Lance Corporal 13156
“B” Company 8th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment
Charles Palmer was the son of William and Ellen Palmer, of 22, St. John’s Street, Reading. He is commemorated on his parents grave, the inscription is very indistinct, many of the lead letters are missing. His name appears on the Loos Memorial to the Missing. Panel 93 – 95. He died on 25th September 1915, the first day of the battle, aged 19. He was educated at Christ Church School and employed by Messes Knil and Co. for four years. He was one of the first to enlist in Lord Kitchener’s New Army.
In “Responding to the Call” by Colin Fox et al a detailed account of the battle which started September 25th 1915 is given. Training and rehearsals for the battle by the 8th Battalion had included bomb throwing “with live bombs” and preparations were made for the discharge of chlorine gas which the British Army used for the first time, some six months after the Germans first gas attack.
The order to “stand to” had been given at 3.30am and fix bayonets at 6am. Immediately a bombardment of the enemy trenches began and a release of gas and smoke. In the copses of La Haie and Bois Carré, in front of the attacking 8th Royal Berkshires and the 10th Gloucesters, the Germans had set up machine guns which caused many casualties in the attack across No Man’s Land. Eventually the 8th Battalion captured La Haie and had advanced 400 yards from their starting point. In a second charge the third line, at Gun Trench, was reached by 8.00am and the advance was now 1,200 yards. The final objective was to be Hulluch village but there was strong German resistance and eventually the 8th Battalion pulled back to form a line in Gun Trench. In “Responding to the Call” (page 48) Chapman states that Charles Palmer was amongst the first to fall as the 8th Battalion lead the attack, his body was never found. Charles Palmer had been with a small group of Reading men who had trained and worked together for almost a year. Only two of the group escaped death or injury. Casualties among the men were recorded as 56 killed, 176 wounded and 268 missing.