Charles Chambers (1891–1916)


Leicestershire Regiment 8376 2nd Battalion, A Company
7th Merrut Division
Indian Expeditionary Force

Derbyshire Courier 15 February 1916

Newspaper photo of Charles Chambers WW1

Charles was born at Market Harborough in 1892, the son of George and Jane Elizabeth Chambers. He enlisted in the Leicestershire Regiment in June 1908, aged eighteen, when he was working as a shoe-hand. He spent some time in the UK with his regiment before leaving for India in March 1910 aboard RIMS Dufferin.. By then his parents had moved to live on the Common, Crich. At the outbreak of the war he was stationed in India, later transferred to France then to Egypt. He was hospitalised due to gas poisoning in Sept 1915. In Jan 1916 he died of wounds at Basra. He has no known grave, but is listed on the Basra Memorial in modern-day Iraq, and on the war memorial at Crich.

RIMS Dufferin

RIMS Dufferin

Charles returned from India four years later in March 1914. He then entered France in March 1915. After suffering gas poisoning the following September he received treatment at Boulogne Military Hospital. In November the Regiment left Marseilles for Basra, stopping off in Egypt en route. Arriving in Basra in November 1915, he died of wounds received in action on 7th January 1916. His personal effects of a belt and Princess Mary’s gift box were sent to his mother in Crich.

Princess Mary gift box

Princess Mary’s gift box was sent out at Christmas 1914

Medal Rolls Index
Awarded the Victory, British War and 14-15 Star medals.

Army Service Record
He enlisted in the Leicestershire Regiment in June 1908 as an eighteen-year-old shoe-hand. He was five foot nine inches and weighed 139lb. His left arm was tatooed, he had brown eyes and hair and was a Wesleyan. His parents were George and Elizabeth Chambers, The Common, Crich. He was with the Expeditionary Forcr to India between August 1914 and January 1915 after which he was sent to France between April 1915 and November 1915. In November 1915 he was back with the Mediterranean Expeditionery Force until he was killed on 7 January 1916.

29/08/08 to 16/09/08 Leicester
16/09/08 to 05/01/10 Shorncliffe
05/01/10 to 05/03/10 Aldershot
05/03/10 to 27/03/10 RIMS Dufferin
28/03/10 to 11/02/11 Belgaum
13/02/11 to 04/02/13 Madras
11/02/13 to 13/03/13 Bareilly
14/03/13 to 29/09/13 Ranikhet
03/10/13 Bareilly
23/3/14 Ranikhit
27/04/15 Joined Battalion in the field
25/09/15 Admitted field hospital with gas poisoning
01/10/15 Discharged from Boulogne Hospital and joined his Battalion
10/11/15 Embarked Marseilles
17/11/15 Arrived Alexandria
23/11/15 Embarked Port Suez
08/12/15 Disembarked Basra
07/01/16 Died of wounds received in action

In 1921 Elizabeth Chambers received Charles' 1914-15 Star medal. A form, dated 26 January 1917, requested that his personal effects were sent to Mrs Elizabeth Chambers of Crich. On 4 July 1918 his belt and Princess Mary's gift box was sent to his mother. Another form dated 28 November 1919 gave Mrs Elizabath Chambers addess as c/o Mrs Pettison, Smith Street, Riddings.

Newspaper report

Derbyshire Courier, 3 July 1915
From a Crich Soldier at the Front
To the editor
Sir, – as it Crich boy and reader of the "Courier," I should like to tell you something for your Crich readers. We are out for a rest now and I can tell you we have earnt it after 12 days in the trenches. I had a good laugh at the other day when a coal box came over and knocked a dixie off the fire. But it spilled no "poaney1," so we had an early-morning "charr" after all. The best way to make an Allemande look over the parapet is to shout "waiter." It's four to one he will look over and it doesn't half make him nasty. This is going to be a long job, but the boys don't care – the fruits are getting ripe. I should like to see here a few more of the men at home who are going on strike for more money. There are heaps of us who have never had a days leave. We came straight from India and some of us have been in India for years. I was there five years. I tell you there will be a rub for some of them when the boys do come home. I wish to thank the vicar of Crich for the parcel which we thoroughly enjoyed. The cakes were such luxuries out here. Up you go in the best of luck – that is the motto out here, especially if you don't know the old doll trick. But we shall win. – Yours etc.
Pte C.Chambers
A Co. 2nd Leicesters
7th Merrut Div.
Indian Expeditionary Force
23rd June

1 Note: The word "poaney" was probably the Hindi word "parnee" which was water. So, the dixie can was knocked off but no water was lost so they were able to have adrink of tea.

