Charles Thompson by Guest Blogger Jane Ainsworth

Charles Thompson by Guest Blogger Jane Ainsworth

Image J Ainsworth

I decided to research Charles Thompson to tell his story because Barnsley Council has failed to honour him as he deserves on the Somme Centenary Memorial (Light Lines). They created an expensive sculpture supposedly to commemorate about 300 Barnsley men who died on 1 July 1916 – one specific day in a four-year war in which thousands of Barnsley men were killed while serving their country. Regrettably, they did so as a temporary artwork rather than a war memorial and failed to pay due care and attention to accuracy.

Image J Ainsworth

I pointed out to them in July 2016 not only that they had failed to use three photographs of my Old Boys, that I had informed them about when they asked local people for help initially and which were easily available in Barnsley Archives, but, even more carelessly, they had used the wrong photograph for C Thompson. (The one they used is one of my Old Boys Cecil Cuthbert Thompson who died on 14 July 1916, so he stood out for me).

Image J Ainsworth

I hoped that when they erected the Memorial in Churchfields Peace Gardens towards the end of 2017 any errors would be corrected but they have not been.

I recently came across a list of names on the panels on a Council website – inexplicably and most unhelpfully the men are not in alphabetical order of surname making individuals very difficult to find on the 30 panels. I was shocked to find that they had recorded the error on this list but chosen to ignore it – along with another eight or

so mistakes and five omissions!.

Charles Thompson served as a Private in the Second Barnsley Pals and was killed in action on 1 July 1916 along with many of his comrades. He deserves to be properly acknowledged as most of them have been.

I discovered that Charles had two surviving children, who lived in the Wakefield area, and it would be wonderful if any of his grandchildren could contact me to share any photographs they might have of him and other information that I have been unable to find so that we can make sure he is not forgotten.

CHARLES THOMPSON was born in 1888 in Bermondsey and his birth was registered in St Olave (Southwark) district. He was the son of Charles Thompson and Margaret Miriam nee Shutt.

His parents got married on Christmas Day 1891 at St Mary Magdalene’s Church in Bermondsey, where Charles (21) was a Leather Dresser and Margaret (19) was the daughter of Robert Shutt, a Tinman. Their Witnesses were Margaret’s father and Charles’ only sister Ellen Agnes.

Charles’ grandparents were Francis James Thompson and Agnes Bennett, who had married on 14 March 1870 at St Paul’s Church (Cathedral), Westminster Bridge, Southwark. Francis (18) Cellarman, was the son of James Thompson, Bricklayer; Agnes (18) was the daughter of Charles Bennett, Furniture Dealer. They relocated to Bermondsey, where Francis became a Fellowship Porter and they had two children: Charles, Leather Worker, and Ellen Agnes, Tin Plate Worker. Francis died sometime before 1891, leaving Agnes a widow by the age of 38 years. Agnes may have received some support from the Livery Company for her husband’s occupation but she was working as an Office Cleaner by 1901. On the 1911 Census, Agnes (60) ‘Domestic Charing and Washing,’ was a boarder at 86 Abbey Street in Bermondsey with her grandson Charles (18) General Labourer.

Meanwhile, Charles’ parents occupied four rooms at 57 Fendall Street in Bermondsey with the other four of their five children: Agnes (16), Margaret (15), Maud (13) and Ellen (8) as well as their Aunt Ada Shutt (17).

Charles relocated to Yorkshire and took up employment in a Colliery. He was a Coal Miner living in Darton when he got married on 3 February 1912 at St Peter’s Church in Woolley to Mary Jane Hough (19) from Woolley, whose father Charles Hough was a Miner. Although their Marriage Certificate stated that his father was deceased, I found his parents on the 1939 Register still residing at 57 Fendall Street with a lodger. Charles Thompson senior, born on 20 October 1870, was an ‘Electric Fitters Mate Retired,’ while his wife Margaret, born on 24 February 1872, was a Housewife.

I do not know when both parents died as I have found no match in Bermondsey or Southwark for either of them. Charles’ grandmother Agnes Thompson died early 1939, aged 87. His sisters Agnes, Margaret, Maud and Ellen probably all got married and may have moved elsewhere but their surname is too common to be certain about details without purchasing Marriage Certificates.

Charles’ wife Mary Jane nee Hough was born late 1893 in the Wakefield area. In 1911, she was a Cotton Spinner at Bank Mill, residing with her married sister Hannah (26), her husband Thomas Sunderland (23) Coal Miner Filler, and their son Wilfred (2) in two rooms at Clayton West near Huddersfield. (Details of the Hough family are provided at the end).

Charles and Mary Thompson had three children: Alfred, who died in infancy early 1913, Gladys in 1914 and North in spring 1916.

Charles’ first Attestation Form is in his Pension Records, although he does not appear to have been paid any pension. He enlisted at Wakefield on 5 September 1914 and was placed in the Army Reserve until he ‘Rejoined the Colours’ on 14 September, being posted as a Private (Service Number: 17290) in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry on the 16th. However, about a month later he was ‘Discharged as not being likely to become an efficient soldier‘ after spending several days in the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital in Aylesbury for ‘Bursitis Prepatellar,’ otherwise known as Coal Miner’s knee or septic arthritis of the knee.

