Charles Bradlaugh JONES’s place of birth was recorded variously as being in Leyton, Poplar or Stratford, London. He was born some while after the April 1881 census. His father Frederick was a cooper.
In 1891 he was enumerated as aged eight and was living with his widowed father and four siblings at 285 High Street, Stratford, London.
By 1901 his father had also died and Charles and his younger siblings were living at 11 Durham Row, Ratcliffe, London, the home of their married elder brother Henry and his wife Elizabeth and baby daughter Lillian. Two of Elizabeth’s younger siblings were there also. Charles and his elder brother were both working as hairdressers.
By 1911, Charles was now ‘30’ and boarding with the Hessian family at 65 Grosvenor Road, Rugby, and that was no doubt where he met his wife to be, Ellen Daisy Hessian, one of the daughters of the house. Her father was an engine driver. Charles was then still working as a hairdresser.
Some time before the war Charles seems to have had a change of occupation, going to work at British Thompson Houston (BTH) in their Lamp Factory. Then in 1914, when he was about 33, he married Ellen, now 29; the marriage was registered in Rugby [Rugby, Q3, 1914, 6d, 1551].
It is uncertain exactly when Charles ‘joined up’. There are no surviving Service Records, but as he did not win the 1915 Star, it was probably after late 1915. Various men from BTH with the name Jones joined up and served in 1914, however an item in the Rugby Advertiser stated, ‘Jones, Charles, 36 Sandown Road, Rugby’ ‘… enlisted at the Rugby Drill Hall under the Group system’, in late 1915, and this confirms the approximate date when he joined up.
As noted, Charles was living in Rugby, but records also suggest that he enlisted initially in Warwick, as Private, No.32852, in the 1st Battalion (Bn.) of the Gloucestershire Regiment. The 1st Bn. had been at Bordon in August 1914, as part of the 3rd Brigade in the 1st Division, and landed in France at Le Havre on 13 August 1914, well before Charles joined up. The 1st Battalion probably continued to act as a recruiting, training and reinforcement centre in UK.
Charles would later be posted to the 1st/6th Bn. of the Gloucestershire Regiment. The 1st/6th Bn. had been at St Michael’s Hill, Bristol, in August 1914 as part of the Gloucester and Worcester Brigade of the South Midland Division. On mobilisation they moved to Swindon and very soon after to Maldon in Essex. On 30 March 1915 the Battalion landed at Boulogne, and on 15 May 1915 became part of the 144th Brigade in the 48th (South Midland) Division.
It seems likely that Charles was posted to the Battalion as part of the reinforcements at some date in 1916 and may soon have been involved on Western Front, possibly in the Somme offensive of July 1916, and then may have taken part in the pursuit of the German Army in their retreat [or ‘tactical withdrawal’] to the Hindenburg Line in March 1917.
Later in 1917, the 1st/6th Battalion was involved several of the actions making up the Third Battle of Ypres from 31 July to mid-November including: the Battle of Langemarck; the Battle of Polygon Wood; the Battle of Broodseinde and the Battle of Poelcapelle (9 October 1917).
The Battalion War Diary gives details of their later movements and actions. From the beginning of September 1917, they had been at School Camp, in St Jan Ter Bizen, to the west of Poperinge, Belgium, not far west of Ypres. Then on 18 September the Battalion travelled west to Zutkerque, France – suffering various delayed trains – to take part in Divisional and Brigade training until the end of the month. At the end of September 1917, the Battalion’s ration strength was 802 men. The diary continued:
1 October – ‘Battn. … moved by Rail to Brake Camp. Entraining Staion Audricq. Detraining Station Vlamertinghe … ‘C’ Company working party buried cable …’.
‘C’ Company continued burying cable for the next two days.
4 October – ‘Battn. Moved to Canal Bank …’
5 October – ‘ Battn. moved to Dambre Camp in the morning.’
6 October – ‘In Camp.’
7 October – ‘Battn. Moved to Irish Farm 8.30am. Heavy rain afternoon and evening. Battn. Moved back to Dambre Camp 4.30pm.’
8 October – ‘Battn. Moved to Front Line and relieved 1/1 Bucks …’
This was in all in preparation for the Battle of Poelcapelle (9 October 1917) one of the actions of the Third Battle of Ypres.
9 October – ‘Battn. Attacked 5.20am. See Appendix ….’
The Appendix gives copies of both the Orders and a Report on the attack on the morning of 9 October 1917. Brief extracts from the Report are given below:
First Wave – ‘A’ Company on the Right, ‘B’ Company on the Left. Second Wave – ‘C’ Company on the Right, ‘D’ Company on the Left. … two platoons of each Company being in each line.
Objectives – First Wave … gun pit … special parties to capture 2 Mebus … and redoubt, … special parties to capture Vacher House and gun pit … Second Wave … Berks Houses … assist 7th Worcesters in capture of Mebus … assist 4th Gloucesters in capture of Berks Houses.
Three hours before Zero, the whole Battalion was in position … about half an hour before Zero, enemy shelled Winchester line fairly heavily but this fell just behind second wave and only four casualties occurred.
Zero – 5.20am First wave got away well with the barrage, followed at about 300 yards by second wave. Enemy at once opened M.G. fire all along the line, …
Considerable detail followed, and the assault appears to have been comparatively successful with considerable numbers of the enemy and their equipment captured, however the Report also noted:
Estimated casualties of ‘B’ Company … 1 officer … 45 other ranks … Estimated loss of ‘A’ Company … 2 Officers … 50 other ranks … Estimated losses of ‘C’ Company … 2 Officers … 55 other ranks …
The War Diary noted on the next day:
10 October – ‘Battn. Relieved by 26 Brigade … Returned to Siege Camp via temporary shelter at Irish Farm.’
Overall during October the Battalion had lost 56 men killed or died of wounds and 153 were wounded and 42 missing. Despite the Battalion receiving a ‘draft’ of 79 new men during the month, by the end of the month the Battalion ration strength had dropped from 802 to 633.
Charles Bradlaugh Jones was one of 141 men from the Gloucestershire Regiment who died on 9 October 1917, most of them from 1st/6th Bn. during the attack, and the fighting of the Battle of Poelcapelle. Like so many others, his body was either never found, or was not identified.
He is remembered with his comrades on one of the Panels 72 to 75 of the Tyne Cot Memorial. The Tyne Cot Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Whereas those who died before 16 August 1917 are remembered on the Menin Gate, the United Kingdom servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot. Charles is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby, on the BTH List of ‘Employees Who Served’ and on the BTH War Memorial.
On 7 February 1918, Charles’s Widow, Ellen, received £1-7-9d owing to her husband, and then a War Gratuity of £3-0-0d on 9 December 1919.
Charles’s Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM
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This article on Charles Bradlaugh JONES was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, June 2017.
 Men named ‘Jones’ were listed in Rugby Advertiser, 5 and 26 September 1914 – probably others of the same name.
 This was under the Lord Derby’s Recruiting Scheme, he is listed in Rugby Advertiser, 27 November 1915.
 The National Archives, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Gloucestershire Regiment 48th Division, Piece 2758/2: 1/6 Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment (1915 Apr – 1917 Oct).
 The List is that published in the Rugby Advertiser, 4 November 1921.