Thrasher, Charles William. Died 13 Oct 1914

Charles William Thrasher was born in Rugby in 1894, the son of Charles Edward and Thirza Thrasher, nee Hunt. His birth was registered in Rugby Registration District in the June quarter of 1894, reference 6d 529.

Charles was baptised on 18th May 1894 at St. Andrew’s Parish Church, Rugby.

In the 1901 Census the family was living at 43, Railway Terrace, Rugby, next to the Railway Hotel (no. 45). He is shown as William C Thrasher. His father was a Cab Driver (Groom), born in Long Buckby. Thirza was born in Long Lawford. Charles had 3 sisters: Eliza 12, Edith 9, and Kathleen 9 months and one brother, Leonard 4.

Charles’ father died in the first half of 1910, his death is recorded in the Rugby Registration District in the June quarter of that year, ref. 6D 319.

His mother, Thirza, 43, remarried to a younger Cab Driver, Arthur Hewson, 30 in late 1910 at Long Lawford. He was born in Leicester.

By the 1911 census the family had moved to 6, Charlotte Street, Rugby. Arthur is still a Cab Driver/Coachman. Charles is an Engineer’s Apprentice at BTH (British Thomson Houston) at Mill Road, Rugby.

Charles joined up on 18th August 1914 as a Gunner in The Royal Field Artillery, number 74090. Unfortunately neither his Service Record nor Pension Record survived the Blitz of WW II.

He was part of the 15th Brigade, which was in the 5th Division, and part of the 2nd Corps under the command of Sir Henry Smith-Dorrien.

On October 8th 1914, Field Marshal Sir John French Commander in chief of the British Armies in France and Flanders had conferred with General Foch, appointed by the French Commander-in-Chief to supervise the operations of all the French troops north of Nyon. 2nd Corps followed the joint plans of operation agreed at that meeting. This operation became known as the Battle of La Bassee.

On 11th October the Corps arrived on the line Aire-Bethune with the objective of connecting     with the right of the French 10th Army, and then pivoting on its left to attack the enemy who were opposing the 10th French Corps in front.   On the 12th they were commanded to continue their march and to bring up their left flank in the direction of Merville. They were then to move to the east of the line Laventie-Lorgies, which would bring them to the immediate left of the French Army and threaten the German Flank. The Fifth Division connected up with the French Army north of Annequin.

The 3rd Division, having crossed the canal deployed on the left of the 5th, and the whole of the 2nd Corps advanced to attack, but were unable to make much headway owing to the difficult character of the ground. It was covered in mining works, factories and other commercial premises. The terrain was remarkably flat, rendering effective artillery support very difficult for Charles and his comrades. Before nightfall on the 12th, some advance had been achieved and had successfully driven back counter attacks with great loss to the enemy and destruction of some of his machine guns.

On the 13th, the 2nd Corps wheeled right, pivoting on Givenchy to get astride the La Bassee-Lille Road near Fournes to threaten the right flank and rear of the enemy. Little progress was made. Sir Henry Smith-Dorrien mentions the fine fighting of the Dorsets and the gallantry of the Artillery, in particular, so Charles work was recognised.

During the 14th the Commander of the 3rd Division General Hubert Hamilton was killed. The battle continued in the same direction for 2 days.

On the 16th the move continued until the left flank of the Corps was in front of the village of Aubers, which was strongly held. The village was captured the next day, as was Herlies, on the point of the bayonet.

The Second Corps was believed have been opposed by the 2nd, 4th, 7th, and 9th German Cavalry divisions, supported by several battalions of Jaegers and a part of the 14th German corps.

On the 18th powerful counter attacks were made by the enemy all along the front of the Second Corps. They were repulsed most gallantly but only slight progress was made.

During this battle Charles William Thrasher was ‘Killed in action’.

His time at the Front had lasted for only a week.

Notes:

There is a difference in the date of his death between the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (13/10/1914) and in De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour 1914-1924 (18/10/1914). It may be that the written figure is not clear and has been interpreted differently.

His entry in De Ruvigny reads: Thrasher. C, Gunner No. 74090, R.F.A. Served with the Expeditionary Force in France, killed 18 October 1914.

He is remembered at the Le Touret Memorial in the Pas de Calais, NNE of the town of Bethune.

After the War he was awarded 3 medals, Victory, British and 14 Star.

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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