2nd Lieutenant Charles Pelham Gardner Aldrich

Date of Birth 12 June 1895
Age at Death 21
Date of Death 7 October 1916
Service Number
Military Service 26th Battalion Royal Fusiliers
Merton Address 15 Darlaston Road, Wimbledon
Local Memorial Wimbledon Parish Church

Additional Information

Born in Roby, Liverpool on 12 July 1895, Charles Pelham Gardner Aldrich was christened one month later on 29 August. He was the son of Charles Aldrich and his wife, Mary. The couple also had four older daughters – Dorothy, Lilian, Margery and Elsie. In 1901 the family was living at St. Mary’s Road, Roby, in the district of Widnes. Charles snr was clearly a man of means, as his household included at least three household servants. By 1905 he had moved his family to 15 Darlaston Road, Wimbledon, possibly due to his work as a commercial traveller or salesman.

Between 1909 and 1913, Charles jnr attended Eastbourne College, a leading public school in East Sussex, founded in 1867 to educate the “sons of nobleman and gentlefolk” He appears to have been a good student, as he became head of the school’s Gonville House. He later went up to Caius College, Cambridge to read for the Engineering Tripos, graduating in 1914.

Following the outbreak of war, Charles volunteered for military service and secured an officer’s commission. On 29h June 1915, he was gazetted as a temporary 2nd Lieutenant and subsequently joined the 26th Royal Fusiliers. Formed in London in July 1915, this was often referred to as the “Bankers battalion,” as many of its members were former bank clerks and accountants.

Charles and his regiment were soon sent to France and posted on the Western Front. Between 5 and 7 October 1916, the men were involved in trench warfare near Guedecourt in the Somme region.
The regimental war diaries state that:
“At 1.45pm(Zero Hour) on the 7th the Battalion was in the assembly trenches and prepared to move forward. The artillery barrage on the German lines was very heavy, but owing to a steep bank immediately in front, was unobserved. On reaching the bank our troops were subjected to extremely heavy and brisk enemy machine gun fire. The enemy had evidently managed to push several of his machine guns forward of our barrage and our infantry advancing over the crest formed a very easy target for accurate shooting. We unfortunately suffered heavy casualties, but nevertheless the men continued to press forward under the very fine leadership of our officers”

Charles was killed on the third day of fighting. He is buried in the Australian Imperial Forces Burial Ground near, Flers, France. This was first established by Australian medical units, posted at nearby caves between 1916 and 1917. Charles is also commemorated with a monumental inscription at Wimbledon Parish Church.


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