being relieved on August 12th.
From the landing up until that point they had lost 76 men killed and many more wounded.
It was three days later, while the battalion weren't in action, that Charles Howard was to be killed.The likelihood is that he was hit by a shell. The only other man killed that day was Royton man William Moores. Not long after Charles' death his wife Eleanor moved from Miles Platting to King Street in Royton. She was just around the corner from the Moores family on High Street. That is either a very big coincidence or could it be that there was some sort of link between the men or their grieving families afterwards?
Unfortunately, apart from the brief memorial notice posted by his sister Mary, there is very little to go on trying to piece Charles' story together. If you have any information please do get in touch.
Date of Death:15/08/1915
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