Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Charles Henry Sharpe

Charles Henry Sharpe :

Charles Henry Sharpe : (L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

(L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

Charles was born on the 6th September 1890 in Gorton, Manchester. His father was called Alfred Henry and his mother was Agnes M. He had 2 siblings that we know of, older brothers called Frederick and Alfred William.

Alfred Henry worked as a joiner. In 1891 the family lived at 43 Prescott Street in Gorton. Ten years later they had moved to 20 Wainwright Street in the same area. Charles was not with the rest of his family when that year's Census was taken. We don't know where he was.

We believe Agnes died between then and 1911. In this year Charles lived with Frederick, his wife Ruth and her 2 children from a previous marriage at 4 Watson Street in Gorton. Alfred Henry also lived there. Charles worked 'on capstan lathe' for a company in the motor industry. The capstan lathe is a metalworking tool.

On the 16th August 1913 Charles married Gertrude Miller at the Registry Office in Chorlton, Manchester. They made their home at 28 Jack Street in Ardwick, Manchester. Their son Alfred William was born on the 29th September. Stanley was born on the 7th April 1915.

The First World War had broken out in August 1914. Charles joined the Army 7 weeks after Stanley was born, on the 28th May 1915. He chose to enlist in the Manchester Regiment and was given the service number 27066. Charles was working as a 'box inspector' when he enlisted. He was 5 feet 5 1/2 inches tall and weighed 133 pounds.

Charles was assigned to the Depot Company of the 16th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was one of 8 battalions formed by the men of the City of Manchester so that they could serve together. The Depot Company would be used to train new soldiers for the 16th Battalion once it entered combat.

In September the Depot Company was joined with the Depot Companies from the 17th and 18th Battalions to form the 25th (Reserve) Battalion. This moved to Prees Heath in Shropshire in November, then to Southport in Lancashire during December 1915.

The City Battalions crossed to France in November 1915 and soon found themselves in the front line, and taking casualties. They needed men from the Reserve Battalions. Charles was sent to France on the 20th February 1916. He joined B Company of the 18th Battalion on the 17th March. At the time they were based near Vaux in the Somme sector.

During the first half of 1916 the 18th Battalion trained to take part in the Somme Offensive. When this began on the 1st July the battalion attacked towards the village of Montauban.

The attack went well; the 18th Battalion captured Montauban and began the work needed to hold it against a German counterattack. The day had not been without danger though. A German machine gun was able to kill or wound around 100 members of the battalion. Charles was shot through the left foot during the fighting. We don't know whether he was wounded by this machine gun, or in some other way.

After treatment in France, Charles was returned to the UK on the 8th. He was sent to Edmonton War Hospital in Middlesex. He was discharged after 16 days and sent home on leave until the 3rd September. His address was 128 Newbank Street in Longsight, Manchester.

At home Charles was able to see his new daughter, Gertrude. She had been born on the 15th May 1916.

On the 22nd September Charles was posted to the 3rd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was a training unit. He must have been classed as unfit for active service though, as a week later he was transferred to the 2nd Garrison Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment. This was based at North Coates near Grimsby in Lincolnshire. It was made up of men who were able to guard areas of the country, but could not stand up to front line soldiering.

Sadly Gertrude died of bronchitis on the 14th February 1917, aged just 8 months. Her mother was with her when she died, and registered her death.

Charles returned to the Manchester Regiment on the 5th March 1917. After a short period with the 3rd Battalion he was returned to France on the 9th May. He joined D Company of the 17th Battalion. This suggests either Charles had recovered from his wound or he had been reclassified by the Army.

Shortly after Charles joined them the 17th Battalion left France and moved north to the Ypres area of Belgium. They then took part in preparations for the Passchendaele Offensive, which was scheduled to begin on the 31st July. The battalion was split into working parties that carried out jobs such as construction and excavation.

Although he doesn't seem to have spent much time in the front line, Charles was not safe. On the 30th June he was shot in the left shoulder, the left hand and the left leg. In early November he was evacuated to the UK.

Charles spent 25 days in Weymouth Military Hospital in Dorset. He was discharged on the 30th November and sent home on leave until the 10th December. His family now lived at 84 Newbank Street.

By the end of the year it was clear that Charles would never recover enough to return to duty. He was discharged as 'no longer physically fit for war service' on the 4th February 1918. He was awarded a Silver War Badge, with serial number 326214, to show that his discharge was honourable.

When he was discharged Charles was awarded a pension of 7 shillings and 6 pence (7/6) for 4 weeks. This was then reduced to 5/6 for the next 48 weeks. It would be reviewed at the end of this time, but we don't know whether Charles continued to receive money.

We don't know anything else about Charles' life. We believe he and Gertrude had 2 more children; Louisa between July and September 1919 and Ivy between January and March 1923.

Gertrude died between January and March 1951, aged 63. Charles lived for another 19 years and died aged 79 in 1970.

Charles' medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in around 1960.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council