Biography of Private Charles Ernest Wells (26285)
8th Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment
Formerly 1st Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment
Died 10th April 1918


  • Name: Charles Ernest Wells
  • Date of birth: 1884
  • Place of Birth: Byfleet, Surrey, England
  • Date of Birth Registration: January – March 1884
  • Place of Birth Registration: Chertsey, Surrey, England

  • Name: James Wells
  • DOB: 1842
  • Place of Birth: Manthorpe, Lincolnshire, England
  • Occupation: Road labourer


  • Name: Mary Ann Smith
  • DOB: 1850
  • Place Of Birth: Uffington, Lincolnshire, England
  • Marriage: 6th July 1874 Witham on the Hill, Lincolnshire, England

Siblings: (Name), (DOB), (POB)

  • Louisa Watts, 1869, Uffington (Half Sister)
  • Arthur Edward Wells, 1875, Manthorpe
  • Sarah Elizabeth Wells, 1877, Byfleet
  • George Thomas Wells, 1878, Byfleet
  • James Warren Wells, 1879, Byfleet
  • Henry Frank Wells, 1882, Byfleet
  • Charles Ernest Wells, 1884, Byfleet
  • Robert Moysey Wells. 1887, Byfleet
  • Frances Mary Wells, 1889, Walton
  • Frederick William Wells, 1891 Thurlby
  • Emma Eleanor Wells, 1893, Manthorpe

  • 1891: Charles is living with his parents in the High Street, Thurlby, Lincolnshire.
  • 1901: Charles is living with his parents in a cottage (Toll Bar) in Manthorpe, Lincolnshire.
  • 1911: Charles is living with his parents at the Cross Roads Cottage, Manthorpe, Lincolnshire. The census gives him an age of 26 and he is listed as a farm labourer.

Relatives in services


  • Name: Nellie Fulcher
  • Date of birth: 1889
  • Place of Birth: Barton, Lancashire

  • Date of Marriage: 1916
  • Place of Marriage: Guisborough District

Wife’s parents

  • Father: James George Fulcher
  • Mother: Harriett Styles

Newspaper Mentions

  • War Office Weekly Casualty List March 5th 1918
    Wells 26285 C. E. (Huddersfield)


  • Grantham Journal 15th June 1918
    WELLS – Killed in action, April 10th, Charles Ernest Wells. fourth son of James Wells, Toll Bar, Manthorpe, Bourne, aged 34.

Military Records

Attestation Papers

  • Available
Soldier’s Died In The Great War

  • These records show that Private Charles Ernest Wells, 26285, 8th Bn North Staffordshire (Prince of Wales’s) Regiment was killed in action on 10th April 1918 in the Western European Theatre in France and Flanders.

Pension Records

  • Available

Effects Left To

  • Widow Nellie


  • The British Medal
  • The Victory Medal



  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
  • In memory of Private Charles Ernest Wells, 26285, 8th Bn., North Staffordshire Regiment who died on 10 April 1918 Age 34
  • Son of James Wells, of Cross Rd. Cottage, Manthorpe, Bourne, Lincs.; husband of Nellie Wells, of 19, Thornhill Rd., Marsh, Huddersfield.
  • Remembered with honour, Tyne Cot Memorial
  • Panel 124 to 125.

