William Charles Hewson

William Charles Hewson
William Charles Hewson

Born in 1888 in St Ives, Charles (as he preferred to be called) was the eldest son of George, a self employed pork butcher working from home, and Emma (née Cranfield). In 1891 the family home was in Merryland, St Ives. Emma died in 1892, when William was 4yrs old. George married Eleanor Elizabeth Adams in 1897. By 1901 they had moved to Crown Street, St Ives, the family expanded by older step-sisters. Charles' mother sold ladies undergarments from their home, as advertised in the Hunts Post of 5 March 1915.

Charles spent four years as an apprentice at J R Ingram, St Ives, training as a tinsmith. Quite where he was in 1911 is uncertain, since there is no trace of him in the 1911 Census records. But in February 1913 he was aboard the SS Orama sailing for Australia. It seems he returned home soon after, to again sail for Australia in July 1913 with his younger brother, Walter, as reported in the Hunts Post of 11 July 1913. They both settled in Burracoppin, Western Australia, Charles working as a farmer, Walter a labourer.  The location is about as remote as you could get, a settlement of never more than just over 200 people 170 miles into the Outback, east of Perth.

Charles enlisted on 2 April 1917 in the 11th Battalion, Australian Infantry, and trained at Blackboy Hill Camp. He left Australia in June 1917 aboard the HMAT Borda (A30), arriving in Plymouth at the end of August 1917. There was a further four months of training, during which time he met Ethel Maud Burrell. They were married in St George's, Hanover Square, London but had little time together, Charles arriving in France at the end of December 1917.

At the beginning of 1918 the Battalion were in relief at Gable Farm. Charles had his first experience of the front line when they moved up on 9 January. It snowed throughout that day. The following day there was a thaw and conditions were awful. It was abnormally quiet until Sunday 13 January. Charles was stationed at Number 5 Post. German artillery managed to get a fix on the location in the early morning. A direct hit killed four of the occupants, injuring the other five. Charles was one of those killed, aged 29yrs. He'd survived less than a week at the Front. He has no known grave and is commemorated at the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium.

His brother Walter also joined up. He fought in Gallipoli and France, was twice wounded in action, and returned to Australia at the end of the war.

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Source materials
Click any of the links below to view original source materials.
1891 Census
1901 Census
1913 UK Outward Passenger List
1917 Attestation Form
Commonwealth War Graves Register
Commemorative Certificate

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