Charles Richard Sharpe (2nd April 1889 to 18th February 1963)

 

Entering this cemetery in Newport in Lincolnshire I glanced in the large basket bin reserved for dead flowers and found some full packets of biscuits. I put them in the car to feed to the foxes that night at home. The cemetery was hemmed in by houses which I wasn’t expecting. To get there I’d driven through so much flat rural Lincolnshire that I assumed the cemetery would be in the middle of the countryside.

 

I was here to find Charles Sharpe who was born nearby. He was just a kid of sixteen when he ran away from home to join the army. He’d been soldiering for about decade by the time he was sent to northern France to fight on the Western Front in November 1914. By May 1915 he was an acting Corporal was fighting in the Battle of Aubers Ridge, a joint British/French attempt to exploit a vast diversion of German troops (unsuccessful - the Germans won this one.))  On Sunday 9th May 1915 at Rouges Bancs Charles was in charge of a party of soldiers ordered to advance and attack part of a German trench about 50m long. Being in charge he ran ahead against oncoming bullets and bombs. Many of his men were injured of killed but Charles surged ahead, dodging anything meant to kill him. On arriving at the trench he started tossing bombs with such great effect he cleared the out every Germans soldier. He did it singularly as the rest of the soldiers behind him had been taken down. Another four men from the battalion joined him and using more bombs they attacked 230m long trench with much success.

 

Back at home King George 5th presented Charles with a Victoria Cross medal at Windsor Castle in Berkshire on 25th July 1915. Later he rose to Company Sergeant Major and left the army aged 49. Back in civilian life he took various jobs (including collecting rubbish), the main one being a physical training instructor at the Hereward Camp approved school. Oddly even though he survived over three decades as a soldier unscathed by a single bullet he was injured during the Second World War. A German bomber thought the school was a military camp and attacked it. Charles was injured by survived. He died aged 73 at Working Infirmary Hospital in Cumbria.

 

I wasn’t sure where to start looking for the headstone but I soon saw a military section and headed there. Charles’s was there but I was slightly disappointed to see there was no red wreath. I found a black feather lying on the grass and stuck it vertically in the soil, saluted heartily and left.

 

 

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Looking for Charles…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Touching the “VC”…and there it is…

 

I’ll go and have a quick look at some of Lincolnshire’s war dead…