Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1916, Private Charles Roberts, 1st Battalion, the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, was killed in action on the Somme.
The youngest of three children of cotton weavers, he left school at a young age to work as a cotton spinner. When Private Roberts was three years old his brother William died, followed a year later by their father. His sister Mary married Fred Holden, who was to be killed in action in 1915 while serving with the 7th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment; Mary had predeceased him in 1912. So at the time of Private Roberts’ death, his mother, poor and illiterate, had lost almost her entire family – her grandson, Mary and Fred’s son, was in the care of a guardian appointed by Fred before he went off to fight. By 1914 Private Roberts had left the mill and was working for the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Company at the Kirkham and Wesham railway station.
After the outbreak of the Great War, Private Roberts enlisted, and in January of 1916 was sent to France. His service papers have not survived, so little is known other than that he was killed in action during his battalion’s involvement in the Battle of the Somme. He is buried in the Becourt Military Cemetery at Becordel-Becourt on the Somme; his mother arranged for “Pray for his soul” to be carved on his gravestone. He is also remembered on the war memorial in his home town.
Charles, from Kirkham in Lancashire, was 24 years old.