© Avening Parish Council 2023
“Preserve, Conserve, Enhance”
33 Charles Eldridge
Private: 14th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment
"A muffled peel was rung at Avening Church on Sunday in memory of a soldier who fell last week. He
was Pte. Charles Eldridge, son of Mr R Eldridge, Nags Head.
Information concerning Pte. Eldridge was received by his parents a week before in a telegram saying that
he been received into No. 3 Stationary Hospital, Rouen with severe injuries to the spine from gunshot
wounds received in action. This was followed by a letter from the Nurse and Chaplain, Rev. H M McKay,
saying that they regretted to inform them that Pte. Eldridge died at 4.30 am September the 3rd. The War
Office formal notification was also received and the message of Royal sympathy. He joined up in
November last and went to France about Whitsuntide. He was formerly employed at Messrs.
Chamberlain's works, Nailsworth."
So read the report in the Stroud News and Journal of the 13th of September 1918.
Charles was one of the youngest Avening men to have died in the Great War. He was just 18 years old.
Although his actual date of birth is not known, it was registered during the last quarter of 1899. His father
was Robert Eldridge, a shepherd who was born at Bibury in 1861 and his mother, Olive (née Ludlow)
who was born in Minchinhampton in the same year. The couple had seven children and were not
strangers to sadness. In 1898 they had twin sons (Charles and Robert) both of whom died in infancy.
Robert died aged just 12 days old and his brother a day later. They were buried, with no service, in our
churchyard on the 29th and 30th of November, but the location of their grave is not known. Almost
exactly a year later another son was born which they also called Charles. A younger sister, Constance
May, was born in 1902 and she was the only one of the family to have been baptised in our church and
then not until 1914.
Charles' military records have not survived but we must assume that he was conscripted immediately
after his 18th birthday and was enlisted into the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Following his formal
training, he left for France in June 1918 and was part of a reinforcement allocation to the 14th Battalion
during the following weeks. During August, the battalion was one of many pushing the German forces
back after their last big push in April and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission tells us that
Charles died in hospital on Saturday the 31st of August 1918*, just 72 days before the Armistice. He was
awarded the Victory and British Medal.
His grave is located in the St Sever Cemetery Extension, at Rouen.
We have been unable to locate any relatives.
* This date varies from the press report of his death.