The Medical Form provided some personal information about Charles. He was 22 years 172 days old, born in London, a Coal Miner of 2a Huddersfield Road, Barnsley; height 5’ 3”, weight 117lbs, chest 35”, Fresh complexion, Brown eyes, Brown hair, Religion Church of England. He was initially assessed as fit for the Army with good Physical Development and Vision 6/6 in both eyes. Details were provided about his marriage and birth of his daughter Gladys.

Charles enlisted again in Barnsley when recruitment was underway for the Barnsley Pals and he was attested as a Private (14/328) in ‘B’ Company of the 14th (Second Barnsley) Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment. His brother-in-law North Hough was also allocated to ‘B’ Company. Details about their training, service in Egypt then relocation to the Western Front can be found in Jon Cooksey’s Barnsley Pals and in the Battalion War Diary. Charles was killed in action on 1 July 1916, aged about 27. As his body was not recovered for burial or identification was subsequently lost, his name is on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

Barnsley Chronicle – 22 July 1916


Mr Charles Hough, Painthorpe Terrace, Crigglestone, has been notified of the death of his son-in-law, Private Charles Thompson, Y and L Regt. Mr Hough has also received information relating to his son, North Hough, who has been wounded whilst serving with the same regiment and in the same engagement.

Mary Jane Thompson was widowed at the age of 22 years and left with two young children to raise. I have not found any more records for her; she may have moved to a different area or got married again.

Gladys Thompson was born on 10 April 1914 in Darton and was baptised on 14 May 1914 at All Saints Church there. She may have got married and had children but I have been unable to verify this.

North Thompson, named after his uncle, was born spring 1916 in Wakefield area as his mother would have probably returned to stay with her parents while Charles was serving overseas. I have not been able to find him on the 1939 Register but he got married early 1940 in Lower Asbrigg to Dorothy Telford. They appear to have had three children in Lower Asbrigg: Joan in 1940, Keith in 1941 and Trevor in 1942.

I would really like to hear from any of these family members or their descendants to find out more about Charles Thompson, to see a photograph of him if possible and to locate the whereabouts of his medals and Memorial Plaque.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them.
(Laurence Binyon: For the Fallen, 1914)


CHARLES HOUGH was born summer 1856 in Hall Green to Thomas, Coal Miner, and Hannah Hough; he was baptised on 10 July 1856 at St James’ Chapel in Chapelthorpe. Charles was one of 11 children: Joseph, Mary, John, Samson, Abraham, Charles, Ruben, Elizabeth, Amos, Henry and Sarah A. He and his brothers followed the same occupation as their father.

Charles (21) got married on 30 July 1877 at St James’ Chapel to Mary North (19) of Hall Green, whose father William North was a Blacksmith. Mary’s sister Alice Ann was one of the Witnesses.

Charles and Mary lived in Hall Green then Woolley Moor in Crigglestone, before relocating to Brick Row, Berry Moor, Thurgoland, by 1901. They had 14 children but four died by 1911. The surviving ten children were all helpfully listed on the 1911 Census even though several of them were not actually living at home in the four rooms at New Houses, Haigh. North (33) had been married 9 years, Elizabeth (28) married 6 years, Hannah (26) married 3 years, Fred (24) ‘Cripple can’t work,’ Richard (21) married 1 year, Mary Jane (17), Alice Ann (12), William Henry (10) School, Joe (8) School, and Arthur (6) School.

Mary Hough died summer 1916, aged 57, and Charles Hough died late 1924, aged 68, in the Wakefield district.

NORTH HOUGH was born early 1878 in Crigglestone and his baptism was on 6 January 1878 at St James’ Church in Chapelthorpe. His unusual first name was the surname of his mother Mary. He worked in a Colliery like his father Charles, as a Hurrier in 1891 then as a Coal Miner Hewer by 1901.

North got married on 13 January 1902 at Holy Trinity Church in Thurgoland to Annie Elizabeth Sidebottom (21) Servant at Hill Top, whose father Alfred Sidebottom was a Miner.

On the 1911 Census, North (33) and Annie (29) occupied three rooms at Claphouse Fold in Haigh with their three surviving children out of four. They subsequently had three more making a total of seven: Charlie, Arthur, Miriam, Stanley, Ida (before the outbreak of war in 1914), Mary (in 1919 after the war had ended), and one whose name is unknown.

According to the WW1 Medal Card and Award Rolls with additional information from Jon Cooksey’s Barnsley Pals, North Hough enlisted as a Private (Service Number: 14/417) in ‘B’ Company of the 14th (Second Barnsley) Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment. The article in Barnsley Chronicle on 22 July 1916 confirmed that he served on the Somme, where he was wounded. He was subsequently transferred to the Labour Corps (Service Number: 119535) but, unfortunately, his Service Records have not survived for more details about his wounding and continued war service. He was awarded two medals, Victory and British War.

I have been unable to find out when he died and I would be very interested to hear from any of his descendants to discover more about him.

Guest Blog by Jane Ainsworth, author of Great Sacrifice: the Old Boys of Barnsley Holgate Grammar School in the First World War (March 2016) and Keeping Their Beacons Alight: the Potter Family of Barnsley and their Service to our Country (November 2017) – both published by Helion & Company.