Remembering the World at war: The mystery of Pte. Charles Marshall

Justin Crann
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There is little known about the Canadian soldier named Private Charles Marshall except that it was a sad circuitousness that brought him back too soon to the place he was born in order to be buried.

Marshall was born in Lincolnshire, England on April 17, 1892. He was the second of four siblings, all born to Barney and Mary Marshall.

His family were farmers, and Marshall grew up on the family farm, eventually being put to work on it.

But the relatively peaceful and stationary life of a farmer was not to endure for Marshall, who sometime between his 18th birthday in 1911 and the onset of the First World War in 1914, emigrated to Canada and took up residence in Moose Jaw.

When the war broke out, Marshall enlisted and was placed in the 46th Battalion — known commonly as “the Suicide Battalion” for its high rate of fatalities.

He would have been among the Battalion’s first wave of recruits: the unit was authorized on Nov. 7, 1914.

It is not known if Marshall enlisted on his own or would have signed up with one or both of his brothers, all of whom would have been more than 20 years old. It is also unknown whether he migrated to Moose Jaw on his own or with family, though his mother and father remained in England.

At that time, Marshall was almost 23 years old.

He trained in Canada for almost a year before the Battalion embarked for Britain on Oct. 23, 1915.

Marshall continued his training in England. The eventual goal was France, where the Battalion participated in many well-known battles, including the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and Passchendaele.

Unlike many soldiers in the First World War, however, he would not survive to sail with his Battalion and participate in battle.

On Nov. 11, 1915, Marshall died while he was in training at Bramshott Camp Hants — a temporary military training grounds erected by the Canadian Forces. There exists no records detailing his death or naming a specific cause.

His body was transported back to Lincolnshire, where he was buried beside his mother in Greatwell Cemetery.

Within the adjacent church, a plaque commemorating the man was mounted by his fellow soldiers.

It is unknown if any of his family survived the First World War, or if he has any relatives or ancestors residing either in Lincolnshire, England or in Moose Jaw.

Justin Crann can be reached at 306-691-1265 or follow him on Twitter @J_Crann

Organizations: Canadian Forces

Geographic location: England, Lincolnshire, Moose Jaw Canada Britain France Greatwell Cemetery

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