Private Charles Horace Dunkley
118047 11th Bn., Notts and Derby Regiment who died on 24 October 1918
Charles Horace Dunkley, known as Horace, was born October 1899. He was one of 16 children born to Charles Reynold Dunkley, a gas stoker from Aston, Birmingham and his wife Elizabeth (nee Jackson). By the time of the 1911 census it was noted that only 7 children were still living. Children listed in the censuses are Gertrude (1885), George (1894), Sarah (1897), Horace (or ‘Oris’, as he is listed in 1901), Violet (1903), George (1905), Arnold (1906), Charles (1908), Grace (1909). In 1911 the family were living at 162 Star Road, Peterborough.
Sometime after 1915 Charles Reynold and Elizabeth Dunkley separated and Elizabeth moved to Church Farm Cottages, Glen Road, Oadby. This was a small farm on the southern edge of Oadby which was reached by a farm track from Glen Road. It is not known why Oadby was chosen as Elizabeth herself does not appear to have any family links to the village. There was however another family of Dunkleys who attended the Oadby Baptist Chapel at the time. Perhaps they were in laws.
Church Farm located on this map
Horace enlisted in the Northamptonshire Regiment soon after his 15th birthday. His deception was discovered, or possibly his parents went to collect him, and he was discharged as underage on 23 July 1915, having served 252 days. When Horace enlisted for the second time on 24 May 1918 he gave his address as Church Farm Cottages and named his mother Elizabeth as his only next of kin. He was well built at 5’ 8’’ tall and 9st. 5lbs. Horace was posted to the 3rd Battalion (Reserve) Leicestershire Regiment at Halsham Camp near Hull, West Yorkshire
Horace transferred to the Sherwood Foresters on 1 June 1918. On 12 June he was attached to the 4th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment stationed in Sunderland. Like many recruits Horace had probably never seen a doctor and he required a full set of inoculations and vaccines which were administered on the 4, 6 and 20 June. A medical examination on 20 June 1918 revealed multiple problems including eczema, psoriasis and an ‘offensive discharge from the left ear’. Horace was admitted to the Northern General Hospital, Newcastle with a badly infected, perforated eardrum on 21 June. He had recovered sufficiently by September to be absent without leave for two days, while serving at Seaton Delaval Barracks. Horace was confined to barracks for seven days and forfeited a day’s pay. However, not discouraged by this punishment, he was apprehended by the military police in Newcastle at 10.45pm on the 20 September after a further two days absence. This time he received 7 days confinement and lost 2 weeks’ pay.
Patients and staff at the Northern General Hospital in Newcastle-upon-Tyne
On 5 October 1918 Horace sailed from Dover to France with the 15th Battalion Sherwood Foresters. He was transferred to the 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters on 9 October. By the 13 October he was in the front line for the final advance on Picardy. The 23 October saw major advances made by the Allied First, Third and Fourth Armies. However the Germans launched a determined counter attack the following day in which Horace was killed.
Map showing the area over which British and American fought in the days immediately before Horace’s death
An ambulance attends the wounded at the Battle of the Selle 17-25 October 1918
Horace is Buried with Honour in Fontaine-au-Bois Communal Cemetery. He is also commemorated on the Oadby War Memorial.
Other Family Members
In October 1922, Elizabeth Dunkley wrote to the War Office enquiring if Horace’s medals had been issued as she had not received them. The reply stated that they had been forwarded to ‘the person entitled to receive them in accordance with instructions received from the War Office’. Despite Elizabeth being named as Horace’s next of kin and sole legatee, his medals had been sent on 14 June 1922 to Charles R. Dunkley, who was still living in Peterborough and who it appears had written to the War Office. Horace’s private property comprising photos, letters, a hymn book and a photo case had also been sent to his father in April 1920. There is no record of whether Elizabeth ever received the Memorial Plaque awarded to mothers who had lost their sons. She died in Oadby at the end of 1939.
Letter from Elizabeth Dunkley to the War Office