1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

Christopher Dartnell

Contributed by: Sheila Dartnell, on 2008-11-05

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Rank
First Name Christopher
Surname Dartnell
Year of Birth 1897
Year of Death 1917
Regiment Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
Place of Wartime Residence Lambeth, Greater London

Christopher's Story

Extract from letter by Ethel Florence Humphreys (nee Dartnell) born in 1903 and written to her daughter in 1980 just before her death.

Ethel was the youngest of 12 children and the sister to my Great Uncle Christopher Dartnell "whose name is commemorated on the Stockwell War Memorial 1914-1918" My next vivid memory was War being declared in August 1914. My brothers, Roger, Jim and Fred were called up and transported to France and India. My father was called to repair the Hospital ships and was often in France for a month at a time. His trade was plumbing. It was frightening when the Zeppelins came over and dropped bombs and you wondered if you might be killed when they came your way. We very often stayed and sheltered in the underground where the trains were stationary until All Clear was sounded.

Next to be called up was my brother Chris, when he was 18. He hated war and violence and often wished he was not in the Army. When he had leave from France he never wanted to go back after his leave and the last break he had from the trenches he didn't go back until after another day had passed. That was in 1917 (May). We then had a telegram to say he was killed in action in October "he was just 21. We all were very shocked because of this and the news that my brother Bill had been wounded in German East Africa and was on his way home having been shot in his right hand and had lost a thumb and was also wounded in the right hip. So he was out of soldering for good. He became a Commissionaire for a firm in the City of London.

My last brother, Reg was called up when he was 18 in January 1918 and sent to France for the big push in May 1918. We had a couple of cards from him the first few weeks and then no more news until August that he was a prisoner of war.

Thank goodness they all arrived home except Chris, safe and well after the war ended in November 1918.

Then Armistice was declared in November 1918 and we were told to go home at lunchtime. I remember going to see the masses of people gathering in the Strand, London and felt lost in the crowd. People dancing and cheering and drinking. I had to walk home as there were no buses running. When I reached my house my Mother was crying because her son, Chris, had been killed and would not be returning and my other brother Reg was still a prisoner of war and we were still waiting to hear if he was still alive.

Christopher was my great uncle. He died on 16 October 1917 at Sanctuary Wood. I have visited his grave at Hooge Crater Cemetery and it was a very moving experience.

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