12593 Private Charles Batchelor, 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment
Born on 20th July 1890 in Gaddesden Row
Killed in Action 21st December 1915 at Bienvillers, France
Charles Batchelor was born in Gaddesden Row, the 7th of the 9 children of Charles Batchelor and Elizabeth nee Hedges. His father was an Agricultural Labourer. He was baptised at St John the Baptist’s Church, Great Gaddesden on 12th October 1890.
Charles’ siblings, all of whom were baptised at St John the Baptist’s Church, Great Gaddesden, were:
- Frederick Charles, born on 9th October 1879
- Hephzibah, born in 1881
- Thomas Sidney, born on 21st December 1882
- James Percy, born on 5th October 1884
- Archibald Henry, born on 21st June 1886
- Arthur Bertram, born on 5th June 1888
- Hedley George, born on 30th October 1892
- Edwin, born on 20th May 1895
In the 1891 Census, Charles lived with his parents and six older siblings in Gaddesden Row; in 1901 he and Arthur were with their widowed Grandmother in The Row (Gaddesden Row), apparently next door to their parents and five brothers. Sidney, James and Archibald were all Farm Horsemen; George and Edwin were still of school age.
There is no apparent relationship between Charles Batchelor and Vernon Batchelor, who is also remembered in these pages, but there were so many Batchelors in the area that they might well have been cousins of some degree.
In the 1911 Census, Charles was a 21 year old Farm Labourer, Cowman. He was still living in Gaddesden Row, with his parents and brothers Archibald, Arthur, George and Edwin.
Charles attested for the Bedfordshire Regiment at Hertford. His place of residence was listed as Hemel Hempstead, possibly because this was the nearest town to Gaddesden Row.
He was one of 17 men on the Little Gaddesden Roll of Honour who volunteered for the Bedfordshire Regiment in the first month of the War. 12473 William Wells volunteered on 26th August followed by 12589 William Grant, 12591 George Cash and almost certainly 12593 Charles Batchelor on the 27th. 13330 Frank Dove R.I.P. and 13724 Horace Halsey joined on or before 3rd September 1914 and a further 11 men attested on 3rd September. These were 13785 Edward Saunders, 14374 Harold Catt, 14452 Herbert Jacobs, 14532 John Mayling, 14553 Victor Collier, 14546 Frederick Purton R.I.P., 14557 Ernest Bearton, 14575 Arthur Maunders, 17221 Bertie Purton, 17231 Herbert Fenn and 3/8219 Jesse Holland.
Charles was then posted to the 6th Battalion, in which he served as a Private, Service Number 12593.
The 6th Battalion was a “Service” battalion, raised in August 1914 specifically for the duration of the War. Other local volunteers who served in this Battalion included Private William Grant, Private George Cash, Private William Wells, Private Frederick Purton and, for two months, Private Bertie Purton.
The Battalion was formed around a cadre of 200 experienced soldiers from the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, one of whom was Private Jesse Holland. They trained at Aldershot and then on Salisbury Plain until July 1915.
However, on 29th July 1915, the Battalion boarded trains at Ludgershall Station near Andover, arriving at Southampton late that afternoon. They then left for France at 6.30pm on board the Empress Queen and landed at Le Havre at 7am on 30th July 1915. They were based around St Omer before moving forward to the front line. The Battalion served entirely on the Western Front.
However, after nearly four months in France, 25 year old Private Charles Batchelor was killed in action. The transcription of the War Diary for 6th Bn. Bedfordshire Regiment records “20 Dec 1915 Relieved 13 Rifle Bde at Bienvillers. Pte Batchelor killed”. Charles’ entries in the “Register of Soldiers’ Effects” and “Soldiers died in the Great War” both record 21st December, as does his CWGC Casualty Record. However, there is a reason for this discrepancy. War Diaries ran from noon one day to noon the next, so the War Diary entry for 20th December ran until noon on the 21st.
Burial in France 9
Charles is buried in Bienvillers Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. His grave reference is IV. A. 5.
The inscription on his headstone reads:
21st December 1915
The badge of the Bedfordshire Regiment is engraved within the cross.
