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Sergeant Charles John Tew

7502 2nd Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment

Son of Mr Frederick & Mrs Elizabeth Tew
Husband of Nellie (nee Wilby)

Aged 31 years

Died 5th March 1917

Commemorated at Fins New British Cemetery
Grave VII. A.21.

Born and enlisted at Rushden.
Private Charles Tew
Private C Tew

Left: His gravestone at Fins New British cemetery

From the Burnt Records

Charles first enlisted aged 18 on 9th August 1904. He was living at 2 Park Road, a shoemaker by trade, and was 5' 5" tall, weighed 121lbs, chest 33½" (2" expansion). He was re-examined after six months and a "gymnastics course", and was now 5' 5", 134lbs, 33½" (2½") chest, of fair complexion with blue eyes and dark brown hair. After three years he was transferred to the reserve on 8th August 1907. He was C of E and gave his next of kin as his mother Elizabeth and brother Frederick, but this was altered following his marriage on 30th May 1909 to Nellie (nee Wilby). Their son Charles Sydney was born at Higham Ferrers on 8th November 1911. Nellie was living at 111 Park Road when she was granted a pension of 21/3 per week on 17th September 1917, but had remarried as she signed Nellie Steel for receipt of his medals in February 1921.
The Rushden Echo Friday 2 October 1914, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Shop-Mates 'Rather be on Overtime' - Private C Tew's Opinion

Good news comes from Private Charles Tew, 7502, 2nd Northants, D Company of the Expeditionary Force now at —. The following are extracts: "Just a line hoping this will find you and Sidney well as it leaves me the same. Cannot say much now as time and paper are short. I don't get a chance or I would write oftener. You might write as often as you can. I sent you a postcard a fortnight ago but have not heard from you yet. Don't forget to remember me to all, as I cannot write to everybody. If you see any of my shop-mates about just tell them that I would rather be on overtime. Let me know how my son Sidney is getting on." Private Tew has been at the front for about seven weeks.

The Rushden Echo Friday 9 October 1914, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Man's Narrow Escape - Bullets Go Through His Water Bottle - 'The Germans are a Lot of Devils' - Farm Labourers Tied Up and Shot - 'Bang, Clang, All Day and Night'

Mrs Charles Tew, of Rushden, has received further news from her husband, Private C Tew, 7502, 1st Northants Regiment, D Company, 2nd Brigade, British Expeditionary Force. In a letter dated Sept. 25th he says: "You have sent me the handiest thing you could - that packet of writing paper - as I hadn't a bit left. I don't know whether you have seen Pope, of Rushden, yet, for I saw it in the paper out here that he was going home. He was in my Company. It was a bit thick when he got hurt. Tell him I am the only one left out of we four who left Blackdown." Writing on Sept. 27th he says: "It seems nice to get your letters. I shall always write as long as I get the chance. As long as you keep drawing your money you will know that I am about. I was pleased you got the other letter, for we were in the trenches that week, and it rained every day, so you can guess how we looked. Talk about clay pit men, and you may laugh when I tell you that I had a wash and shave on Saturday, and then didn't get either until the following Sunday week, so you can tell what I looked like, but we got relieved for a few days' rest as we had it a bit hot, I can tell you, though we are back in the same place again now, and the same battle is in progress. I don't know when things will clear up for it's bang, clang, all day and night, and only an hour before I got your letter I had taken my kit off and as soon as I put it down a bullet went straight through my water bottle, so I lost my water and bottle as well, but thank God, things were no worse, and I hope they never will be." German Devils

Writing to his mother on Sept. 25th he says: "Just a few lines, hoping this will find you and all quite well. I am as well as can be expected under these conditions. Dear mother, I knew how you would be wanting to hear from me, but I couldn't before as I could only get a bit of paper or a postcard, and I thought it my duty to send it to my home first. Let all my friends know I am alive and kicking at present, though life 'aint worth much here. I am sorry to say that poor chap whose photo you have got, taken with me, has been killed, for he was such a lively sort, though he was only one, and I can tell you we were all lucky, for no one knows only those who are in it. Tell Bill to remember me to the Compass Club. He might let me know how old 'Tip' is going on ['Tip' is Private Tew's dog]. Tell Harry I have got a seed spud for him if I can only get it home time enough, but I think it can't last long at this rate. The Germans are a lot of devils; when they get to a town they turn everything inside and out and take every thing that is of any use. We were out on outpost duty one night, and then in the morning, we were looking around, and we found two poor farm labourers bound up and shot through the head, but those sort of things are getting common. I often wonder how the little boys are going on for I bet they have some saying, as I used to tell Frankey I had got a big gun upstairs, but little did I think I should want it. God bless you all."

