Name of Researcher / Enw’r ymchwylydd: Mavis Williams
Name of Memorial / Enw’r gofeb: Hawarden
Name / Enw: Whitley Charles Claude
Regiment/Catrawd: 7th King’s Royal Rifle Corps
Service Rank and Number / Rheng gwasanaeth a rhif: Captain
Military Cemetery/Memorial / Fynwent milwrol: Hibers Trench Cemetery, Wancourt
Ref No Grave or Memorial / Rhif cyfeirnod bedd: C. 15
Country of Cemetery or Memorial / Gwlad y fynwent neu gofeb: France
Medals Awarded / Medalau a ddyfarnwyd: Victory & British Medals
Date and Circumstances of Death / Dyddiad ac amgylchiadau marwolaeth:
Killed in action 11th April 1917, age 28
Charles Whitley’s parents were married in 1878 in the March Qtr., in West Derby, Liverpool. (Vol 8b, Page 639). They are recorded on the 1881 census living at 185, Piccadilly, London (St. James). They were Boarders in the Lodging House of William & Ann Colbourn and their son William. Edward Whitley, 55 was a Solicitor, Member of Parliament, Magistrate & Town Councillor of Liverpool. He had been born in Liverpool , Lancashire. His wife Elizabeth Eleanor Whitley was 33 and had also been born in Liverpool. Their son Edward Junior was 1 year old.
Charles Whitley was born on the 9th October 1888 in Halewood, Lancashire and baptized on the 11th February 1989 at Halewood and Tarbuck. (Page 88 No 698) ‘Charles son of Edward & Elizabeth Eleanor Whitley, Halewood, Gentleman. The Officiating Minister was Thomas Whitley’ ( any connection?). The name Charles Claude Whitley appears on a family tree on www.ancestry.co.uk. but he is not Claude on any other documents. The name Claude was not on the Parish Register, just Charles.
Charles’s father Edward Whitley had died, on the 14th January 1892. He had been a larger than life character by all accounts. He’d been leader of the Tory Party on Liverpool Council before becoming a Member of Parliament and Council Attorney. His name was a household word in Liverpool and they even named a street after him. His London address was 185 Piccadilly.
Edward Whitley died at his residence The Grange, Halewood, near Liverpool.
Read the entry in Debrett’s for Edward Whitley:
Also:- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Whitley_%28politician%29#cite_note-times-1892-02-15-2 for an account of his life and also it seems that a road in Liverpool was named after him too: –
Whitley Street 3 was named in compliment to Edward Whitley, MP. He was the Leader of the Tory Party on the Council before his election to Parliament and his name was a household word in Liverpool.
Charles Whitley’s siblings were Edward (Jnr.) born 1879, William, born 1883 and Herbert, born 1886. However, I cannot find the family on the 1891 census, so the earliest we see Charles named on a census is in 1901.
The 1901 census records Charles living with his mother Elizabeth Eleanor Whitley at 2, Elmshurst, Stoney Hill, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. Elizabeth Eleanor, 53, was a Widow living on own means. Her son Charles was the only child with her. He was 12 years old and had been born in Halewood, Lancashire. A married niece, Kate S. Jones was there. There were 5 servants in the household, 1 cook, 2 housemaids, 1 maid, and 1 waitress.
Charles was at Balliol College, Oxford between the years 1906 and 1909. His picture and biography are in the Balliol College War Memorial Book, Volume 2.
On the 1911 census, Charles Whittley aged 22 was living as the Joint Owner and Occupier of “Weatherstones”, Windle Hill, Neston, Cheshire. The other Joint Owner and Occupier was Edmund Page, 22, single and living on Private Means. There were 2 visitors, Lyndon Henry Morris, and Frederick William Sprott. These two young men were Solicitors’ Articled Clerks. Again there were servants, 1 Cook, 1 Housemaid, 1 Kitchenmaid and also a House-Boy.
Charles Whitley’s Army career is summarised in this obituary that appeared in the Regimental Chronicle in 1917
CAPTAIN CHARLES WHITLEY, M.C.
The youngest son of the late Edward Whitley, M.P., of Liverpool, and of Mrs. Whitley, of Primley Hill, Paignton. He joined the 14th Battalion as a private in 1914, and was given a temporary commission in the 7th Battalion in the following year. Whitley saw much service whilst serving in this Battalion, being promoted Captain in 1916, and was awarded the Military Cross, October 1916, ” for conspicuous gallantry in action. Though shot through the arm, he remained in command of his Company, advanced with it, captured and consolidated the enemy’s trench, and remained on duty for twelve hours after being wounded until relieved.” He fell in action on April 11th, 1917, whilst leading his Company to the attack of the German position at Wancourt. He was 27 years of age when he met his death.
This account of his death was given to me by Andy on The Great War Forum.
‘B & C Companies were to advance up the the valley & to try and push on to Wancourt. The 56th Division never left their trenches or made any attempt to take Hill 90.
B Company under Whitley made a most gallant attempt to push forward but from the start it was an impossible task & the Staff who had ordered the attack, if they had ever come near enough to have looked at the ground would have realised it too & would never have ordered the attack.
Whitley was alas killed, gallant soldier that he was & his body was found nearest to the German wire which was totally uncut.’
The following item appeared in The Times, Saturday, Apr 21, 1917
Killed In Action
Whitley.- Killed in action, on the 11th April,
Captain Charles Whitley, King’s Royal Rifles,
of Warren Hall, near Chester, youngest son of the late
Edward Whitley, M.P., of Liverpool, and of Mrs.
Whitley, Primley Hill, Paignton, aged 27.
There is an index card for Charles Whitley in The Flintshire Roll of Honour at The County Record Office in Hawarden. (Card.Hawarden F36) It gives the address Warren Hall, Broughton. The card confirms his regimental details as at the top of this page. It says he served from September 1914 until April 1917. He was awarded the Military Cross and was in the Killed Battle of Arras 11th April 1917. The card had been completed and signed by Edmund Page. (see 1911 census, where Edmund Page and Charles Whitley were joint owners of Weatherstones, Windle Hill, Neston County:Cheshire.)
After Charles died his Probate shows that he was a very wealthy man. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), – Whitley, Charles of Warren Hall, Broughton, Flintshire. Captain 7th Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps. Died 11th April 1917 in France. Probate London, 19 October to William Whitley & John Trengone Lance, gentlemen. Effects £208,743 0s.9d.
Charles is also remembered on the Broughton War Memorial and also commemorated on the memorial at Bretton Methodist Chapel.
Ref. The Captain’s file at Kew is in WO339/674.
Charles was at Balliol College, Oxford between the years 1906 and 1909.
His picture (see top of this page) and biography are in the Balliol College War Memorial Book, Volume 2.
Obituary/Biography from Balliol College Oxford
Cutting from the Hawarden Parish Magazine 1917
Many grateful thanks to Michael Whitley, the Great nephew of Charles, for sharing the photographs and much of the story with us.
Two cuttings from the Hawarden Parish Magazine 1917.