On this day in 1917, John Charles Earl (1886-1917) was killed in the Battle of Passchendaele in the Great War.
John Charles – who was known as Charles – was a private in the 1st Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. He was 31 when he lost his life.
He initially enlisted in the North Somerset Yeomanry in Yeovil and was transferred to the 1st DCLI in the summer of 1917.
He was sent to the front in early October 1917 and was almost immediately involved in the Battle of Passchendaele – part of the Third Ypres offensive – which raged between October 26 and November 10, 1917.
Charles was reported wounded and missing on November 6, 1917, although it took almost a year to confirm that he died that day.
The Western Gazette, on November 30, 1917, reported that his wife – of 16, North Terrace, Newtown, Yeovil – had ‘received a letter from a Wesleyan chaplain in France, stating that her husband has been wounded and missing since November 6 but no official news to this effect has been received from the Record Office, although letters sent to him have been returned marked “Wounded: allocation uncertain”. He…had only been in France about four weeks.’
On October 11, 1918, the newspaper reported that his wife had ‘received an official notification from the War Office stating that no further news could be found regarding her husband’ and he was now presumed killed.
Charles is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium and on Yeovil and Cove (Tiverton) War Memorials.
Charles was the son of coachman John Earl (1862-1957) and Elizabeth Ann Roberts (1863-1915), who for many years lived at Court Place Farm Cove, Tiverton. Elizabeth was the daughter of John Roberts (1822-1896) and Elizabeth Hawkins (1832-1912). John was the son of William Roberts (1791-1875) and Frances Hodge (1796-1873). William was the son of John Roberts (1766-1834) and Elizabeth James (1767-1861). John was the son of William Roberts (1738-), my great-great-great-great-great grandfather.
Born in 1886 in East Anstey, Charles was baptised there on March 7, 1886. In 1901, he was living with his uncle, William Roberts, a grocer and shopkeeper in High Street, Dulverton, and working as a grocer’s apprentice. He moved to Yeovil and was living with the family of cheese manager John Wallis at 16, North Terrace, Newton in 1911. Working as an assistant grocer, Charles married John’s daughter, school teacher Henrietta Matilda Wallis (1886-1983), in 1914 in Yeovil.
Tyne Cot Memorial on which Charles is remembered. Pictured on August 5, 2014 by Gary Blakeley (CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons). https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tyne_Cot_Commonwealth_War_Graves_Cemetery.jpg