© Picture taken by South Lincolnshire War Memorials

© Picture taken by South Lincolnshire War Memorials

Military Service Timeline

  • Today we remember Charles Ernest Wells of Witham-on-the-Hill, who died on this day 10 April 1918 aged 34 whilst serving with the 8th Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment.
    Born in 1884, Charles was the son of James Wells, born in Manthorpe in 1842, and Mary Ann (nee Watts), born in 1850 from Uffington. James and Mary were married in Witham-on-the-Hill on the 6th July 1874.
    By 1877, the family were living in Byfleet, Surrey where James was working as a farm labourer on the 1881 census. Before 1891, the family had moved to Thurlby.
    They went on to have ten children:
    Arthur Edward (born 1875, Manthorpe)
    Sarah (1877, Byfleet)
    George Thomas (1878, Byfleet)
    James Warren (1879, Byfleet)
    Frank Henry (1882, Byfleet)
    Charles Ernest (1884, Byfleet)
    Robert Moysey (1887, Byfleet)
    Frances Mary (1889, Walton)
    Frederick William (1891, Thurlby)
    Emma Eleanor (1893, Manthorpe).
    After a short stay in Thurlby, where James was working as a general labourer, the family then moved to Manthorpe. The 1901 census shows them to be residing at Toll Bar Cottage. Charles is recorded to have left school and was working as a carter on a farm. In 1911, the family moved once again but stayed in Manthorpe, and are living at Cross Roads Cottage. Charles and Arthur are the only children still living at home, Arthur working as a domestic groom and Charles as a farm labourer.
    On 6th June 1916, Charles was called up for service and attested at Grantham. His given age was 31 years and 123 days and his occupation was a carter. On enlistment, he joined the North Staffordshire Regiment, and was immediately transferred to the 4th North Staffordshire Regiment. 3 days later he was posted as Private to the 11th Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment.
    On the 11th June, Charles’ forms were completed and these show his address as 26 Wharf Road, Stamford. To the question of if you have any preference of service, his answer is transport driver.
    Four months after enlisting Charles married Nellie Fulcher at the parish church in Marsh, Cleveland, Huddersfield, Yorkshire on 29th October 1916. At the time Nellie’s address was given as 14 Temple Street, Templeborough near Sheffield.
    Only four days after getting married, Charles’ home service ends and the next day he is posted to the 8th Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment and leaves for France. On his arrival in Calais, Charles is immediately posted to the 1st Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment.
    The next entry we find for Charles is when he is admitted to a Field Ambulance on the 1st February 1917. Information suggests that Charles has been admitted for Furunculosis. He was soon moved to the 3rd Canadian General Hospital in Boulogne for ‘’Boils’’ (Furunculosis) and then on to the 25th General Hospital in Hardelot. After recovering in hospital, Charles is placed back with the 12th Brigade at Calais on the 17th March and re-joined his Battalion in the Field.
    Over the next few months, the 1st Battalion is involved in the Battles of Arras (Vimy Ridge) in April and then on to Belgium for June when they are involved in the Battle of Messines Ridge.
    On the 26th July 1917, Charles is once again admitted to hospital, this time the 55th Hospital in Boulogne for ‘’Boils’’. He is moved around between general depots during August and eventually his records show that he returns from hospital on the 31st August 1917.
    One week later he is posted to the 8th Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment who are in camp at Bellebrune East of Boulogne.
    In September the Battalion is moved to Westoutre on the France Belgium border between Balieul and Poperinge. Here Charles spends many days practicing manoeuvres before entering trenches around Hill 60 on the 19th September. This is in preparation for the following days, and the Battle of Menin Ridge, part of the 3rd Battle of Ypres also known as the Battle of Passchendaele. The Battle of Passchendaele was officially over in November and on the 23rd Charles was granted leave.
    The Battalion moved to Campagne, South- east of St Omer and were out of the line for the beginning of December before being moved to Etricourt Trenches and Nine Wood on the 8th December, moving between here, the Hindenburg Line and Havrincourt for the rest of December and January.
    On the 19th January 1918, the Battalion were in the front line near to Ypres and Havrincourt. They were routinely going in and out of the trenches. On the 19th they were moved in to support the right sector at Wood Trench.
    On the 20th, they were relieved by the 8th Gloucestershire Regiment and then moved back to Eastwood Camp in Havrincourt Wood.
    On the same day, Charles was admitted to hospital with a shotgun wound to the arm. Three days later he arrived at the 10th General Hospital in Rouen for further treatment.
