Charles Alfred Reeves was born in 1895 in Edmonton, north London. He was the son of bricklayer Charles and his wife, Elizabeth Reeves. In 1901, Charles was at school and lived on Silver Street in Lambourne, Abridge, Essex. By 1911, Charles was working as a labourer and living with his family at Gainsborough House, Gainsborough Road, Woodford Bridge.
Charles was a soldier with the 4th Battalion, Queen’s Own Hussars at the Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland when war broke out. He was involved in the retreat from Mons and the ’race to the sea’. By October, only the British army at Ypres could prevent the Germans from bypassing Paris and seizing the Channel Ports. Thefirst battle of Ypres lasted from October to November 1914 beginning with a major German offensive.
On 31st October 1914, under Major Howell, the dismounted troopers were holding a line between Wytschaete and the Comines Canal. They had returned to the front line where they had previously dug trenches to find the Germans had advanced to some 800 yards away. A second set of trenches were dug under shell fire. A large body of German infantry tried to advance from Hollebeke to the bridge north of the village which, owing to lack of explosives had not been effectively blown up. From their positions in the Hollebeke Woods, in spite of heavy and continuous shelling from four German batteries, the Hussars stopped the German advance, inflicting such heavy losses on the enemy that attempts to reach the bridge were abandoned.
When the regiment was withdrawn to St. Eloi, Charles was missing. It is believed he was in trenches which sustained considerable damage during the barrage. Charles was reported as ‘Killed in Action’ but his body was not found. His name appears on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium.
Research by Adrian Lee, Local Historian
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Marching off to War Book