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Charles Freeman, Age 24

Corporal, 200205, 1/4th Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry.

KSLI cap badge
K.S.L.I Regiment Cap Badge.

Charles and James were the sons of Susan Freeman who according to the 1901 census was raising her family on her own at 54 Old Park, one of their sisters was Mrs W Hawkins who had lost her husband (died of wounds) earlier in the war (27/6/15). Their regimental numbers suggest that they enlisted in the 1/4th KSLI territorial's at the same time. After being based in Singapore 1/4th landed in France in May 1917.

On November 20th 1917 the British launched an attack at Cambrai which was led by an assault of over 300 Tanks, Although the attack caused panic in the German lines and the prospect of a break-though, after a few days the Germans managed to stop the advance in part due to the British not having enough reserve troops to push the attack home. It must be remembered that at this time the final death throes of the Third battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) were being played out, a battle that had cost the British over 400,000 casualties.

The Germans having stopped the attack at Cambrai then counter attacked and it was during this phase of the battle that the 1/4th battalion found themselves defending positions at Welsh Ridge. It was a battle that was going to cause much heartache in the Dawley district with at least 11 men being killed or dying of wounds as a direct result of the battle of Cambrai, This figure includes 5 men killed in action on the 30th December 1917 at Welsh Ridge and 2 others that succumbed to their wounds on the 31st Dec and the 1st Jan 1918

Charles and James both lost their lives on December 30th. James had earlier won the Military Medal for Bravery, when after his Officer had become a casualty had led his platoon over the top. James had lost his rifle and so led this charge swinging a shovel. The announcement about James MM appeared in the Shrewsbury and Wellington Journal on March 2nd 1918 - 2 months after his death.

A fellow soldier Pte A.E Corbett also wrote home in early December saying that "We have been very busy lately. I suppose you know that Sgt Freeman has won the MM - he has well-earned it as he did some very good work in the big push. We are out for a rest now which we can do with very well for the cold weather here is playing the bear with our lot - it is not Hong Kong, this time last year we were hot, this year we are too cold".

Freeman C 200205 pollie Mary freeman
Charles Freeman. Mary Hawkins

Extra Notes:
There mother Susannah died in February 1915, Charles left hie pension to his marred sister Pollie Hawkins, but she used the name Mary,

WWI Medal Rolls Index Card

WWI Medal Rolls Index Card

It was only in death that the two brothers were separated, Charles body was never found and he became yet another name on the Thiepval memorial (Panels 12a & 12d)

Commonwealth War Graves
Commemorated Thiepval Memorial


victory-medal britishwar-medal
Victory Medal British War Medal