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War Memorials

In Memory of
Private 19569
1st Battalion Wiltshire Regiment
Who died of wounds on Tuesday, 25th August 1916
Age 36

III E 41 Puchevillers British Cemetery, Somme, France

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
Puchevillers British Cemetery

Puchevillers British Cemetery, Somme, France1

Charles Prowett was born in Beeston, Notts in 18802, the youngest of twelve children - 8 boys and 4 girls3 - of Joseph (b. c1836, Leicester) and Martha Prowett (b. c1838, Beeston, née Beardall). Joseph worked as a warper in the Leivers branch of the lace trade all his working life. By 1901 he and his wife were living at 6 Middleton Street, Beeston with only one of the children Eliza, still living at home4. By then, Charles had found work as a navvy in the Birmingham area, lodging in Aston5. By 1911, Joseph, Maria and Eliza had moved to 55 Gladstone Street, Beeston6 and Charles was working as a cowman at Yew Tree Farm at Walton, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire7. Joseph died towards the end of 1912, aged 768.

As Charles' Army Service Record has not survived, we do not have a precise record of when he enlisted with the Wiltshire Regiment, but from what evidence we have, it was probably in June 1915 at Devizes, Wiltshire9. He become part of 1st Battalion which had been based at Tidworth Camp in Wiltshire, with 7th Brigade, 3rd Division when the war started in August 1914. They had left for France as part of the British Expeditionary Force, almost immediately and took part in many of the early battles of the war. Private Prowett would have been part of reinforcements to the regiment when he arrived in France on 30 September 1915 after about three months basic training. The regiment was then taking part in the Battle of Loos and had sustained heavy casualties. Immediately after this battle, the whole of 7th Brigade was transferred to 25th Brigade and, in that role, took part in the defence of the German attack on Vimy Ridge in May 1916, before moving to The Somme10. On the first day, July 1st 1916, the regiment was being held in reserve but moved to trenches at Authuille on the next day. On the 3rd July, the regiment entered the Leipzig Salient and fought alongside the 3rd Battalion The Worcestershire Regiment for the next four days, another costly episode with little or no gains. This was followed by the Battle of Bazentin Ridge and developed into the Battle of Pozieres in which this strategically situated village, on the Albert-Bapaume road, close by the highest point on the battlefield, was captured. Most of the troops involved were Australian although some British Divisions - which included the 1st Wiltshire battalion took part. This battle extended into August with several costly attempts by the enemy to retake the village11. The battalion then took part in further operations in the Leipzig Salient and it was probably during these actions that Private Prowett was wounded and given medical care in the field or in a casualty clearing station. Despite all efforts, he died from his wounds on August 25th 1916 and was buried in Puchevillers British Cemetery on the Somme.

Puchevillers British Cemetery lies a little west of the village of Puchevillers, a village on the D11 about 19 kilometres north-east of Amiens. It was used by the 3rd and 44th Casualty Clearing Stations which were positioned at Puchevillers from June 1916. The cemetery contains 1,763 First World War burials.

Private Prowett was posthumously awarded the British War Medal, Victory Medal and 1915 Star. Under the terms of his 'Soldiers Will', his mother and sister Eliza, as joint legatees were paid his financial effects of 2 2s 3d on 21 December 1916 and his War Gratuity of 5 10s on 15 September 191912. His mother died in 1928, aged 10013.

1The photograph of the Puchevillers British Cemetery is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Basford Registration District (of which Beeston was part) in Q3/1880 (Ref 7b 159)
3Charles' siblings were Joseph (b. 1860), George William (b. 1863), Eliza Ann (b. 1865), James (b. 1866), Frederick (b. 1868), John (b. 1869), Henrietta (1871-1951) Everitt (b. c1871, Joseph Owen (b. 1874, Mary Ellen (b. 1875 and Frances Arthur (b. 1877).
4Beeston, 1901 Census, Piece 3153 Folio 36
5Aston, Birmingham, 1901 Census, Piece 2864 Folio 5. Boarding with Mason family at 9 Talfourd Street.
6Beeston, Nottingham, 1911 Census, Piece 20428 RD430 SD25 ED25 Schedule 276
7Walton, Chesterfield, Derbys, 1911 Census, Piece 21116 RD429 SD3 ED3 Schedule 2. Working for and living in the household of Joseph Allen
8His death was registered in Nottingham Registration District in Q4/1912 (Ref 7b 423) 9This date is estimated from amount of the War Gratuity that was awarded and paid to his widow after the war. His place of enlistment is from his entry in "Soldiers Died in the Great War".
10Details of the battalion's mobilisation, arrival in France and early action are from The War Memories Project website - www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/battalion.php?pid=5022. The date of Charles' arrival in France is given on his Medal Card.
11Details the battalion's actions are from the War Memories Project website with some detail from the battalion war diary.
12Details from Charles' Medal Register entries and the "Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929" - available on ancestry.com.
Although his rank is recorded as 'Corporal' on the memorial in Beeston Parish Church, this is not supported by other records, including the Commonweath War Graves Commission records.
13Her death was registered in Nottingham Registration District in Q4/1938 (Ref 7b 346)

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