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ROBBINS, Charles Henry (1884-1914) – Worcestershire Regiment

Colour Sergeant (acting Quartermaster-Sergeant) Charles Henry Robbins was born at Badsey and attended Badsey School from c1890-c1898.  Colour Sergeant Robbins’ name is recorded on the war memorial in St Leonard’s Church, Bretforton, at Badsey School, and on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium, but his name does not appear on the memorial in Badsey Church.

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Charles Henry Robbins was born at Badsey on 30th August 1884, the eldest of four children of George and Martha Robbins; his father was also Badsey-born and his mother was from Bretforton.  He had three younger sisters, Charlotte Matilda (1887-1975), Rose Ellen (1888-1983) and Alice Maud (1890).  Charles attended Badsey School until the end of April 1892 when he moved with his mother and sisters to Bretforton.  Possibly Martha had fallen ill and had returned to her family in Bretforton with the children; Martha died at Bretforton in 1896.

Following the death of their mother and their father moving to Birmingham, the three girls were divided up among the family in Bretforton:  Charlotte with her aunt, Sarah Hall, Rosa with her aunt, Eliza Stanley, and Alice with her maternal grandmother, Sarah Clarke.  Charles, meanwhile, returned to Badsey and re-enrolled at Badsey School in June 1896 to complete his education.

By the time of the 1901 census, Charles was in Towcester, Northamptonshire, where he worked as a servant in a hotel, cleaning boots.  He later joined the army, becoming a Private in the Worcestershire Regiment.  He was based at Aldershot when, in October 1907, he married Daisy Avis in the Church of St Michael the Archangel.  By 1909, the Worcestershire Regiment was based at Dover Castle, as this was where his son, Charles Henry, was born.  The family was still at Dover in 1911 when the census was taken.

On the outbreak of war, Charles was part of the British Expeditionary Force, arriving overseas on 12th August 1914.  He was acting company Quartermaster Sergeant, which meant that he was a non-commissioned officer in charge of supplies; he also served as deputy to the Company Sergeant Major and was the second most senior NCO in the company.

Charles was killed in action on 7th November 1914.  The War Diary for that day, when at Bois de Ploegsteert, states:  "Between 3 am and 4 am very heavy bombardment of front trenches – very thick fog during which at about 5 am enemy broke through right trenches of “C” Company. Efforts made throughout day with assistance of Inniskilling Fusiliers, East Lancashire Regiment and one company Seaforth Highlanders to reoccupy them but unsuccessfully."  Four officers were killed and two wounded; of the rank and file, 42 were killed, 121 wounded and 39 missing.

The December Parish Magazine reported his death:

Col-Sergt C H Robbins (acting Quartermaster-Sergt), killed in action November 7; son of Mr Robbins, of Wickhamford, and brother of Mrs Caswell, of Badsey; a native of Badsey and sometime a pupil at Badsey School.

Charles’ father, who had returned from Birmingham in about 1905, had moved firstly to Badsey with his second family, then to Bengeworth, then to Wickhamford, where he was living at the time of Charles’ death.  On the Commonwealth War Graves website, Charles’ father is given as George Robbins of Bretforton.

Charles’ body was never identified, so his name is recorded, along with more than 54,000 other officers and men, on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium.

By the end of the war, Charles’ widow, Daisy, was living at 33 Clarence Road, Sidcup, Kent.  It is thought that Daisy may have married again in 1924 to Thomas Walton.  Charles’ son, Charles, died in the Gravesend district in 1984.

Charles’s sisters remained living in the area.  The sister referred to in the Parish Magazine article was Charlotte Caswell who had married Frank Caswell, a blacksmith who had set up a business in Chapel Street, Badsey, in 1909.  Charles’ father is thought to have died in Birmingham in the 1930s.