Charles Stanley Sutton
Son of Joseph and Emily Sutton, of 9, Stanley St., Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand. Born at Dorking, Surrey.
He was born in Dorking, Surrey, son of Joseph and Emily Sutton, of 9 Stanley Street, Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand. The family moved to Canada, at some point - Charles attested Saskatoon as his Next of Kins' address, which may or may not be correct as he also attested that his date of birth was July 1896, in Kent, U.K. - in fact, records show that he was born in 1899. ( Register of Births, UK)
He completed his attestation papers on Saturday 3rd October 1914 whilst sailing with the Battalion to England. He did not give details of his trade or calling and was described as 5ft 10½in tall, with a 35½in chest, a fair complexion, blue eyes, fair coloured hair and acne marks on his back.
Charles landed in Devonport on Monday 19th October and sent for training at ‘Pond Farm Camp’ on Salisbury Plain. He entrained in Amesbury on Wednesday 10th February bound for Avonmouth where he boarded the SS Kingstonian and sailed to St Nazaire. He arrived off the post on Wednesday 13th but the ship was blown onto a sandbank and it was not until the next afternoon did it dock and Charles was able to disembark. A long and tiring train journey took him to Borre where billets were provided. He marched to Strazeele on Saturday 20th where at 11.30am Field Marshal Sir John France inspected the Battalion and the next day moved to Romarin. Whilst in the village Charles began fatigues and was sent into the trenches for practical experience with the Royal Irish Fusiliers. During the first visit to the front line Private Wilson Davis was killed on Thursday 25th and is buried in Prowse Point Military Cemetery. Three days later Charles paraded and marched to Bac St Maur, via Armentières where General Sir Edwin Alderson addressed a parade at 3.00pm on Tuesday 2nd March. At 6.00pm on Friday 5th he marched to the trenches at La Boutillerie to begin his first tour of duty. He served in the sector for the rest of the month that was relatively quiet except for constant shelling by both sides and the ever present snipers.
In early April he moved to a camp near Abeele where training began and General Alderson again inspected a parade. General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien inspected the Battalion on Sunday 11th April prior to the Battalion being deployed to the Ypres Salient. The Battalion relieved the French infantry on Thursday 15th where considerable work had to be undertaken to make the trenches usable and to establish proper barbed defences. The hard work digging continued under shellfire until late on Monday 19th when he was relieved and sent into reserve in Ypres. The German barrage on the town was increasing in intensity and shortly before 5.00pm on Thursday 22nd the gas cloud was spotted floating on the wind. At that stage no-one knew its significance or its dreadful effects. As the German attack began the Battalion was ordered to Wieltje where they prepared to participate in the defence of the line and undertake a counter-attack. A few minutes before midnight the advance began on ‘Kitchener’s Wood’ and a fierce battle began. Lieutenant Colonel Russell Lambert Boyle led his men forward saying: “We have been aching for a fight, and now we are going to get it.” By 12.20am Charles was ordered to dig-in under severe machine-gun and rifle fire. At dawn Colonel Boyle was mortally wounded and invalided from the line, he died on Sunday 25th April and is buried in Poperinghe Old Military Cemetery. The losses amongst the Battalion began to mount until being relieved to reserve where Charles took ammunition to the front line before returning to the fray. The enemy mounted a number of attacks against the line and kept up constant fire on the Battalion line until they were relieved on Tuesday 27th to the west bank of the canal.
Charles marched to Bailleul on Wednesday 5th May, via Ouderdom and Locre. After a short rest he continued to billets in Merris where he was able to properly clean up before commencing training. At 10.00am on Sunday 9th the Battalion paraded with the Brigade for an inspected by General Alderson who thanked the assembled ranks for their good work on the Salient. A series of marches took Charles to Rue du Bois where he arrived on Tuesday 18th and the next day went into the newly captured line at Rue de l’Épinette. During the night of Thursday 20th Charles took part in an abortive attack on the enemy but their machine-gunners cut many of his comrades down. With artillery support another attack was mounted the next evening where some ground was captured. From dawn on Saturday 22nd a series of counter-attacks were made on his line that were repulsed. After being in action in the front line for several days Charles was relieved to Hamel on Wednesday 26th where when the roll was called it showed that eighteen officers and more than two hundred and fifty men were casualties. He returned to the line on Tuesday 1st June for a five-day tour of duty and when relieved was sent to Hinges for rest followed by training that lasted until Thursday 17th. Charles went into reserve for twenty-four hours before going back into the trenches for five days. He remained in the sector either in the front line, in reserve, undertaking fatigues or resting over the ensuing weeks. General Sam Hughes visited the Battalion on Saturday 7th August and took the opportunity of speaking to the men.
The next significant action that Charles participated in was during the afternoon of Wednesday 13th October. A number of smoke bombs were launched at the enemy trenches at 3.27pm that brought a swift reply from the German artillery coupled with rapid fire from their trenches. The ‘smoke demonstration’ adequately showed its use during an attack and the High Command were satisfied with the Battalion’s work.
In early November Charles moved from northern France and crossed the border to ‘Bulford Camp’ where he began fatigues from Thursday 4th then went into the water-logged trenches on the Douve. Late on Sunday 21st, whilst with a working party, Charles was hit by machine-gun fire and wounded. He was stretchered to the rear and died a few days later from his injury.
Paul Foster, from a forthcoming, yet untitled volume. February 2013.
There are no public contributions written for this casualty
Text in italics supplied by Cenotaph Online, Auckland War Memorial Museum