Charles Christopher Edkins

Rank Private
Service No 9397
Date of Death 07/05/1916
Age 27
Regiment/Service Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry 1st Battalion
Memorial Basra Memorial, Iraq. This commemorates more than 40,500 members of Commonwealth forces who died in operations in Mesopotamia between 1914 and 1921 and whose graves are not known.

 

Military records indicate that Charles was born in Leeds, Yorkshire in 1889. His parents were John Henry Edkins (1861-1943) and Eliza Ann Matilda Berry (b.1860), who were married on 21st December 1887 in St John the Baptist Church, Leeds. In the marriage register it states that his father was a widower and worked as a tailor.

At the time of the 1891 census, Charles’ father, aged 29, is living as a boarder in a house in Clifton, Bristol, and working as a tailor. He is married but his wife and son are not resident.

At the time of the 1901 census, his father is living at 29 Ferrell Street, Bristol, and working as a tailor at home. He is listed as married but neither his wife nor Charles are resident. Charles now has two younger siblings, Isabel, aged 5, and Dorothy, aged 2, who are listed as living at the address.

At the time of the 1911 census, Charles’ father is living at Rock Cottage, No 11 Marlbrough Hill, Bristol. He is still working as a tailor and married to Edith, aged 41, The details of their children are listed as follows: Isabella, aged 16, Dorothy, aged 13, and John Henry aged, 9. The entry states that they had been married 24 years and had three children, all of whom are alive. This is a mystery as Charles is their son, still alive and military records reveal that during the First World War he lists his address as Marlborough Hill, Bristol.

Nothing is known of him before 1914, except that he joined the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry 1st Battalion sometime between 1907 and 1911. He enlisted in Bristol and resided at Cowley Barracks in Oxford, at the time of the 1911 Census.  

In August 1914 Charles’ battalion was in Ahmednagar, India. On 27th November it moved to Mesopotamia. On 29th April 1916 the battalion, numbering some 400 men, was captured after the surrender of the garrison at Kut-el-Amara. Charles died of ‘illness, while a prisoner of war’. The Siege of Kut Al Amara (7 December 1915 – 29 April 1916) was the besieging of a British-Indian garrison in the town of Kut, 100 miles south of Baghdad, by the Ottoman Army. 70% of the British and 50% of the Indian troops died of disease or at the hands of their Ottoman guards during captivity. Only 71 of all ranks of the 1st Oxford and Bucks, who had been taken prisoner, returned home to the UK. The historian, James Morris, described the loss of Kut as "the most abject capitulation in Britain’s military history."

Charles’ link to Finchley remains unknown.