Private Charles Keith NADEN

Northumberland Fusiliers
1st/6th Battalion (Territorial)
Service Number:
Date of Death:
13 April 1918 - Died of wounds
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
V. A. 10.

Personal History:

Charles was born in the September quarter 1899, the son of David (Foreman in Lime Works) and Alice Jane (née Norton) Naden. In 1901 (Census RG 133270) he was living with his parents and older sister, Dorothy, at his grandparents' house (Charles and Charlotte Naden) at 109 Green Lane, Burbage, Buxton.

Ten years later (1911 Census RG 14/21237) they were at the same address and another son had been added to the family, Geoffrey Matthew Henry. Charles' father, David, died in the December quarter 1913.
'The Buxton Advertiser' (27 April 1918) reported that Charles ('Charlie') had been on the "Head Office staff of Buxton Lime Firms, was formerly a loyal member of Burbage Church choir. On Sunday afternoon the Lads Bible Class held a memorial service in remembrance of their former member." The week before, in reporting his death, 'The Advertiser' had called Charles: "... one of the best-known and esteemed youths of the village ..." and went on "He was a most inoffensive young man, ever ready and willing to do a kindness to anyone, and was almost idolised by all who knew him."

'The Buxton Advertiser" (18th May 1918) printed part of a letter to Charles' mother from Sister E. G. Brooks, of the New Zealand Stationery Hospital, which said, in part:

"Your son was admitted on the night of the 12th, and died early the next day, the 13th April. He was very badly wounded, and nothing could be done, but he died peacefully in a hospital with sisters and medical officers to do what they could for him, so that may be some consolation.

He was buried in the Military Cemetery at Longueness, so some day you may be able to see the grave. I am indeed sorry for you."

Military History:
According to the SDGW database Charles enlisted in Buxton. 'The Buxton Advertiser' (27 April 1918) reported that Charles had enlisted "... in September last ...", i.e. September 1917. It added, rather obviously, "... and had been in the battle zone only a short time." However, based on his estimated date of birth, Charles must have been called up almost immediately he was 18 years old.

The 1/6th Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers formed part of the Northumberland Brigade, Northumbrian Division and had landed in France in April 1915. In May 1915 the Division became the 149th Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division.

On 28th March 1918, during the great German Spring offensive, The Northumberland Fusiliers were in action at The Battle of St Quentin, 21st - 23rd March, closely followed by The Battle of Rosières, 26th - 27th March. Fighting alongside the 1/6th were the 1/4th and the 1/5th Battalions.

The War Diary of the 1st/4th Battalion shows that on Sunday, 7th April (referred to by Private Foster below), they were in Gonnehem, before marching on to Robecq, Merville and Arrewage the following day. At 9.30 a.m. on the 10th Charles' 6th Battalion received orders: ".. to counterattack towards PONT LEVIS and drive the enemy out of ESTAIRES. They passed through the line ... and drove the enemy back to the church in Estaires and Pont Levis but were threatened on the left flank."

After being driven back on the 10th, the 1/6th were again ordered to: "... move forward and counterattack ..." on the afternoon of the 11th, but at 2.00 a.m. on the 12th orders were received for the Brigade to withdraw and take up positions astride the Neuf Berquin Road. The 6th Battalion took up positions on the right. As night fell orders were again received to withdraw and all three Northumberland Fusiliers Battalions marched into Vieux Berquin and on to Latir. By this time, however, Charles had received wounds which were to cost him his life.

'The Buxton Advertiser", 18th May 1918, (see above) printed part of a letter from one of Charles' friends, Pt. J. B. Foster, written to his mother, giving details of the action where Charles received the wounds from which he subsequently died. Private Foster was himself in Hospital in Wiltshire. The letter said, in part:

"We went in action on Sunday morning. I shall never forget it, for we went straight into the counter attack and took a small town off the Germans called ---------, and we took it with very few casualties. …… On the Friday I met Charlie again: he was carrying ammunition for a Lewis machine gun. We had to dig in so I began to dig a hole for both of us. While I did so I lent Charlie my rifle and told him to keep a look out because they were firing all the time. As soon as I had dug a nice sized hole we both got in. We saw something move about 500 yards in front. I let fly and saw the German drop. Then Charlie said, "Lend us th' gun a minute". He let fly as soon as I gave it to him and said, "Didst see him drop?" I said "Yes".

We saw about 50 going across a field right in front of us, and we had a bit of rapid fire and there wasn't many got through. I and Charlie fired in turns. We had orders to retire and as soon as I got out the hole I stopped one and down I went. Charlie came to me and it while attending to me he got hit. However, he was able to walk, so I asked him to go and get attended. Stretcher-bearers carried me off, and since then I heard nothing of my friend until this morning. I deeply regret his death, for we had been good pals since we met at Derby the day was called up."

The same article confirmed that Charles died in the New Zealand Stationery Hospital on the 13th April 1918, having been admitted the day before, Friday the 12th, and was buried in the nearby Cemetery at Longueness. 126 other men of his Battalion died in the period 9th - 13th April, plus 104 from the 1/5th and 62 from the 1/4th Battalions. Most deaths occurred on the 10th and 11th. 233 of the casualties have no known grave and are commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial.

· The Buxton Advertiser, 20th and 27th April 1918 and 18th May 1918
· I am grateful to David Lau (via the Great War Forum) for the photo of Charles' grave
· ..... and to Glyn Warwick for the extracts from the 1/4 Northumberland Fusiliers War Diary

Link to CWGC Record
Charles Naden's Grave
Pt. Charles Naden