Alexandra,  Princess   of   Wales's   Own

Lt Col Bernard Hedley Charlton. M.C.
Wooden Cross Donated to the Green Howards Regimental Museum.

Lt Col Bernard Hedley Charlton. M.C.

[The photographs on this page have been kindly contributed by David Charlesworth.]

Bernard Hedley Charlton was born on the 22nd May 1885 at Guisborough, N Yorks.
His Father, William Charlton, came from nearby Eston and was a Mining Engineer and Manager of the local Spawood Ironstone Mine. He gained the name of "Ratchet Willie" when he introduced a new drill in the mines.
Bernard's Mother, Francis Elizabeth [nee Bartlett] came from Islington, Middlesex. The family lived at West Garth, Westgate, Guisborough.
He attended Guisborough Grammar School and as a boarder, Rossall School, Fleetwood, Lancashire, where he was Captain of the Bisley Team. He went on to graduate as a Mining Engineer at the Royal School of Mines.
At the 1911 census, age 25, he was working in this capacity in one of the Ironstone Mines near Guisborough.
He had already joined the local defence force, for when the Territorial Force was established on the 1st April 1908 and became the 4th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment Bernard is shown as a Second Lieutenant. No doubt this was in the "D" Company at Guisborough.

Some time between 1911 and 1914, he was appointed Manager of Messrs S B Samuelson’s Hedley Hope Collieries, Co Durham.
He continued to serve with the 4th Yorks Bn and in May 1914 was given the Command of one of the Companies.
A local newspaper reported his presence on the 14th Jan 1915 at the funeral in Guisborough of fellow Officer, 2nd Lt A J B Richardson, who had contracted cerebro-spinal meningitis on service.
Captain B H Charlton was with the Battalion when they first went out to France on the 18th April 1915 and were almost immediately involved in the Second Battle of Ypres when their charge at Fortuin and defence alongside the Canadians prevented a German breakthrough.
On the 25th May 1915 in another German attack on trenches astride the Menin Road outside the village of Bellewaarde, he was badly gassed and spent some time in Hospital.
On the 28th October he was appointed Adjutant of the 4th Battalion and on the 10th November mentioned in Despatches. On the 16th of November 1915 he was married to Dorothy Frances, daughter of Mr C H Joliffe of Newbus Grange, Darlington.
In the New Year's Honours List for 1916 he was awarded the Military Cross.
He was presented with a gold watch by the citizens of Tow Law for this, proof, if any were needed of how much the people at home were behind a War which was bring great hardships at home.
At Kemmel on the 16th June 1916 he was wounded when the 4th Yorks Bn suffered a heavy German bombardment of their trenches.

Headstone in Roisel Communal Cemetery Extension.

Plaque in St Philip & St James' Curch,
Tow Law, Co Durham.

By September 1916 the 4th Yorks Bn were involved in the latter stages of the Battle of the Somme. Bernard had by this time been promoted to Major and was signing the War Diary as the Officer Commanding.
During 1917 the Battalion were involved in fighting at Arras and from October in the final stages of Passchendaele, Ypres. Major Charlton was again mentioned in Despatches.
On the 27th December 1917 he was given official Command of the Battalion and promoted to the rank of Acting Lt Col.
In March 1918, with Russia out of the War, the Germans were able to bring their Divisions from the East and with a great superiority in numbers make a final drive to win the War on the Western Front.
At the Battle of St Quentin the 28 British Divisions were driven back many miles by the 76 German Divisions towards Amiens and the 50th Division, of which the 4th Yorks were a part, were placed in the centre of this offensive.
On the 22nd March Lt Col Charlton was killed in action.
The Battalion War Diary says that in a thick misty morning Companies had lost touch with each other and "Lt Col Charlton along with Adjutant Capt J S Bainbridge had gone up to rally the Company on the Left."
The writer of his obituary in the Green Howards Gazette said:-
"Colonel Charlton’s death will be much felt in the Battalion, in which he took the keenest interest. Zealous, tactful and full of sound common-sense, he possessed the complete confidence of those who were privileged to serve under him; he was the type of Officer that can ill be spared. To have risen so quickly through the officer ranks he must have been a very confident and capable man. How sad he was never able to fulfil his potential like so many others of that generation."
He was just 32 years of age and his grave can be seen today in Roisel Communal Cemetery Extension on the road to Villers-Faucon.

The Auckland and County Chronicle dated 28/7/1921 recorded the unveiling of the Church Memorial:-
"There was a large congregation present on Friday night at the Church of SS. Philip and James on the occasion of the unveiling and dedication of the Church War Memorial.
The memorial, which takes the form of a section of new panelling, together with brass tablet, the latter containing the names of those associated with the church who fell in the Great War, was unveiled by Mr. W. Charlton, of Guisborough, whose son, the late Major B. H Charlton, figures in the honoured list.
Immediately following, the Lord Bishop of Durham, Dr. Hensley Henson, dedicated the memorial and gave an appropriate address. The choir rendered a suitable anthem the soloist being Mr. J. A. Lister. The Revs. T. H. E. C. Espin, T. B. Weatherall, H. J. Humphreys, and others also assisted at the service."

Wooden Cross in the Regimental Museum, Richmond, N Yorks and presented by St Philip & St James' Church, Tow Law, Co Durham, its previous home.

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