Stanstead Abbotts

Local History Society

Charles HARWOOD


Private 12697

6th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment


Killed in Action 15th July 1916 aged 21

Born in1895, in Stanstead Abbotts, one of twelve, and shown as living in 1901 and 1911 with his parents James and Sarah along with six of his siblings in South Street.  His father occupation is listed as a malt maker while Charles is a butcher’s assistant.


When Charles enlisted in the army he joined the 6th Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment.  This was one of the service battalions, meaning they had been raised for the duration of the war only, as part of Lord Kitchener’s “new” army, which had its main baptism of fire at the first Battle of the Somme from 1st July to the beginning of November 1916.  Charles’s battalion was part of the 112th Brigade of the 37th Division.

On 15th July 1916, the 112th Brigade including the 6th Bedfordshire were ordered to attack the German held village of Pozieres.  This village on the main road to Bapaume had been one of the objectives of the first day of the battle, but it did not fall until the end of the month.  When the attack went in the British troops were held up by very heavy machine gun fire from German strong points that had been in place and prepared for months, and which had been largely untouched by an Allied artillery bombardment that had lasted for a week non-stop.

In that one attack on 15th the 6th Battalion suffered 243 casualties from a force of just over 500, including 25 men listed as missing, one of them was Charles.


His body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial.


Medals Awarded: British War Medal, Victory Medal, 1915 Star