Tuesday, July 11, 2006
G/18963 Private Charles Buckwell, 6th East Kent Regt
Charles Buckwell is one of Chailey's forgotten men. He was born in Chailey village and killed in action 89 years ago today. He is not however commemorated on Chailey's war memorial and I have often wondered whether the fact that he was illegitimate had anything to do with this. This is his story.
Charles was born around May 1880 and features on the 1881 census of England and Wales as a ten month old infant living at Buckwells Cottage, South Street, Chailey. The head of the family is noted as his grandfather, Charles Buckwell, a 53 year old agricultural labourer and his two daughters: Elizabeth Buckwell (aged 23) and Caroline Buckwell (aged 21). Both the daughters are noted as being single and both working as general domestic servants. Elizabeth Buckwell though, was also Charles’ mother.
On the 1891 census, ten year old Charles appears living alone with his grandfather at South Street, Chailey. He is recorded as being a scholar.
By the time the 1901 census was taken, Charles (aged 20), was boarding with his mother and her husband and family. Elizabeth Ann Buckwell had married John Weller in 1883, their marriage being recorded in the September quarter of the Lewes register for that year. Charles is recorded as “carter on farm” and, besides his mother and step-father, shared the family home with the Weller children: George Weller (aged 15, working as a carter’s mate on a farm), John Weller (aged 13, also working as a carter’s mate on a farm), James C Weller (aged 11) and Ellen Weller (aged eight).
Having lived in Chailey for the first twenty years of his life, Charles Buckwell must have moved out of the village at some point after the 1901 census was taken. Soldiers Died in The Great War notes that he was living in and enlisted at Hastings in Sussex. He joined the 6th Buffs (East Kent Regiment), probably under The Derby Scheme, and became G/18963 Private Charles Buckwell.
Without further information at this time it is difficult to say when he went to France but he was killed in action there on 11th July 1917.
Charles Buckwell has no known grave and is commemorated on bay two of the Arras Memorial in France. He does not feature in Chailey’s Parish Magazine and is not commemorated on the village war memorial even though he was a native of Chailey and certainly spent his childhood and adolescent years there.
Charles Buckwell’s half-brothers George Weller, John Weller and James Charles Weller all served their King and Country during the First World War.
My thanks to Janet Graves for the photo of Charles Buckwell's name on the Hastings war memorial.