Anderson, Charles Edward. Died 20th Jul 1916

The correct Charles Edward ANDERSON, who died in 1916, was only identified in July 2018, after the biography of another soldier of the same names who was killed on 31 August 1918 had been prepared.  That other soldier had no obvious connection with Rugby, although this was also the case for many men who came to Rugby to work between 1911 and 1914.  The correct ‘Rugby connected’ Charles Edward Anderson is now listed, albeit some two years after the centenary of his death.


Charles Edward ANDERSON was born in Shanghai, China, on 31 December 1890.  He was the second son of William Henry Anderson, b.c.1846, a merchant in Shanghai, and Anne Rose, née Wood, Anderson, b.c.1859 in Manchester.  They had married on 12 March 1885 at St Wilfred’s church, Northenden, Lancashire.  He was then 39 and the son of an ‘author’; she was 24 and the daughter of an ‘Engineer’.  After their marriage, William and Anne returned to China, where their four children were born: William Rose Wood Anderson, b.c.1886; Barbara Angustine Mary Anderson, b.c. 1888; Charles Edward Anderson, b. 31 December 1890; and Gordon Richard Fabian Anderson, b.c.1892.

It would appear that when the children approached secondary school age, their mother returned to England with them to continue their education.  For the 1901 census, they were in Bedford.

Charles attended Bedford Grammar School, now Bedford School, from 1903-1908.  At about the date that Charles left Bedford School in 1908, it seems that the family moved from Bedford to Rugby.  His father may have returned at some slightly earlier date as in May 1909 he had been in Bedford when he attended the Rugby Territorials Dinner, ‘… Capt. W. H. Anderson of Bedford (late Shanghai Volunteer Corps.), …’.[1]

By May 1909, there are records of the rest of the family being in Rugby, and it seems that when Mrs Anderson opened a sale of work for the New Bilton Parish Room, she was introduced as ‘… niece to the late Mr R H Wood, and the patroness of the living, …’.[2]  It seems that the ‘Advowson’ for New Bilton, together with the Rokeby Estate, was passed in R H Wood’s Will[3] to his Trustees for the use and income of Anne Rose Anderson, in addition to a sum of £10,000 that she had received.  The family moved to Rugby so that she could better perform that role and benefit and live on the Estate.  Her uncle, Mr R H Wood,[4] – and thus Charles Anderson’s great-uncle – had been a considerable benefactor to the town of Rugby and had founded and largely financed the Hospital of St Cross.

After school in Bedford, Charles went on to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst and passed out into the Gordon Highlanders in October 1910.

The family was not listed in the Rugby Advertiser, Rugby Post Office Directory, until 1911, ‘Anderson Mr, The Lodge, North Street.’  The previous year the house had been noted as occupied by Capt. H. H. Dundas.

In fact in early 1911, Charles’ father, William Henry Anderson, had died in Rugby, leaving Charles’ mother a widow.   For the 1911 census, she was living at The Lodge, which was now listed as being in Park Road, Rugby, and it seems that all her children were there, supporting her on census night.

In 1911, the eldest son William was a ‘medical student’.  The medical registers show that he had matriculated in September 1903 in London and was registered on 11 October 1910 and studied at St Bartholomew’s Hospital from 3 October 1910.  He was still living at ‘The Lodge’ in 1912,[5] and joined the Lawrence Sheriffe Lodge of the Masons on 20 February 1912.  During the war he was commissioned, first in the Royal Field Artillery, then transferred as a temporary Captain in the 5th Bn. Royal Warwickshires, and then became a major in the Indian Army Reserve of Officers.  He went to France on 1 April 1915.  He died aged 48 in London in 1928 when resident with his mother at Flore House, Weedon, Northants.

In 1911, the youngest son, Richard Gordon Fabian Anderson, was still at school but would later join the army and also receive a commission in the Royal Welch Fusiliers (RWF).[6]  He went to France on 11 or 13 August 1914 with the 2nd Bn. RWF.  He was wounded 26 October 1914 at La Cordonnerie by a fragment of shrapnel in the head, and this seemed to have had a lasting effect, although he continued to serve in the army.  After the war he studied law at the Inner Temple.  He died in 1975.

