‚ÄčRoyton Roll of Honour

Service No:21328
Date of Death:18/05/1918
Regiment:Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)
Unit:7th Bn.
Annois Communal Cemetery
Grave Reference:I. A. 3.

Lewis Charles was born in Burnley in 1879. He married an Oldham girl, Martha Charles, in his hometown in 1903 and shortly after that they settled in Royton. Lewis' occupation was painter/decorator. He and Martha had four sons together, Alfred(born 1906),Norman(1911),Frank(1912) and Harry(1916).  The family lived at 12 Houghton Street. Lewis joined the army in February 1917 and was originally with the Middlesex Regiment. Events during the tumultuous spring of 1918 saw Lewis transferred to the 7th West Kents. The 7th had been practically annihilated during the early days of the German Spring Offensive and, due to the dire position the British found themselves in, was then hastily thrown back together with drafts from other units. During the latter part of April this scratch force found itself in more heavy fighting,involving more heavy losses, with the Germans but acquitted itself well. Remarkably in the first three weeks of the German assault the 7th lost 40 officers and over 1000 other ranks but was still fighting. It seems likely that at some point during this later time Lewis was wounded and captured by the Germans. The cemetery he is buried in was used by a German field hospital for prisoners at Flavy-le-Martel during that period.
In the confusion of the time it was still being reported in the Oldham Chronicle in October 1918, five months after Lewis' death, that he was a prisoner of the Germans. At some point after that Martha Charles would have discovered that she was in fact a widow with four sons to care for.

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