Charles was born in Hadnall, Shropshire in 1895 and was baptised on 2nd June that year. His father John Henry Saunders was born in Ysceifiog, Flintshire and the Saunders family were recorded as agricultural workers in the 1861 census. However, Charles’ father later became a gamekeeper and it seems the family’s outlook improved when John married Charles’ mother Mary Alice Sutton from Neston in April, 1879. Altogether they had eleven children ten of whom survived to adulthood. Mary died in 1930 aged 72 and John died in 1922 aged 65.
However, the family had moved around no doubt to pursue John’s work and to provide for the growing family. In 1901 Charles lived in Hadnall but the census shows that the family had also lived in Cilcain. By the 1911 census the family had moved back to Wales and lived in Groesffordd, Ysceifiog and by this time Charles’ father is described as a farmer and an employer with Charles working on the farm as a labourer.
As Sergeant Saunders was killed in action with his unit on 26th September, 1917, it is reasonable to assume that the following account describes how his unit (10th Battalion RWF) was engaged and how he is likely to have been killed. He has no known grave but his death is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium.
Battles Of Ypres – Battle Of Polygon Wood – 26/09/1917 – Order of Battle: Location: Zonnebeke. Allied victory.
On 25th September a German counter-attack around Polygon Wood had recaptured some of the ground lost during the Battle of the Menin Road.
The following day the Allied advance to remove them comprising X Corps, V Corps and 1 Anzac Corps resumed on a front extending from the Menin Road to St Julien and centred on Polygon Wood. V Corps attacked from the north of the area with their objectives being Zonnebeke and then Hill 40.
The 3rd Division incorporating 8th Infantry Brigade attacked on the left, 8th East Yorkshire Regiment and 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers as the lead battalions with 2nd Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) and 7th King’s Shropshire Light Infantry passing through. 76th Infantry Brigade on the right, 1st Gordon Highlanders and 8th King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) as the lead battalions, with 2nd Suffolk Regiment and 10th Royal Welsh Fusiliers passing through on Zonnebeke and met little resistance until reaching Zonnebeke station. Although 8th Infantry Brigade found the severely boggy ground on their front difficult to negotiate.
The village was cleared around 07.00 and the advance resumed to reach the western slope of Hill 40, just short of its final objective. A German counter-attack at 14.00 was defeated as was another at 18.30.
In the following days an attack at Bostin Farm, south of Zonnebeke, was defeated after heavy fighting and the units astride the Ypres–Roulers railway were heavily shelled.