The next year, 1912, ‘Mr. Anderson’ was still listed in the Directory, although the address was now given as ‘The Lodge, Park Road’.  In the 1913 edition, he was still listed, but the family had now moved to Rokeby House, Barby Road, Rugby.  It was not until 1917 that the Rugby Almanac had realised that Mr Anderson was dead and listed ‘Anderson, Mrs., Rokeby House, Barby Road, Rugby’.

In 1911, Charles, then aged 20, had been at home on census night and was enumerated as a ‘2nd Lieutenant H M Army’.  In the Army List of 1912, Charles was recorded as having had his first promotion [in June 1912] to Lieutenant in the Gordon Highlanders, and for the Army List of 1915, he had been promoted again [in April 1915] as a Captain in the Gordon Highlanders.  His Army File is available at The National Archives[7] but has not been consulted at present as sufficient information is available for this brief summary.

When at home ‘Captain Anderson was a keen follower to hounds, and when on leave hunted with the Atherstone and North Warwickshire Hounds’.[8]

The 2nd Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders had been in Cairo in August 1914 and Charles Anderson was probably with them.  They returned to England, landing Southampton on 1 October 1914, and then moved to Lyndhurst and came under command of 20th Brigade in 7th Division.  Being already in the army, and with his Battalion, Charles was one of the first to go to France, and a few days later on 7 October 1914, they landed at Zeebrugge.

The Regimental War Diary is available at the National Archives, filed under the 20th Brigade.[9]

‘He was wounded at the first battle of Ypres, in October 1914, and again slightly on 14th July last [1916], but remained on duty, and was killed by a shell on the early morning of 21st.[10]

In later June the Battalion was in trenches in the Bois de Tailis area, preparing for an offensive.  It was very wet and on 30 June they prepared to attack Mametz village, but the attack on 1 July was held up by enemy wire and machine guns.  With reinforcements from 2nd Warwicks, Mametz was taken together with 600 prisoners.  On 6 July the battalion went to Ribemont to reorganise.  On 12 July they marched to Pommiers Redoubt.  On 14 July they moved to Mametz Wood, but the attack by others was successful and they were not required, however an enemy counterattack meant they then had to attack and clear the north-east part of the wood.  There was heavy shellfire and it was possibly then that Charles was ‘wounded slightly’.

On 20 July the Battalion was at Bazentin-le-Grand and at 3.35am they advanced with parts of High Wood as their objectives.  The front line came under heavy rifle and shell fire, and ‘only one officer and five ORs from one platoon returned’.  It seems likely that it was on this evening that Charles Anderson was killed in action.  They were not able to advance and called for reinforcements, and that evening the Battalion was relieved by the 1st West Kents.  They then marched to Dernancourt, where they rested, before marching to Mericourt and entrained for Ailly-sur-Somme.

In the week 14 – 21 July 1916, the Diary noted that two officers were killed and nine wounded.  The two officers are not named in the diary, although ‘asterisks’ suggest they may have been named elsewhere, but at 1am on 21 July, a Captain R D Oxley arrived and took over command.

He would have been replacing in part the two officers who had been killed.  Only two officers from the 2nd Bn. are identified as having been killed in that period.  Captain Charles Edward Anderson was killed on 20 July 1916, aged 20 years, and Lieutenant Colonel Bertrand Gorges Reginald Gordon, D.S.O., Mentioned in Despatches, aged 35, was also killed on 20 July 1916.

Charles was buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery, in the Somme, in Grave ref: K.5.  Alongside him, in Grave ref: K4, was buried Lt Col B G R Gordon D.S.O. – also of the 2nd Bn. Gordons who was also killed on 20 July 2016.  One of the photographs on the CWGC site[11] shows the group of five graves which include graves K4 and K5 at the right of the group with Charles’s grave on the furthest right.

‘Dernancourt is a village 3 kilometres south of Albert. … The Communal Cemetery is a little west of the village.  Field ambulances used the Communal Cemetery for Commonwealth burials from September 1915 to August 1916, … The XV Corps Main Dressing Station was formed at Dernancourt in July 1916, when the adjoining Extension was opened.’[12]

Charles’s gravestone has the added family inscription ‘PRO PATRIA’.

His Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1914 Star with the Mons clasp, recognising his participation in the earliest part of the war.

Charles Edward ANDERSON is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby, and remembered in Bedford, in the Bedford School Chapel, Burnaby Road, Bedford.
‘Charles Edward Anderson 1903-1908 / Captain 2nd Gordon Highlanders / Killed in Action in France 20th July 1916 / Aged 25’.

Probate was to his mother, Ann Rose Anderson, widow, in London on 29 September 1916, which recorded his address as Rokeby House, Rugby.  His ‘effects’ were valued at £8429-8-5d.

His mother seems to have been active in ‘good works’ from her arrival in Rugby and well into the war, she was often assisted or accompanied by her daughter, Barbara, and their joint presence helped to identify these activities.  Although the family is not included in the Directory until 1911, it seems that they had been in Rugby from at least early 1909, and probably soon after Richard Henry Wood’s death in early 1908.

In May 1909, a Grand Bazaar, in aid of the new Parish Room for New Bilton, was opened by the Patroness of the Living, Mrs. Anderson.[13]

In October 1910, ‘Mrs Anderson of the Lodge, the patroness of the living’, gave away the prizes at the St Oswald Church School prize giving and her daughter presented prizes to the infants.[14]  Then in December 1910, the presents to the hospital included [from] … Miss Anderson, The Lodge, Scrapbooks.[15]

In January 1915, Mrs and Miss Anderson were among those at the Christmas Eve celebrations with the Belgian refugees who were staying at Newton House,[16] and they were also present for the tea and entertainments by the New Bilton Branch of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families’ Association.[17]

In 1916, Mrs Anderson was vice president of the Co-operative Guild which gave an annual treat to the children of the members including those of homes under the management of the Guardians.[18]

In January 1916, ‘Mrs and Miss Anderson, (Rokeby House),’ assisted the Rugby Comforts fund at the Drill Hall, with the gathering for the wives and children of the local territorials.[19]

On 10 July 1917, Mrs Anderson opened the New Bilton Food Economy Canteen.[20]

Rokeby House had been the family home from about 1913 until 1924, although the Directory could have reacted slowly to changes, as seen earlier!  Latterly Charles’s mother moved from Rugby and then before 1928 was at Flore House, Weedon, Northants and either for some short time before, or possibly after that date, she was at Pattishall House, Nr. Towcester, both of which addresses were given for her after the war.

She later moved to Efford Park, near Lymington, Hampshire, where she died on 21 December 1940.  Administration was to her youngest son, Richard, by then a retired major, and her daughter Barbara, who had remained a spinster.  Her effects were valued at £33024-6s-6d.



– – – – – –


This article on Charles Edward ANDERSON 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, July 2018.

[1]      Rugby Advertiser, 30 October 1909.

[2]      Rugby Advertiser, 22 May 1909.

[3]      See:

[4]      Richard Henry Wood was born on 6 February 1820 and died on 8 February 1908.  An illustrated obituary was published in the Rugby Advertiser, 2 May 1908; a piece on his earlier life and riding skills, published in Baily’s Magazine, June 1907, was as quoted in the Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 8 June 1907.  See also, or transcription of RA 2 May 1908 obituary at

[5]      Kelly, Directory of Warwickshire, 1912.

[6]      Fuller details are available at and in TNA file ref: WO 339 11095.

[7]      Captain Charles Edward ANDERSON, The Gordon Highlanders, The National Archives, ref: WO 339/7706.

[8]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 5 August 1916.

[9]      WO 95 – 7 DIVISION, WO 95/1656 – 20 Infantry Brigade, 2 Battalion Gordon Highlanders, TNA ref: WO 95/1656/2, 1914 Oct. – 1917 Nov..

[10]     Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 5 August 1916.


[12]     Edited from

[13]     Rugby Advertiser, 18 May 1909.

[14]     Rugby Advertiser, 15 October 1910.

[15]     Rugby Advertiser, 31 December 1910.

[16]     Rugby Advertiser, 2 January 1915.

[17]     Rugby Advertiser, 9 January 1915.

[18]     Rugby Advertiser, 8 January 1916.

[19]     Rugby Advertiser, 15 January 1916.

[20]     Rugby Advertiser, 14 July 1917.

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