Charles Peck - Passchendale Memorial Service
ALL SAINTS CHURCH, CHELSWORTH: 11.45am on Monday 25th September
On 25th September 1917, the 4th Suffolks were at Ypres and subject to intense shellfire while advancing to support other troops in the front line where they suffered many casualties. Charles was killed in action on that day at the age of 19. Charles’ name features on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium.
100 years on, we shall be remembering the battle and Charles Peck at a service at All Saints Church at 11.45am on Monday 25th September being organised by Dain Keating. The service will be led by Reader Nicola Tindall and we have a bugler from the British legion to play The Last Post and Reveille; there will be a display of relics and memorabilia from WW1 and hopefully an officer from Wattisham to read a piece.
Charles was born in Pakenham, Suffolk on 12 November 1897. He lived there until around 1908 when his parents Alfred, a thatcher, and Kate moved to Hitcham with their four children. Charles was 14 when he and his family moved to Chelsworth late in 1911; they lived in one of the cottages at Chelsworth Common. His younger siblings, Eleanor and William, went to the village school and Charles found work as an under-gardener at Chelsworth Hall.
He enlisted at Sudbury, probably late in 1915 or early 1916 when he would have been 18 years old. He embarked for France with the 2nd Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment on 1 March 1917.
The 4th Suffolks took part in an attack near the village of Guemappe during the ‘Second Battle of the Scarpe’, part of the Arras offensive; 315 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing. Charles was injured on 23 April, suffering gunshot wounds to his arm and legs. He re-joined his Battalion on 25 September 1917, when the 4th Suffolks were at Ypres and subject to intense shellfire while advancing to support other troops in the front line where they suffered many casualties including 19 year old Charles, killed in action on 25 September 1917.
Charles’ name features on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium. He is also commemorated on a memorial in Chelsworth Church that was unveiled on 20 June 1920. More details about his regiment can be found at: www.suffolkregimentmuseum.co.uk
The Third Battle of Ypres, known as Passchendaele, in 1917 remains a benchmark of unsurpassed horror. Hundreds of thousands of men had their lives terminated or ruined for a few square miles of battered mud. The hellish nature of the battlefield and the claustrophobic intensity of the fighting concentrated into such a small area meant that the scars of Passchendaele were never healed in those who survived.
'No name in history has ever had so dreadful a significance for so many human beings as that of Ypres. It was not so much that you were more likely to be killed there than anywhere else – and Ypres gathered in a harvest of more than half a million casualties – as that it reduced life to the lowest terms of misery and hopelessness. Every yard of that featureless slab of landscape held the menace of death' A J Cummings