The Rushden Echo Friday 6 November 1914, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rumoured Death of Rushden Soldier Happily Unfounded - Private C Tew Recovering

Fortunately there is no truth in the rumour that Private Charles Tew (Rushden) had died from enteric fever. He has been in the fighting line, exposed to all sorts of weather, in trenches, etc, so that he caught enteric fever and was removed to hospital. It was unofficially reported that he had died from the effects but a telegram received yesterday from the War Office states that he is now recovering.

The Rushden Echo Friday 11 December 1914, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Soldier Convalescent Recovering from Illness

Private Charles Tew (Rushden), of the Northants Regiment, who has been in hospital at the base suffering from fever writes home: "I am getting about again and feeling all right, according to the time I have been in bed for my feet are a bit tender, as they are beginning to skin now, but I think I will soon be all right. If we go back to the front we shan't be able to stand it just yet." After expressing hearty thanks for a parcel of goods and stating that other parcels and letters had not reached him while he was in the trenches, he says: "I and a German prisoner who sleeps next to me had our photos taken with one of those little hand cameras. The German has been ill, same as myself. You would laugh to see me trying to make him understand."

The Rushden Echo Friday 19 February 1915, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Germans Shoot Civilians - After Binding Them with Ropes - Rushden Soldier's Clear Evidence - German White Flag Treachery
'Steelbacks' in close Quarters with the Enemy

Pte Chas. Tew (Rushden), of the Northamptonshire Regiment, has paid a seven days' visit to his wife and family after having spent four or five months in hospital owing to an attack of enteric fever contracted at the Aisne.

He was called up as a reservist at the beginning of the war, and drafted out to the front with his regiment, participating in the retreat from Mons.

Pte Tew also witnessed the notorious German atrocity, viz., when the enemy approached the British trenches under cover of a white flag and opened fire on out men when they left the trenches to take them prisoners. To a "Rushden Echo" representative Pte Tew said:-

"My regiment arrived at the Aisne on Sept. 14th, after having previously been through the battle of the Marne and the retreat from Mons. On Oct. 11th I was admitted to the hospital at Marseilles with a very bad attack of enteric fever. I can remember being taken out of the trenches, but nothing more until I found myself in hospital three weeks after I was first smitten with fever. During the interim I was either delirious or sleeping heavily. I was brought to England on Dec. 13th and entered the hospital at Addington Park, near Croydon, where I remained for two months, subsequently being allowed to come home to my wife and family.

"At Mons my regiment did not have a great deal to do, as we were held in reserve, but during the retreat we had one or two scraps with the enemy, losing but few men, however. We continued our retreat until we got within 30 kilometres of Paris, and then we commenced to push the enemy back. It was on reaching the Marne that the Steelbacks had their first taste of serious battle, and there the fighting was too hot to be comfortable, most of it being done in the open. On one occasion we fought in a corn field, using sheaves of corn as cover. I am afraid this corn never got carried, as acres of it were burnt and the remainder left to rot. We continued our advance until we reached the Aisne, and it was here that we first got to really close quarters with the enemy.

"On the first Sunday there my regiment were in reserve and sheltered in a large cave, in company with number of civilians from a village near by. About 4 p.m. we got the order to relieve, and we advanced through a wood to a field of mangold wurzels, where we dug ourselves in, this job taking us the whole of the night.

"The German trenches were about 300 yards from ours, they being on one side of a hill and we on the other. This being the case we had to wait until they attempted to charge our trenches before we could get at them with the rifle, unless of course, we were out sniping. We had no bayonet charges at this particular time.

"It was on Sept. 17th that the Germans played a dirty trick on us. They left their trenches and approached us over the brow of the hill, carrying a white flag. Naturally we thought they wished to surrender, and we got out of our dug-outs with the idea of taking them prisoner. As soon as they saw our numerical inferiority the front line lay down and their rear ranks opened a murderous fire on us with rifles and machine guns, with the result that the Northamptonshires suffered very severely. Fortunately, our reserve line noticed what was happening, and opened fire in their turn, with the result that we captured about 200 of the enemy. Ever since that day two Rushden men in my regiment have been missing - Ptes. James and Ingram. I couldn't tell you what happened to them, as I never saw them after that.

"I had one narrow escape on one occasion. I was in a reserve dug-out, and had settled myself down for a rest and a smoke when I felt a smack on my right side, and looking down to see what had happened I found that a bullet had passed through my water bottle, and that all the water was gone. That was the closest shave I ever had, and quite close enough for my liking. (The rules of the censor forbid us to print all that Pte. Tew said regarding this incident. Ed. R.E.).

