Soldier riddle solved

Pte Charles Baker
Pte Charles Baker

The fate of a Burnley soldier in the First World War has been discovered nearly a century later by the grand-daughter he never knew.

Pte Charles Baker died of wounds he sustained during the ill-fated Somme Offensive in August, 1916.

Now his grand-daughter Carol Palmer, of Troon, Scotland, has discovered his final resting place in France.

Carol said: “I recently visited the Somme with friends, and tried to find out any details I could before visiting. I obtained my father’s birth certificate which gave me the names of my paternal grandparents.

“I only knew my grandfather hadn’t survived the war but no idea how he died or when.”

Carol discovered from the Commonwealth War Graves website that Charles had died in July 1916 at the age of 29 and was buried in Abbeville Cemetery in northern France.

“He must have been involved in one of the many battles on the Somme which took place in July through to November 1916.

“He was wounded and moved towards the coast for transportation back to the UK but died of his injuries.”

Carol returned to France for a second visit and located her grandfather’s grave.

She added: “I was the first member of my family to visit and pay my respects to my grandfather. It was an emotional and very humbling experience, one I shall never forget. The cemeteries in Belgium and France are quite immaculate with lovely small bushes and flowers at each grave. I put wooden crosses and a special one from myself and my sister Anne at the grave and wrote in the visitors’ book.

“All the areas are very beautiful and today peaceful. It is so hard to imagine the utter desolation, destruction and loss of so many young lives which took place in both world wars. I don’t think the public in Britain had any real idea how dreadful the Great War was.

“Trench warfare was totally brutal with few survivors, conditions utterly appalling. There has been nothing like like it since.

“I am so proud of my grandfather but not of the sacrifices these young men were asked to give.

“I think it was utterly futile and a complete waste of so many young lives but the least we can do is remember them whenever the opportunity arises.”

Pte Baker, of the 8th King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, lived at 19 Whittaker Street in Burnley.