Every day on the British Army Ancestors Facebook page I take time to commemorate a British soldier. This post will look at three of the men I have remembered recently. From left to right, Charles Lovegrove, Alan Castle, and Charles Larking.
Three months after this photo was taken, Charles Lovegrove was dead, killed in action on the Somme. Born in Carshalton but living in Sutton when he enlisted, Charles almost certainly posed for this photo in David Knights-Whittome’s Sutton studio. The photo dates to the 10th July 1916 and Charles was killed in action on the 28th October that year. He has no known grave and is one of over 72,000 names recorded on the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme.
Alan McCartney Castle, a tailor’s assistant from Lee in South East London, enlisted in May 1915 with the Royal Naval Division and was dangerously wounded at Beaumont Hamel in 1916, receiving gunshot wounds to his right knee and hand. His service record in ADM/339/1 shows how close he was to dying in a hospital in Rouen:
4.12.16. Dang. ill (not doing well) 5th GH Rouen.
9.12.16. Dang. ill (not doing well) 5th GH Rouen.Next-of-Kin informed
[These status reports repeated every few days until…}
12.1.1917. Off dangerous list. Next-of-Kin informed
Alan’s right leg was amputated high at the thigh and by July 1917 he was on leave, pending admission to Roehampton for a fitting of his artificial limb. He was a chirpy and fit 89-year-old when I met him and took this photo in September 1981, and I was pleased to see some years later that he celebrated his 100th birthday with his wife and family.
Charles Gordon Larking was a humble private in one of the Royal Fusiliers public schools battalions when this portrait was taken of him on the 22nd February 1915, but he would be commissioned in the Royal Sussex Regiment before he ever set foot overseas. Later attached to the Machine Gun Corps he would survive the war and was still serving in the army beyond 1920.
Knighted in 1970 for services to the Royal British Legion (he had been its Treasurer since 1962), Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Charles Larking died in Maidstone in 1978 at the age of 84.