Gartenfield, Charles Reginald. Died 25 Apr 1915

Charles Reginald Gartenfield was baptised on 3 March 1878 in Long Itchington. His father was Henry Goodrich Gartenfield, a police constable, who had married Charlotte Amelia Mary Ann Sullivan in Birmingham in 1872. In 1881 Charles was living with his parents in Long Itchington and elder brothers Henry and George. By 1891 Charlotte was a widowed nurse, living at 8 Chapel Street, Rugby. Charles R, aged 13, was a scholar at Ratcliffe Industrial School for Boys in Bath. (The 1857 Industrial Schools Act was intended to solve problems of juvenile delinquency, by removing poor and neglected children from their home environment to a boarding school.)

In July 1895 he joined the army, the Shropshire Light Infantry. He gave his age as 18 years 5 months, in fact he was a year younger. He was 5ft 6in tall, with a fresh complexion, grey eyes and light hair. The start of his service was troubled, as he was tied for various offences: striking a superior officer (1896), wilfully injuring property belonging to a comrade and using insulting language to his superior officer (1898) and drunkenness (1899). He served in India for 5 years and in 1904 applied to extend his service to twelve years. He returned to India for nearly four years and was then discharged on 12 Nov 1907, on termination of period of engagement.

By 1911 he was back in Rugby, boarding at 9 Lago Place. Aged 36 (actually 33) , he was a labourer at the B.T.H. works.

Sometime after the start of the war he was back in the army, this time in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He entered France on the 7 April 1915. Less than three weeks later he was killed in the second battle of Ypres.

Charles Reginald Gartenfield, Rugby Advertiser 29 May 1915

Charles Reginald Gartenfield, Rugby Advertiser 29 May 1915

Private Charles Reginald Gartenfield, service no. 3274, 1st Bn, Royal Warwickshire Regiment is listed on the Ypres, Menin Gate Memorial, panel 8. He was aged 37.

He is listed as Charles R Gartenfield on BTH memorial, but as C R Gardenfelt on Rugby Memorial Gates.




Second Battle of Ypres – Apr/May 1915

The Second Battle of Ypres started on 22nd April 1915 and lasted until 25th May. It was fought for the control of the strategic town of Ypres after the First Battle of Ypres that had been fought in autumn 1914.

It marked the first use of poison gas by the Germans.

The German Army released 170 tons of chlorine gas at around 5pm on 22nd April at Gravenstafel a hamlet north-east of Ypres. Cylinders were opened by hand and the wind carried the gas towards a 4 mile section of the allied front, held mainly by French troops. There were 6,000 casualties most of whom died within ten minutes. Chlorine gas combines with water in the lungs and eyes to form hypochlorous acid. Most died of asphyxiation or were blinded.

The operation was more successful than the Germans had foreseen but they were unable to take proper advantage of the gap created in the front line, due to a lack of reserves. The British lines began to collapse but the flank was defended by Canadian troops. Soldiers urinated into their handkerchiefs and put them over their faces, to counter the effects of the gas.

Canadian troops successfully counter attacked later that night, but over the following days the allied front line was driven back, closer to Ypres.

More information Here


German casualties from 21 April – 30 May were recorded as 34,933.
British casualties were 59,275.
The French had around 18,000 casualties on 22 April and another 3,973 casualties from 26 – 29 April.
Canadian casualties from 22 April – 3 May were 5,975 of whom c. 1,000 men were killed, the worst day being 24 April when 3,058 casualties were suffered during infantry attacks, artillery bombardments, and gas discharges.


James Beard, from Rugby, who was serving in the Canadian army died on 24th April and several Rugby men from the Royal Warwickshire Regiment died on the following days.


Another Canadian who took part in the Second Battle of Ypres was John McCrae. He was a gunner and medical officer. On 2nd May he had to conduct the burial service of a close friend and noticed how quickly poppies grew around the graves. The next day, sitting in the back of an ambulance, he wrote the famous poem: “In Flanders Fields”


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

 Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.