Biddulph & District Genealogy & Historical Society Biddulph Grange

Biddulph and the Great War

'There Shall Be In That Rich Earth A Richer Dust Concealed'

'We Will Remember Them'

Private Charles Thomas Mellor

38037 9th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment formerly 18084 North Staffordshire Regiment killed in action February 25th 1917 Age 43


Charles Thomas Mellor was born in 1875 in Congleton, Cheshire and was the son of Charles and Ann Mellor, née Williams. They had married in 1871.

Charles was baptised at Mossley Church near Congleton on November 7th 1875. Ann was his father’s second wife. His first wife Hannah Brindley, whom he had married at Astbury in 1853, had died in 1863 leaving Charles with four children. Ann and Charles had three children; Charles Thomas was their only son.

In 1881 he was age five living at 63, Willow Street, Congleton with his parents aged 54 and 41. His father had been occupied in the silk industry but later was employed as a farm labourer.

By 1891 the family were residing in Failsworth, Lancashire. They had probably moved to gain employment and the family now comprised father Charles, mother Ann (retired silk spinner), sisters Eliza, 19, and younger sister Frances age 12. Charles at 15 is an apprentice jacquard maker. The family appear to have been separated following the death of Charles Mellor senior around 1891.

In 1903 Charles married Fanny Hancock at St Peter’s Church in Congleton. Fanny was born in Mow Cop the daughter of Luke and Mary Hancock.

By 1911 the couple had been married for eight years and had one child, daughter Frances age seven. Charles, now 35, was a worker in sheet iron at the local rolling mill. The family were living at 62, High Street in Harriseahead.

At the time of the Great War Charles was living at Harriseahead with his young family. He initially served in a battalion of the North Staffordshire Regiment, his regimental number being 18084. A family member has informed us that Charles originally enlisted at Tunstall and at some point transferred to the 9th battalion Worcestershire Regiment. This battalion had earlier embarked for the Dardanelles on July 13th 1915, so Charles must have gone out with a draft replacement joining the battalion at a later date.

After training at Blackdown the draft sailed through the Mediterranean to Egypt before sailing on to the Dardanelles, arriving on September 21st 1915. From here the new troops would join their battalion who as part of 13th Western Division had served on the Gallipoli Peninsula since July. Charles (or Tom as he was also known) is believed to have met the battalion at Suvla Bay. Reconstruction of the defences was carried out in the area and on December 19th the lads were withdrawn for seven days rest in the Helles area.

At the start of 1916 there were terrible blizzard conditions and on January 7th the enemy made their last attack of the campaign. A few days later the 13th Division were evacuated from Helles and by January 21st had left Gallipoli and sailed aboard HMT Varova to Port Said in Egypt. The war was now over in the Dardanelles. The battalion now enjoyed bathing and good food to restore their vigour and morale. Then for a short period the troops were used in the defence of the Suez Canal until orders came to transfer the division to Mesopotamia.

February 12th 1916 found the division on a sea journey to the Persian Gulf aboard HMT Marathon. Charles and his mates were in the harsh desert as part of an army being assembled to relieve the garrison at Kut al Amara on March 27th. This action came under orders of the Tigris Corps who were based at Sheikh Saad camp. Months of bitter fighting followed but the action failed and Kut al Amara fell to the enemy. The Tigris Corps spent the rest of the year rebuilding their army. With boiling hot days and bitter cold nights the battalion only wore light desert drill without their greatcoats. The 7th North Staffords were also in the same division and Charles could very well have met up with other Biddulph men.

Next a ten day route march, with mules pulling their waggons loaded with ammunition, food supplies and water tanks. By December 13th 1916 the soldiers prepared again for battle and the Corps was now ready for further attacks in the Hai salient and Kut al Amara. These actions went on into the New Year and were to be successful, but before its conclusion, the 9th Worcestershire battalion lost many brave soldiers. The first week of 1917 found the battalion at rest in the “Worcester City Camp”. Through January new trenches named Kings, Queens and Emperors were prepared under shelling and close enemy fire, to protect the troops.

The division were now ready for the next offensive, a brave joint assault with the 9th Worcestershire and 7th North Staffordshire battalions attacking side by side at the Dahra Bend, Shumran Peninsular and Diyala. It was hoped that this action that would clear the road to Baghdad for the final push to the city. Nearing the end of this offensive sadness again came to the battalion when on February 25th 1917, at the age of 43, Private Charles Thomas Mellor fell on the Mesopotamian battlefield.

A report in the Congleton Chronicle stated that he “joined the colours in July 1915 and after about 2 months training in this country was sent to the Dardanelles From there to Mesopotamia, where he saw serious fighting being killed on February 25th 1917.

A memorial service was held by the Brown Lees Welcome Committee for Private Mellor.

Charles has no known grave and is commemorated on the Basra Memorial in Iraq, the St Lawrence memorials and the Albert Square Memorial in Biddulph.

Kathleen Walton & Michael Turnock.

A list of all the medals awarded to the men of the Biddulph area has been compiled and can be viewed here.


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