Remembering: Charles Trow

Remembering: Charles Trow

Born in the summer of 1896, Grandad Charlie was one of 11 children born to John & Ann, with a further three younger half-siblings. He lived his entire life on the Welsh border. Even as some siblings moved away for work, Grandad preferred to stay in the area he grew up in, the rural area generations before him had lived their lives. Only The Great War could drag him away.

Grandad Charlie
Grandad Charlie

Grandad Charlie enlisted on 11th December 1915 but was called up for service in the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers on 5th March 1917. He served as a Lewis Gunner on the Western Front, I believe he was in the Battle of Passchendaele (also known as the Third Battle of Ypres). We have been told he was rescued by another man in the field, but I don’t know any details (I can only be eternally grateful).

Grandad's Certificate of Employment during WW1.
Grandad’s Certificate of Employment during WW1.
Royal Welsh Fusiliers
Royal Welsh Fusiliers (Grandad is back row, second from the right).
Royal Welsh Fusiliers (Grandad is fifth from the right).
Royal Welsh Fusiliers (Grandad is fifth from the right).

In September 1917, the War Office Weekly Casualty List noted Grandad as wounded. He was also listed as missing in the 5th November 1918 Casualty List, but the family had already received a postcard in October from the British Red Cross stating that although wounded he was reported as a Prisoner of War (Camp not stated). So there was must have been a delay in reporting.

Postcard from the British Red Cross.
Postcard from the British Red Cross.

On 27th November 1918, Grandad was admitted to the 31st Ambulance Train at Valenciennes and taken to Calais. He arrived at Dover on 1st December 1918. Grandad was transferred to the Army Reserve on 22nd October 1919 and he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his service in the Great War.

Grandad's Railway Warrant.
Grandad’s Railway Warrant.
Grandad's Demob Papers.
Grandad’s Demob Papers.

As with many other soldiers in The Great War, Grandad didn’t talk about his time in the war. It just wasn’t the done thing back then. He sadly died when I was two years old, so I never got to ask him myself.

Grandad Charlie.
Grandad Charlie.

Unfortunately, Grandad’s World War I service records seem to have been among the two-thirds of the 6.5 million soldier records destroyed by fire thanks to an incendiary bomb at the War Office Record Store in September 1940. However, he kept the paperwork he had been given and so I’m lucky enough to have them in my own personal files.

On 30th June 1924, Grandad re-enlisted in the Territorial Army Reserves and was discharged again on 29th June 1928.

Home Guard Live Grenades Certificate.
Home Guard Live Grenades Certificate.

During World War II, Grandad served his country once again, this time in The Home Guard. Grandad was certified as having attended a practical examination at a Bombing Range and was qualified to assist in the throwing of live grenades. During this time, my grandparents also took in several evacuees (mainly cousins from other parts of the country).

Grandad & me.
Grandad & me.

Grandad Charlie died at the grand old age of 86. I only wish I’d been old enough to know him properly.


  1. You are so lucky to have a Grandad who was willing to share some of his experiences with the family, so many returning soldiers refused point blank to discuss anything they had seen or done during their war service. To have copies of those precious documents is also amazing.

    Coming from Swindon, the hub of the rail network and manufacturing of rolling stock until recent years, most of my family worked in the rail workshops and were by default, classified to be in a ‘reserved occupation’ and therefore exempt from war service in the military.

    My Grandad passed away when I was quite young (5), and I really wish that I could have got to know him better, as I remember him being a lovely man.

    Thank you for sharing such personal memories 🙂

    • Nikki says:

      Grandad Charlie didn’t ever talk about his time in the war. All my research has been through the documents he left and anything I could find on archives online. Dad thinks I would have been the one person who might have been able to get some stories out of Grandad Charlie if I had been older when he died.

  2. Your grandad sounds like a wonderful man, it’s a shame you weren’t old enough to know him but good that you have some of his documents and photos to remember him by.

    I never really knew any of my grandparents. Those on my mum’s side died long before I was born as did my grandad on my dad’s side – my grandma was a peculiar woman, very reclusive and not the sort of grandma you could be close to. My dad served in the RAMC during WW2, spending time with the ambulance train somewhere in Europe but neither he nor my mum ever talked about the war so I know nothing about his time in the army or my mum’s life while he was away. It’s a shame really as now I’m older there are so many questions I’d like to ask them but sadly I lost them both 16 years ago.

  3. Kelly says:

    How wonderful that you have all these records and the photos! I think it was common for men not to talk of their experiences, both in the Great War and in WWII. For that matter, my husband is a Vietnam vet and he rarely ever talks of his time there.

    Love that final photo.

  4. Kris P says:

    How wonderful that you have access to records like that, Nikki! the photograph of him with you as an infant is very special. Both my father and stepfather served in WWII but my grandfathers, both of whom immigrated to the US from Scandinavia, never served in any war to my knowledge.

  5. lisl says:

    I was very touched to read your account of your Grandfather’s Service life, Nikki. It is good that what you have gleaned of it from his photos and records will not be lost. To know more may have saddened you, but I understand how much you would have loved to have been able to talk to him and learn what he had experienced. My Great-Uncle served from day one in the Great War and very sadly died of wounds on Armistice Day

  6. Jo says:

    Didn’t he look smart in his uniform. What a terrible war it was, robbing families of their loved ones. Thank goodness he managed to get home and how lovely that you have records that he kept.

  7. Ann says:

    What a wonderful post and tribute to your granddad Charlie, Nikki.
    We cannot even start to grasp what these men have been through. And he was one of the lucky ones to survive Passchendaele … How wonderful that you’ve got all those photos and documents! xxx

  8. CherryPie says:

    A lovely collection of memories of you granddad.

    My Great Uncle was involved in the same war as a medic. We have no photos of him only one of his medals and family anecdotes.

  9. Ann Coleman says:

    Your granddad sounds like a wonderful person who endured a lot, and yet still lived a full life. I’m sorry he passed before you were able to talk to him, but glad you have these records of his extraordinary life!

  10. Aimsy says:

    What a great story of your grandad! It is amazing that you still have the paperwork, we have my grandad’s photos from his time in ww2 and his ration book. They are great to look through, aren’t they?
    Thanks fro sharing your story 🙂
    Aimsy xoxo

  11. Wow, he was at just the right age to be in both wars. It is really nice that you have all of his records! My great-grandpa was wounded in WWI, and my grandpas were all in WWII, but we don’t have all the records like you do. What a great way to record and remember his story!

  12. Jean says:

    What an interesting story. So nice that you have some records and can piece together what happened. I have just watched the movie 1917 – which seems to depict fairly well what it was like on the western front at the time your grandfather served.

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