"On the second day at the Aisne I was sent out sniping on two occasions, and I believe that it was then that I contracted enteric, as numberless bodies were lying about unburied and putrifying [sic], and the stench was fearful. When I got into hospital I found two more of my company who were out with me on the sniping expedition had been sent in with the same complaint. The first two dead men I saw at the front were civilians and looked like French labourers. The Germans had shot both of them through the head, having bound up one of them with a rope. This was during the retreat from Mons, when we also saw the pathetic sight of civilians being driven from their homes, taking with them such of their possessions as they could carry. We helped these all we could and gave them all the food we could spare, as many had been in too much of a hurry to get away to make such provisions for themselves."

Pte Tew returned to the depot last Tuesday. He does not think the war will survive another winter, as, in his own words, "The pace is too hot to last."

At the battle of the Aisne, he said, the Steelbacks lost three very popular officers - Captains Savage, Gordon, and Parker. They are keenly missed by the regiment.

The Rushden Echo Friday 21 January 1916, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Soldier At Home on Leave

Pte Chas. Tew (Rushden), 1st Northants Regiment, who, it will be remembered, was at home in the early part of last year after an attack of enteric fever, contracted at the Aisne, has just spent another few days at home. He is now, we understand in excellent health.

His brother Pte W Tew, 18060, of the 1st Northants Regiment is also with the British Expeditionary Force in France.

The Rushden Echo Friday 18 July 1916, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Soldier in Hospital - Shrapnel in the Face and Arm

Mrs C Tew, of 111 Park-road, Rushden has received official news that her husband, Corpl C Tew, - Northants Regt. has been wounded in action by shrapnel in the face and arm. Corpl Tew wrote to say he was in hospital, and he has since been visited and found to be getting on very well.

Corpl Tew was called up as a reservist when war broke out, and went out to France with one of the first contingents from England. He was formerly employed by Messrs Nurrish and Pallett, Rushden. He was made a corporal about five weeks ago. He is about 30 years old. As reported in this issue, Corpl Tew's brother, Harry Tew has been killed in action. Another brother, William, the eldest, is not serving in France, and was not long ago gassed.

The Rushden Echo, 18th August 1916, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Rushden Soldier in Hospital - Shrapnel Wounds in the Face and Arm

Mrs. C. Tew, of 111 Park-road, Rushden, has received official news that her husband, Cpl C. Tew, --- Northants Regiment, has been wounded in action by shrapnel in the face and arm.

Cpl Tew wrote to say he was in hospital, and he has since been visited and found to be getting on very well.

Cpl Tew was called up as a reservist when war broke out, and went out to France with one of the first contingents from England. He was formerly employed by Messrs. Nurrish and Pallett, Rushden. He was made a corporal about five weeks ago. He is about 30 years old.

As reported in this issue, Cpl C. Tew’s brother, Harry Tew, has been killed in action. Another brother, William Tew, the eldest, is now serving in France, and was not long ago gassed.

The Rushden Echo Friday 23 March 1917, transcribed by Nicky Bates

A Rushden Sergeant Killed - Splendid Record of Service - Over Two Years in the Firing Line - A Fighting Family

Official news was received by Mrs Tew, of 111, Park-road, Rushden, on Sunday, that her husband, Sergt Charles Tew, Northants Regt., has been killed in action in France. Previous to the official communication Mrs Tew received an unofficial intimation of the death of her husband in a letter from one of his pals, Lce-Corpl E J Morris, a sniper, as follows: "Dear Mrs Tew, - I am exceedingly sorry to convey the painful news to you concerning your husband, Charlie, who, I am sorry to say, was killed in action early this morning of March 5th. I hope and trust you will be as brave as he was himself, and try and bear this terrible blow. He was known in this Battalion as one of the bravest and best of men, and loved by all him comrades. I know this is the second time your husband has been reported killed; I am only too sorry to say that the terrible news is this time official. Charlie went into action early on the morning of March 4th with the Battalion, doing his duty bravely until he end, when death overtook him, early the following morning. I do not known how to express my sympathy for you in your hour of trial. I only know that I also have lost in him a dear and brave pal."