Derbyshire Courier, 10 April 1915
From a Crich Soldier at the Front
To the editor
Sir, as a constant reader of your valuable paper I am writing a few lines of the life we have in France. We have a nothing but rain this last day or two. I have met a lot of the boys coming from Chesterfield and district and they are as happy as when watching the town team playing football. I think the Germans are getting played out. We had a concert last night. A big English actress bought a company over and it was very nice too. I am an old Crich lad, one of the Indian boys. Roll on Blighty: – yours etc.
C Chambers (Private)
2nd Leicestershire Regiment
Indian Expeditionary Force

Derbyshire Courier, 2 October 1915
Crich Soldier Suffering from Gas Poisoning
The first news to reach the "Derbyshire Courier" concerning local soldiers who took part in the big advance during the weekend came to hand on Wednesday morning in a postcard bearing Tuesday's postmark, from Private C. Chambers of Crich.
Private Chambers, who is in the 2nd Leicestershire Regiment, wrote: "We have been amongst it again. Our battalion lost heavily, but the German losses must have been heavier. We took three lines of trenches at ––, and captured hundreds of prisoners. Gas and smoke bombs we used. It was awful. I am in Boulogne Hospital now suffering from gas poisoning." The postcard has been passed by the censor.
In a postcard to his mother from Boulogne, Private Chambers says: "I am weak. I don't know whether I shall get home or not."

Derbyshire Courier, Saturday 12 February 1916
A Persian Gulf Loss.
Mrs. E Chambers of Wesleyan Chapel Lane, Crich, received news on Thursday
last week of the death of her son, Pte C. Chambers of the 2nd Battalion
Leicestershire regiment, the sad intelligence being conveyed in an official
notice from the Lichfield Record Office. The supreme sacrifice was made on
the sixth or seventh of January, death resulting through wounds received in
action at the Persian Gulf. Pte Chambers was 24 years of age and had been in
the army since about his eighteenth year.
At the outbreak of war he was stationed with his regiment in India and he
was early transferred to France with the Indian Expeditionary Force. Since
his arrival there he had taken part in a tremendous lot of fighting and over
a year ago he was wounded in the thigh. He recovered and came over home for
a short stay prior to going into active service again, and after a further
spell of fighting he was once more put out of action, the result of gas
poisoning. This occurred at the big advance in France about the end of
September, and he was removed to Boulogne Hospital. From there he wrote to
the "Derbyshire Courier," giving the first news of the "push," He looked
forward each week with keen interest. for the "Derbyshire Courier" which was
sent on from home.
A pathetic coincidence is that his mother received a letter from him on the
day of his death, stating he was quite well at the time of writing his

Leicestershire CC War Memorials site
On Charles Chambers record is the following War Diary Extract –

PD. The War Diary for today records. At 11.12am orders were received that the attack would shortly be renewed on both banks. In the meantime enemy?s line was subjected to bombardment from 28th Bty ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY. Orders were received to renew the attack at 2.00pm, the Battn moving forward as soon as 53rd SIKHS were seen to leave their trenches. The 92nd PUNJABIS had now been attached to the Bde to support the attack on the left of the Battn. A and B Coy?s advanced in short sharp rushes, supported by C Coy, D Coy being kept close up in reserve under cover. The advance progressed in spite of very strong opposition and D Coy was thrown in, the whole Battn finally carrying out the assault successfully over about 300 yards. Two of the Battn machine guns pushed along the nullah X Y towards X, greatly assisted the advance in first enfilading Turkish trench P and later distributing their fire along trench Q. The Battn was splendidly supported throughout by one section of the 28th Bty ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY, the F.O.O. advancing with his telephone immediately in rear of the Battn. The enemy?s trenches were occupied and quickly put in a state of defence, while, from both ends of these trenches a line of entrenchments was extended for some considerable distance, the left flank being well turned back. About 80 prisoners were taken by the Battn, and a large quantity of rifles, ammunition, equipment etc. Many dead and wounded Turks were found in the trenches. The Battn buried 62 enemy dead on its section of trenches. Enemy sniped to some extent during the night from our left flank. The following casualties among officers occurred during this days operations. Officers killed Lt DOWDING and Lt ROYCE. Wounded Capt SUTHERLAND, 2nd Lt BILLINGS, 2nd Lt BELLE and 2nd Lt BUCKINGHAM. Other ranks killed and wounded on operations of the 6th and 7th January totalled 303.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Initials C
Nationality United Kingdom
Rank Private
Regiment/Service Leicestershire Regiment
Unit 2nd Bn
Date of Death 07/01/1916
Service No 8376
Grave/Memorial Reference Panel 12

War Graves certificate for Charles Chambers in WW1

Soldiers' Effects Book
Charles Chambers; 2nd Bn Leicestershire Reg; Private 8376; killed in action Persian field 6.1.16; War Gratuity £18 4s 10d' paid out to:
25.1.17 mother Elizabeth £24 4s 10d
8.11.19 mother Elizabeth £8

[note: his father must have remarried after 1901]


1901: Hinkley, Leicester

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
George Chambers Head 39 Brickmaker Oxendon, Northants
Jane Chambers wife 31   Clipstone, Northants
Charles Chambers son 9   Market Harboro

RG13 piece 2964 folio 120 page 30

1911: Military; India

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
Charles Chambers Private 21 2 Leicester Regiment Leicester

RG14 RD 641 piece 34987 page 7