Topic: Charles Thomas Gaskell

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Charles Thomas Gaskell (Service No. 11644) was a First World War soldier with links to Upper Riccarton.

Charles Thomas Gaskell was born in Upper Riccarton, Christchurch, New Zealand on 11th February 1893. He was the son of Thomas Matthew Gaskell (sometimes spelt Gaskill) and Emma Allnutt. They married in New Zealand in 1877. Thomas and Emma had another seven children; Clara Emily (born 1878), Harry (1880), Gertrude (1882), Rosa (1885), William (1889), Margaret (1891) and Dora (1898). Thomas and Emma are buried in St Peters churchyard, Upper Riccarton and their son Charles' name is inscribed on their headstone.

Thomas Matthew Gaskell was born in Canterbury in 1852. His parents Thomas Gaskell and Sarah Fearns came from Disley, Cheshire, England.

Emma Allnutt came to New Zealand with her father Thomas and younger brother Henry on the ship Tweed in 1874. She was born about 1856 in Crowmarsh, Oxfordshire, England. On the 1871 English census Emma was recorded working as a housemaid for a farmer Joseph Franklin and his family.

Charles enlisted in the army on 12th January 1916, and was posted to the Canterbury Company, 12th Reinforcements, Service Number 11644. At that time he was working as a horse trainer. His last employer was H. W. Kitchingham of Greymouth. He trained horses at the Greymouth Trotting Club. His brother Harry was a trainer for H. W. Kitchingham as well and in 1913 Harry left Greymouth and returned to Christchurch to manage Kitchingham's new stud farm in Russley. Charles dedicated his time to the horses until he decided it was time to go to war.

Charles noted on his attestation form that he had previously been rejected from military service because he had chronic heart disease however his medical examination says his heart was normal and he was declared fit for service. Charles was described as being 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighed 136 pounds. He had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and black hair.

In April 1916 Charles and his friend Private D. Jones were on final leave before going overseas when their friends threw them a farewell party at Russley. They both worked for Mr Kitchingham. Their friends gave them each a safety razor and Mr Kitchingham gave them wrist watches.

Charles left Wellington, New Zealand on the Ulimaroa on 1st May 1916 and arrived in Suez, Egypt 9th June 1916. Harry was in Egypt for about 6 weeks training before catching another ship from Alexandria to Southampton in England. He had 2 weeks at Sling Camp before embarking another ship to France arriving at Etaples on 21st August 1916. Charles was reported missing on 20th September, 1916.

A court of enquiry was held in 1917 to decide what had happened to Charles after he was reported missing on 20th September 1916. R D Russell (service number 6/3151) gave evidence that he returned to the field after the battle and saw Charles lying on the ground. He turned the body over and saw that Charles had suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the chest. The Court of enquiry accepted this evidence and decided that Charles was killed in action in the field on 29th September 1916.

Charles Thomas Gaskell's name is recorded on the Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial in the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, Somme, France. His name is on Stone 3 along with other men from the Canterbury Regiment. He is also remembered on the Upper Riccarton Memorial Library Roll of Honour.

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Charles Thomas Gaskell

First Names:Charles Thomas
Last Name:Gaskell
Place of Birth:Upper Riccarton, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand