Private Charles W Simmonds

Additional Information

Born in Stockwell on 4 September 1880, Charles William Cradock (Simmonds) was the eldest son of William and Eliza Cradock. His father was employed as a Railway Porter, and the family lived at 14 Heron Road, in Lambeth. Ten years later circumstances had changed, as Eliza had remarried to Arthur John Simmonds in 1890 at Christ Church in Clapham. Eliza is described as a widow, and her new husband’s occupation is recorded as a ‘Dealer’. The 1891 Census records the family, including Charles siblings, brother Alfred aged 5, and sisters, Rosina aged 6, and Gertrude aged 4, living at 1 Walpole Road, Colliers Wood. All the children still carried their father’s name of Cradock.

The 1901 Census records that the family had moved across the road to 2 Walpole Road, and Arthur’s occupation was a Horse Dealer. Charles was not living at home at the time, as he was included on the Census for the Canterbury Barracks as a Private serving with the 19th Hussars of the Line (Queen Alexandra's Own Royals). He had enlisted on 25th March 1901, but unfortunately was discharged barely three months later on 10 June 1901, as ‘being unlikely to be an efficient soldier’. His Service Papers records that he stood 5 foot 6 inches tall, weighed in at 116 pounds, had a fair complexion, and that his occupation was recorded as a Stableman.

By the time of the 1911 Census, Charles now 30 years of age, was again living with the family at Walpole House, 17 Cavendish Road, Colliers Wood. The family seemed to be fairly prosperous, as their address was a substantial seven roomed house. The family were joined by two more children, Frederick and Grace Painter, described as the niece and nephew of the head of the family. Charles was employed as a Turf Commission Agent - a person who placed bets on behalf of owners or trainers with bookmakers or turf accountants. He presumably worked alongside his stepfather, who was a Horse Dealer.

On 29 June 1915, Charles enlisted with The Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force at their camp at Barriefield in Ontario. It is not known how he came to be in Canada - he may have already been living there when the Canadians entered the War, or went to Canada especially to enlist. He enlisted under his stepfather’s name of Simmonds, and stated that he had never served in any other military force, which was not true. Men often listed under another name if they had been previously rejected (e.g. for medical or other reasons), which is most probably the case with Charles.

Charles joined initially with the 59th Battalion which was one of the new battalions formed to replace losses in the field. Upon arrival in England they were absorbed into reserve battalions, and sent in the field as reinforcements for the 1st or 2nd Divisions. On 15 March 1916 Charles transferred to the 4th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Central Ontario), which was one of four battalions that composed the 1st Brigade of the 1st Canadian Infantry

The 4th Canadian Battalion’s War Diary entry for 26 May 1916 at ‘The Bluff’ trenches, records that fifteen men were casualties of high explosive shells while on a working party in the ‘New Year Trench’. The trench was demolished, and the bodies of the men killed were not recovered until the evening. Presumably Charles was one of the casualties, as he died of wounds on the following day, 27th May 1916. He is buried in the Chester Farm Cemetery in Belgium, and commemorated locally at Christ Church, Colliers Wood. His Headstone, chosen by his mother reads: “Gone from us but not forgotten - Never shall his memory fade”.

The Electoral Register for Eliza and Arthur Simmonds, shows that the family, including Charles’ sister Gertrude, continued to live at 17 Cavendish Road until at least 1931 when records end. Eliza died in 1933 aged 79 while Gertrude died in 1976 aged 89, and Rosina in 1965.


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