Rifleman Charles J Hammond

Regiment:  Rifle Brigade
Service No:  9746
Date and place of birth: 1879, Arundel, Sussex 
Date and place of death:  26 August 1914 

Family background

The first record found for Charles J Hammond is the 1881 census where Charles Hammond (aged 3), William H Hammond (8) and Lydia C Hammond (6) are listed among the “inmates” of the Preston Street Workhouse in East Preston. All are shown as born in Poling, Sussex. A William Hammond, a jobbing labourer in his 40s, born in Ferring is also listed, but separately. He may be their father.

In 1891 Emily Hammond (34) and her daughter Lydia (15) were living with her parents Henry and Esther Bridger in Poling, Sussex. Lydia is shown as being born in Lowestoft, Suffolk. Emily still lived with the Bridger family in Poling in 1901.

In 1903 on his enlistment papers Charles recorded his place of residence as Arundel.

His mother Mrs E Hammond was alive in 1914, living in Poling, near Arundel, as mentioned in his army record. His father is not listed.

He married Mabel Annie Edmonds on 5 June 1909 in Bepton Church, Sussex. Their daughter Irene Emily was born in 1910 in Midhurst.

By 1911 Charles Hammond (32) and his wife Mabel (25) were living at The Mint, Station Road, Midhurst with their daughter Irene (11 months). Charles worked as a stone quarry man. 

Military service

Charles Hammond signed on a short service contract to the Rifle Brigade in March 1903 at Burton Park, Petworth aged 24 years 5 months. This meant he was contracted to serve in the army for three years and then be a reserve for nine years.

He was called up in August 1914 and served with the British Expeditionary Force in France.

Pre-war the Rifle Regiment comprised two Regular, two Militia and two Territorial Battalions. During World War 1 the Regiment comprised a total of twenty eight Battalions and lost 11,575 men. It was awarded fifty two Battle Honours including ten VCs.

The Declaration of War saw the Regiment stationed at Colchester as part of the 11th Brigade of the 4th Division. On 18 August, they were moved to Harrow School and mobilised for war on 23 August. The Regiment landed in Le Havre and headed straight for the Front.

In retreat and under heavy attack from the Germans, Rifleman Hammond was killed on the first day of his first battle in this war: The Battle of Le Cateau (26 August – 1 September). He was one of 40,000 British troop casualties on that day, 7,812 were injured and 2,600  taken prisoner.

Le Ferte-sous-Joarre commemorates 3,740 officers and men who fell between the end of August and early October 1914. The men have no known graves and the Memorial relates to the Battles of Mons, Le Cateau, the Marne and the Aisne.

It was the 1st Battalion – The Rifle Brigade, who were to take part in the (now famous) Christmas Truce of 1914. 

Death and commemoration

He was reported missing in July 1915, and his wife was awarded a pension of 15 shillings a week, for herself and one child.

Charles Hammond was awarded the Victory medal, the 1914 star, and the 1914 clasp, which were sent to his wife, Mabel, in 1921.

He is commemorated on the La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Memorial, Midhurst War Memorial, and is listed on the Panels in Midhurst Parish Church. 

Subsequent family history

By 1919 his widow Mabel, and presumably daughter Irene, were living in Brighton.

His army records indicate that both parents were dead, and that in 1919 he had two siblings, a brother William Hammond (45) living in Nassau Street, Winnipeg, Canada, and a sister Mrs Esther Edmunds (43) (sic – Edmonds in 1911 census)  living at Rose Cottage, Angmering, West Worthing.

 

Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project