At the time of his death Sergt Tew was 31 years of age, and he leaves a widow and one child, a small boy. When the war broke out he rejoined as a reservist, having been with the Colours 13 years. He was employed while he was in the reserve (nearly ten years) by Messrs. Nurrish and Pallet, Rushden, and he went out to France with one of the first contingents. In the early part of 1915 he contracted enteric fever, and spent a short time at home to recuperate. In January, 1916, he came home again on a short leave, and in the following August, after being made a corporal, he was wounded in action in the face and arm, coming home once again to recuperate. He was made sergt. some weeks ago. His was a splendid record of service, and his many friends will deeply regret to learn that he has now fallen a victim to the war. It is made all the more sad by the fact that some time ago his brother, Pte Harry Tew, was killed in action. Another brother, Pte William Tew, is now serving in France, having been out there some time, and during a gas attack in the early part of 1916 was gassed, luckily recovering.

The Rushden Echo Friday 20 April 1917, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Soldier's Sad Fate - News of Sergeant C Tew - Killed Almost Instantaneously - Comrades Search for the Body

In our issue of March 23rd, we published the information that Mrs Tew of 111, Park-road, Rushden, had received official news concerning the death in action of her husband, the late Sergt. C Tew.

Mrs Tew has now received a further communication from Lance-Corpl. E J Morris, a sniper, and friend of her late husband, conveying the news that his body has been discovered and afforded a decent burial. Lance-Corpl Morris writes as follows:-
"I am sure you will feel much easier in mind when I tell you that I have found your husband's body. I asked permission from my regimental Sergt-Major to go and search for him. I was given permission, and Pte Strudwick and myself found the dug-out after a long-search. We both started to dig for all we were worth, and after getting all the earth clear of the shaft-head, we entered the dug-out, and your husband's body was at the bottom of the stairs. I have laid his body to rest in a good grave, where I have erected a cross with these words inscribed: 'In loving memory of Sergt Charles Tew, Headquarters Co., - Northants.' Your beloved husband lies at rest with his head pointing to the east, and his feet towards the village of Bouchavesnas. I have to thank Pte Strudwick for the valuable help he rendered in digging away the earth from the mouth of the shaft before we could enter the dug-out. Charlie must have been killed almost instantly. He had received a very nasty wound on the left side of his left eye; this wound alone looked enough to kill him right out. I am very surprised to say there were no letters or pay-book in his pockets, and I know he had your son's photo in one of his pockets before he went into action. I am sending you everything I found upon his body, which includes his wide waist-belt, which he captured off a German early in the war. There are a pipe and a small pair of scissors. There was nothing else on his body. I am pleased that I was able to get his belt, because you will be sure to know it is the one he brought with him the last time he left England. He thought a lot of this belt, so I thought you would like to have it for your dear son. Dear Charlie was not alone as I also found by the side of him the body of Pte Bridgewater, of the Worcestershire Regt., whom I and Pte Strudwick also buried in a good grave. This fellow had a letter in his pocket addressed to his wife, which I handed over to his regiment, and they will forward it to her. I am sorry there was no correspondence of any sort in Charlie's pockets. I wonder if Corpl Marriot took them out before he managed to escape, but I cannot see how he could have done so, because I had to dig hard for two hours before we could gain entrance to the dug-out. I recovered your husband's body at noon on March 8th. I loved Charlie and would have done any mortal thing for him. I am pleased to think that Pte Strudwick and myself have been successful in finding his body, and thereby giving him a good grave, marked by a cross in memory of a brave soldier. I would have searched the whole battle-field before I should have given it rest. I will forward to you as soon as possible the whole of the things I took from him ... If there is anything more I can do for you I shall only be too pleased. I am pleased to have had the honour of making your mind a little more easy, and both you and I know that your brave husband is buried respectfully." Mrs Tew has received the articles as above mentioned, and has identified them as her husband's property.

A MEMORIAL SERVICE for the late Sergt John Charles Tew, who was killed in action on March 5th, was held at the Harborough-road War Shrine on Sunday at 7.30 p.m. and was conducted by the Rector. The service commenced with the hymn "On the Resurrection morning", this being followed by a lesion and prayer. "Home, sweet home" was then very impressively sung as a duet by Mrs S C Brightwell and Miss West. The Rector followed with a short address speaking on the word "Home," he referred to the deceased soldier's love of his home, and the sorrow that now resigned in that home. Containing the Rector spoke of the eternal home. The hymn "Abide with me" was then sung, and the Rector then gave the benediction. This was followed by the National Anthem and the Last Post was sounded by a bugle party of the Church Lads' Brigade. The large crowd present were greatly impressed by the service, and listened reverently and attentively. In addition to the members of the Church Lads' Brigade who were present there were also members of the 1st Gordon troop of Boy Scouts under Scoutmaster W T L Flood, representing the Park-road Baptist church. Mr Herbert Lack represented the Park-road Baptist Sunday school, and Mr Geo. Selwood, by whom the deceased soldier was formerly employed was also present.

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