CHARLES GRAHAM CARSON (MC)

Rank: Captain
Regiment: "C" Coy. 13th Bn. Essex Regiment Died of wounds Sunday 19th November 1916 Age 22County Memorial Congleton
Commemorated\Buried ST. SEVER CEMETERY, ROUEN
Grave\Panel Ref: Officers R.2.5.
France

Son of Mr William Lindsay Carson, J.P. and Mrs. Harriet Carson of 27, Wagg Street, Congleton, Cheshire, Antrim House, Congleton, Cheshire and 29, Moody Terrace, Congleton, Cheshire. He had two sisters, Mary Elaine and Florence May Carson, along with one brother Lindsay Hubert Carson. In 1911, he was boarding at Denstone College, Denstone, Staffordshire, afterwards entering Manchester University as a medical student. His brother, Lindsay Hubert Carson, died of wounds, received in action on the 31st October 1918.

Captain Graham Carson was only 22 years of age when on the outbreak of war, he enlisted in the 5th Battalion, the North Staffordshire Regiment as a Private. Early in 1915 he obtained his commission in the 13th Battalion, the Essex Regiment, where he speedily gained promotion. In November of the same year he went out to France. When the Somme Offensive began Graham was a Captain and at the end of July was wounded in Delville Wood, and for his distinguished handling of his Company there, he was awarded the Military Cross. He returned to France in September.

Captain Charles Graham Carson of the 13th Battalion, The Essex Regiment who were attached to the 6th Brigade, 2nd Division, took part in the Battle of Ancre.

 Extract from the war diary of the Essex Regiment.

The objective of the attack was the Quadrilateral and four lines of enemy trenches to the south. At 02:30 hours on the 13th of November each man received a cup of hot cocoa, by 03:00 hours the waves moved into position in open country. At 04:15 hours all waves and the cleaning up parties were in position. Orders had been given that they should be in position by 04:00 hours, but on account of the waves not being in touch with the Battalions on the left, everyone had to be moved. The men lay quiet until the barrage commenced at 05:45 hours, then the whole of the waves moved forward, followed by the 1st Battalion, The Kings. Immediately after the barrage had lifted, they assaulted the First Line, after which all touch with them was lost. At 08:00 hours, a party of men was sent to gather what information they could. They reported that the right flank could not be seen, but on the left the men were about up to the German front line wire, and that a party of about 50 men were lined up behind a small bank 100 yards in front of the British wire and were under very heavy machine gun, rifle fire, and it was impossible for them to advance. Orders were given to consolidate the position they held and await further instructions. A second Officers patrol was sent out and came back with the same information as the first. Previously orders had been given that if it was possible, the machine guns in the Quadrilateral should be rushed, but on the Officer's report on the conditions of the ground, it was decided that it was an impossibility. At 08:45 hours nothing had been heard from the front. At 15:00 hours, Second Lieutenant Patterson, who had gone to find new accommodation for the Battalion H.Q, returned from the Green Line (the Objective) and reported that he and 50 men had gone through to the Green Line with the Oxford and Bucks and the 22nd Battalion, the Royal Fusiliers and found no British troops on the left and on making a reconnaissance, they found a party of Germans, and they immediately made a blockade and strong-point with 3 Lewis Guns. At 16:30 hours information was received that the Royal Fusiliers were coming up to form a defensive flank facing North, south of the Quadrilateral and needed every assistance. It was decided to run out a trench from Buster to the small sap in the German front line, 200 yards south of the Quadrilateral, this was reconnoitred. During the reconnaissance, it was found that Cat Tunnel could be used with great advantage, permission from Brigade was granted. A Royal Engineers Officer later informed them that the tunnel could not be used without the express instructions from the 2nd Division. About 18:00 hours the construction of the trench was handed over to the Officer Commanding, the 22nd Battalion, the Royal Fusiliers who decided to change the plans and cut it from Egg Street to the Quadrilateral. This was started by the Royal Engineers and the 10th Battalion, The Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry, and a certain amount of progress was made, but due to the state of the ground the trench was turned half-right to join up with the two craters about south of the Quadrilateral. This was done and the trench completed. At 09:00 hours on the 14th of November the Officer Commanding, the 1st Battalion, The Kings took over command of the right sub-sector. Captain Charles Graham Carson received very serious wounds in the action of the 13th of November and died six days later in hospital.

 

The Times on the 27th of November 1916 said, He handled his company under intense fire and most trying conditions with great courage and determination. Later although wounded he remained at his post, setting a splendid example to his men. For his outstanding work, here he was awarded the Military Cross. His Colonel writes of him. Your son was a most excellent Officer, thorough and reliable in all his work and one upon whom I could depend on in difficult circumstances. He was universally liked by all ranks and I myself had a very high opinion and regard for him. He will be greatly missed by all.

Extract from The Congleton Chronicle 1916.

Charles Carson specifically requested the West Ham Battalion as his unit. The Mayor of West Ham signed off his application personally and he joined the Battalion as a Second Lieutenant on their first parade at St Luke's Church. He was a very capable soldier and held the respect of his men and fellow Officers, eventually becoming Captain and the Commander of C Company. In France, the Battalion were sent to the Somme battlefield in July 1916. It was here they endured a very kinetic few days defending the recently captured Delville Wood. After three weeks of fighting the Germans had been beaten out of this devil's wood, now wanted it back. Their counter- attack was of nightmarish intensity and at times almost suicidal. Charles Carson was leading his men of "C" Company as they held the Front Line, although in reality it was merely a series of shell holes. They endured wave after wave of German infantry attacks, heavy shelling of their positions and a multitude of snipers sneaking about wearing British helmets. At one point, the HQ dugout was crumped with all the senior Officers wounded. But still they held on. Carson ended this tour of Delville Wood being evacuated out on a stretcher. He had been wounded in the wrist at one point, but stayed at his post and kept "C" Company together. Finally, he took a machine gun bullet to the knee which required evacuation to hospital for recovery. During this intense period, their resistance was unbelievable and a number of the originals in the Battalion were awarded the Military Medal for their bravery. Charles Carson was awarded the Military Cross for his gallantry in the field. No doubt he then enjoyed a peaceful period of clean hospital sheets, hot food, pretty nurses and then an extended leave back home in Congleton, Cheshire, which would have included a visit to Buckingham Palace to receive his medal from the King. Carson returned to the Battalion in France at the end of October 1916 and for the next few weeks prepared his men to attack the German position known as the Quadrilateral (Die Heidenkopf). This was a well-defended position, and the attack didn't go at all well for the Battalion on the 13th of November. Carson was in command of C Company, leading the 2nd wave through the mud on the right flank. He and his men bravely managed to take their primary objectives but he was severely wounded in the chest as they advanced and attacked another position. He was taken, just about breathing back to the First Aid Post. Doctor Holthusen, the Medical Officer, must have glimpsed that slim hope of life remaining and evacuated him to hospital. Charles Graham Carson was a strong man and fought on for a number of days but his wounds were simply too much for his body. Back home in Congleton, his family got the dreaded hat trick of telegrams within the space of a few days, he was at first Missing in Action, then he was Found Alive, but Wounded and then finally he had Died of Wounds.


Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank John and Christopher Pullen for this information on Charles.