    Charles could not have been back in the lines for long after his wound, when on the 13th February he was admitted to a Casualty Clearing Station with another gunshot wound. This time he was in hospital for eight days and discharged on 21st February 1918. On leaving hospital, Charles was granted furlough (extended leave). His address was now entered as Crossroad Cottage, Manthorpe. The furlough record shows that he is now considered as fit for duty.
    The 2nd March saw the end of Charles’ furlough and he was posted to the 3rd Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment, possibly at Wallsend, to await further orders. The regiment dispatched his occupation card on the 27th March and by the 4th of April Charles was to rejoin the BEF in France, embarking and disembarking on the 5th April. Two days later, 7th April, and Charles was being posted back to the 8th Battalion, B company, of the North Staffordshire Regiment who were now in Wulverghem on the Messines sector of the line.
    The Battalion Diary has the following entries:
    9th April 1918- Wulverghem
    Orders for relief of the 8th Glosters in right sector which was to take place that night were cancelled at 12 noon and Battalion ordered to stand by ready to move at short notice. Later news was received that the enemy had broken through on the Laventie front and 19th Division was ordered to concentrate in Ravelsberg area.
    Major Martin went to Divisional Headquarters liaison officer, but later the CO was sent forth command the 56th Brigade and Major Martin was recalled to command the Battalion
    10th April 1918 – Wulverghem
    Operational orders were issued at 3am for the Battalion to move off to Aldershot Camp at 5:15am but about 4am news came through that the enemy was attacking on our front and Battalion was ordered to stand by awaiting further orders.
    57th Brigade issued orders for two of our companies to move up at once and occupy the corps front and support lines in front of Messines and A & B Companies moved off to do so. B- Front Line, A- Support.
    The enemy however by this time occupied the Eastern edge of Messines and these two companies after making a very good attempt to get through the village were obliged to occupy O.G front line in T.6.b and Battalion Headquarters was established in dug out at T.6 C4.b
    Situation on flanks was obscure and about 2pm C & D Companies moved up into line, and position from R to L was roughly C.A.B.D with centre on road at Hospice which situation remained the same throughout the night. A S.A. Brigade counter attacked Messines at about 7pm with success but was unable to hold on and withdraw to our line.
    On this day the Battalion suffered heavy casualties – Captaincies Meir & 2nd Lt Lucas being killed and Lt Deane, Shopley & Wake wounded & about 150 other ranks killed and wounded.
    On the 11th and 12th April the Battalion and the whole line withdrew back and were ordered to hold a line north of Lindenhoek.
    Private Charles Ernest Wells was killed in action on 10th April in the action we have just had described to us in the Battalion Diary, only three days after being posted back to his Battalion.
    The Grantham Journal, dated Saturday 15th June 1918 reports as follows:
    ‘’WELLS_ Killed in action, April 10th, Charles Ernest Wells, forth son of James Wells, Toll Bar, Manthorpe, aged 34.’’
    Charles’ effects and military medals were given to his wife, Mrs Nellie Wells of 19 Thornhill Road, Marsh, Huddersfield.
    Charles’ brother Henry, also fought and died during the First World War. His service and final resting place is still being researched into.
    Charles is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial. As he is commemorated by name on the walls of the Memorial rather than with an identified headstone, it is either that his body was not recovered from No Man’s Land, or that he was buried but could not be named so therefore lies under an unidentified headstone.
    The Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing forms the boundary to the Tyne Cot Cemetery, located 9 kilometres north east of Ypres Town. This is one of four memorials to the Missing in Belgian Flanders, which covers the area known in the war as the Ypres Salient. The Salient was formed during the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914. There was constant fighting on this area of the Western Front throughout the entire duration of the war. As a result of this, it became apparent that the commemorations of members of the Commonwealth forces with no known grave would have to be divided between several sites.
    This began with the Menin Gate, but when it was known that more space would be needed to include all the names, an extension of this was chosen to be at Tyne Cot. Any soldier who died after the 16 August 1917 is commemorated here. Tyne Cot significantly marks the furthest point reached by Commonwealth forces in Belgium until nearly the end of the war.
    The Tyne Cot Memorial commemorated almost 35,000 soldiers whose graves are not known. The memorial was designed by Sir Herbert Baker, with sculpture by Joseph Armitage and F. V. Blundstone. A ceremony took place on the 20 June 1927 where the memorial was unveiled by Sir Gilbert Dyett.
    Charles’ name can be found on Panel 125.


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