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Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Charlie Keith, Lindale


There are probably two or three hundred memorials to individuals scattered across the county. Most commemorate officers, but there are some that were erected to the memory of private soldiers.


In Lindale churchyard there is a CWGC headstone standing over the grave of 1856 Private Charlie Keith, a young soldier of the 1/4 Kings Own Royal Lancasters. Charlie was the youngest son of William Keith of Yew Trees. Lying in front of the headstone is an inscribed shield,

In lasting memory
of Private Charlie Keith
A Co 4th Batn KORL
Killed at Slough October 21st 1914
Aged 19 Years
A Memento From His
Comrades



The manner of Charlie's death is alluded to in the book The Fourth Battalion The Kng's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) and The Great War, written by two former officers, Lt Col Wadham & Captain Crossley in 1919/20.
It was not to be expected that men fresh from the country, many of whom had never seen an express train before, could carry out these duties on a section ofline such as the one for which the Battalion was responsible, without some casualties occurring. During the time the Battalion was employed on this duty several good men lost their lives in the service of their country, who could no doubt have preferably made the same sacrifice, had the opportunity been given them, against a more vulnerable foe than an express train.

A press report of the funeral suggests that virtually every house in the immediate district was represented in the church and many others from surrounding villages had to stand outside as Boy Scouts wheeled in the bier holding Charlie's coffin, draped with a union flag.

The plaque lay forgotten for years until it was rediscovered by the late Mr Frank Brooks of Grange in the 1990s. However, since being exposed to the elements it has unfortunately weathered heavily and the inscription visible on this photo taken by Howard Martin of Cartmel is now barely legible.

The provision of small memorials, paid for by subscription to honour the memory of men who served in volunteer units, which the 1/4 King's Own was heir to, follows a long tradition. Gardner's at Urswick created in 1821 and illustrated below is another example. Indeed, prior to the Great War they were just about the only form of memorial naming the common soldier to be erected. The death of Regular Soldiers or Sailors was very rarely acknowledged.

2 comments:

Hal Stevens said...

Great work. It's true that most memorials that live on for 100 years or more are those of officers and not usually of enlisted men. So, it was a pleasure to see this post to your blog. Thanks.

The blog said...

Thanks for the comment. I agree. It is good and very poignant to see these memorials to the common man. So sad that the memory of the lives of so many, both those who served and died in many conflicts in our history, is probably lost forever.