Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page
Evening Telegraph, Nov 6th 1995
Charlie Fathers
WWI Veteran Recalls :

Army uniform
In Military Uniform
First World War Remembered
'Boys doing men's jobs'

REFLECTING ON THE PAST . . . 96-year-old Charlie Fathers takes a look back down the years and recalls life in the King's Royal Rifle Corps during the First World War.
IN THE week leading up to Remembrance Day the Evening Telegraph is paying tribute to those who served their country in conflicts across the globe. There is little time in today's world to reflect on their sacrifices. But, in the year we celebrate 50 years since the end of the Second World War, it is even more important to remember those who gave their yesterdays for our tomorrows. Today we speak to Charlie Fathers, 96, a First World War Veteran.

OLD soldier Charlie Fathers is hoping to take part in the Remembrance Day parade in Whitehall this year as he has done for the past four.

Charlie aged 96
Now 96, the First World War veteran, is determined to attend the Cenotaph ceremony to pay his respects to those who died.

He remembers the spirit between comrades and his burning desire to join up and do his bit.

Charlie said: "I tried to join up when I was 17 but I wasn't tall enough to pretend I was older.

"I was determined though, and joined on my 18th birthday. My rifle with the bayonet on was taller than I was."

Charlie, who lives with his wife Phyllis in Rose Avenue, Rushden, joined the King's Royal Riflfle Corps, now known as the Green Jackets, as a signaller.

He said: "I was only a kid and didn't know anything. We were boys doing men's jobs."

After training in England, Charlie was posted to France and was involved in the operation to take Vimy Ridge. About 250,000 men lost their lives in that battle.

Marching north, Charlie came close to the front line - and it almost cost him his life. It was the day the war was due to end.

He said: "A shell landed. I heard it coming and I just had time to drop. I was hit in the groin. It was a one in a million chance I lived.

"Two men behind me in a field kitchen were killed and my regimental sergeant major got it. Half his head was blown off. He was a bit taller than me and I am glad I never reached his height.

"It was all dug outs then. You used to do eight or nine days at a time without taking your boots off.

"Our beds were chicken wire and if you went to sleep with food in your pockets it was gone in the morning because the rats used to run all over you.

"We were shelled every, day but they never hit us. It never really affected me, only at night. I was scared stiff then because I couldn't see anyone."

After being injured he spent three months in a Southampton hospital Charlie said: "I missed the end. When the war was over, I was lying on a stretcher in a huge great tent."

Note. Charlie convalesced for a short time at the VAD Hospital in the Parish Rooms, Higham Ferrers.

Click here to return to the main index of features
Click here to return to the People & Families index
Click here to e-mail us