Charles Joseph Cripps

Rank Private
Service No G/10659
Date of Death 03/11/1916
Age 25
Regiment/Service The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) 1st Battalion
Memorial Thiepval Memorial, in the Somme region of France. This commemorates some 72,000 UK and South African officers and men who died in the Somme sector before 20th March 1918 and for whom there is no known grave. Over 90% of those listed died between July and November 1916.

 

Charles was born in 1891 in Plumstead, South London. His parents were Joseph Cripps (1857–1932) and Eliza Emma Forrester (1864–1946). He was one of six children but by 1911 one of his siblings had died. At the time of the 1911 census, he was living with his parents and siblings at 16 Vineyard Terrace, Long Lane, Finchley. He was single and working as an electrician’s assistant in an electrical appliances shop.

Charles married Lily Choat, (1889–1968), who was the daughter of a shepherd. They had one child, Lily Kathleen (1914-2007). The Electoral Register of 1915, lists the family’s address as 88a Station Road, Finchley.

At the end of October 1916, Charles’ battalion were occupying bivouacs between Bernafay Wood and Trones Wood, some 12 kms east of Albert in the Somme region of France. On 30th they were ordered towards the front line near Guillemont, some 2-3 kms east. The weather was very poor and the state of the battlefield reflected this. Preparatory orders were issued to the effect that on 3rd November the 1st Queen's would attack a trench known as Baritska Trench. The battalion moved up into its positions at 4.15pm, but the difficult conditions meant that some elements took up to nine hours to reach their positions. The men were forced to stand in trenches with water above their knees, and had to be dug out of the mud after remaining stationary for any time.

Zero hour was set at 4pm on 3rd, however a preliminary bombardment by French field artillery lifted ten minutes early at 3.50pm. Following what must have been a lengthy pause, the 1st Queen's advanced on time. In spite of the difficult conditions, the battalion advanced well initially, but was then held up by heavy rifle and machine gun fire. Heavy casualties were taken, and the three companies that had taken part in the attack were forced to return to their starting positions.

Charles was one of the men who did not return from the battlefield, having been killed in action. His grave was never identified, and so he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.