We will remember them 6
Charles Batchelor is commemorated on the War Memorials on the village green and in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden. He is also named on the Roll of Honour in the church. He was posthumously awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal. His next of kin would also have received a memorial plaque and scroll; an example of the scroll and covering letter can be seen in William Mayling’s entry.
Records have yet to be found showing Charles living or working in Little Gaddesden but his older brother Thomas Sidney (Sid) Batchelor lived in the village for many years. Sid’s daughter May married Tim Sears and his daughter Pearl, Harry Smith – names still familiar in the village in the 21st Century.
Commemorated at Great Gaddesden
Charles is also commemorated on the War Memorial in the churchyard of St John the Baptist’s Church, Great Gaddesden and named on the Roll of Honour in that church.
This commemoration in Great Gaddesden fits with his family’s residence in Gaddesden Row, but it begs the question why he is additionally commemorated on Little Gaddesden’s War Memorial. The answer may well be that he worked for the Ashridge Estate locally between 1911 and the start of his military service.
At least five of Charles’ brothers served in the First World War. All five survived.
51303 Private James Percy Batchelor, 1st (Reserve) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment. (Known as Percy)
Percy enlisted in June 1916 and served in Malta from October that year. Then in 1917 he transferred to the Middlesex Regiment, in which he served in France and Flanders. He fought at Arras, Ypres, Cambrai and in the Offensive of 1918. He was demobilised in April 1919 and awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal. With his wife Jane née Dell, he then lived in Trowley Bottom near Flamstead.
17461 Private Archibald Henry Batchelor, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.
Archibald enlisted in 1916, then went to Salonika in 1917 and served on the Vardar Front. He subsequently transferred to the Labour Corps, serving as a Private in the 97th Labour Company, Military Dock Police, Salonika, Service Number 57638. He was then promoted to Lance Corporal while serving with the 969th Employment Company, Military Dock Police in Constantinople. In November 1919 he was finally demobilised and was awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal. His wife Rennie Julia née Dell was the younger sister of Percy James Batchelor’s wife Jane. They too then lived in Trowley Bottom.
M2/134012 Private Arthur Bertram Batchelor, Army Service Corps, Mechanical Transport.
Arthur’s date of enlistment is unknown but he served at Ypres where he was a waggon driver. He too was demobilised in 1919 and was awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal. In 1918 he married Rose Smith in West Ham, but they returned to Gaddesden Row, where he later worked as a Beer Retailer at The Chequers, Gaddesden Row.
2480 later 806094 Shoeing Smith Hedley George Batchelor, Royal Field Artillery. (Known as George)
On 8th April 1915, George attested at Markyate to serve as a Territorial Force volunteer in the 2/2nd North Midland Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. Initially a Gunner, on 22nd May 1915 he was appointed Shoeing Smith, which fitted his pre-War occupation as a Blacksmith. He served at home until 15th March 1917 but then embarked for France with 296 Brigade Royal Field Artillery in which he served in B, C and D Batteries. Finally, on 25th January 1919, he left France for demobilisation on 23rd February, after which he returned to Gaddesden Row. He then married Minnie Dell in 1921. For his War Service, George was awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.
266160 Private Edwin Batchelor, 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment.
A “National Roll of the Great War” entry for BATCHELOR, E., Sergeant, Hertfordshire Regt living in Trowley states: “He volunteered in 1914, and in the following year was drafted to France, where he took a leading part in various important battles until hostilities ceased, including those of Somme, Arras and Cambrai, and was wounded. He was demobilised in March 1919 after coming back to England, and holds the 1914-15 Star, and the General Service and Victory Medals.”
Edwin’s Medal Records confirm that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal and his Autumn 1918 Absent Voter’s list entry states that he was by then a Lance Corporal. However, confirmation of his 1914-15 Star and his promotion to Sergeant have yet to be found. On 17th January 1920, Edwin Batchelor married Edith Caroline Batchelor in Flamstead and they then lived at Trowley. No other E Batchelor is shown there, so the “National Roll of the Great War” entry is believed to be his.
12. Autumn 1918 Absent Voters’ Lists Parliamentary County of Hertford, Hemel Hempstead Division, Great Gaddesden entries for Arthur B Batchelor, Edwin Batchelor and George H Batchelor
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