Early Life and Outbreak of War
Charles GOMERY was born on 27th August 1875 at Welsh Newton in Herefordshire, the son of Henry GOMERY an agricultural labourer and his wife Mary PROBERT. In 1909 Charles married Mary Beatrice LANGLEY and they lived in Blaina in Monmouthshire. In 1915 their address was given as 22A Club Row, Blaina, Monmouthshire. The couple had four children -
The outbreak of war on 4th August 1914 brought a massive surge of volunteers to recruiting offices throughout Great Britain. The initial uptake of volunteers were placed in the Territorial Force battalions of the local infantry regiments, and were placed depending on their knowledge. These measures were not enough to fulfil the need for more infantry battalions, so service battalions were formed, being allocated new battalion numbers under the local county regiment. The service battalions were formed in many local areas as thousands of men responded to Field Marshall Lord Kitchener's appeal for volunteers. In contrast to regular and territorial battalions which recruited county wide, the service battalions were initially formed from local communities and areas. Some prided themselves as being "pals battalions" where the entire workforce of a company, or all the members of the local boys' brigade enlisted at the same time.
The King's Shropshire Light Infantry
It was into one of these service battalions that Charles enlisted at Shrewsbury, Shropshire - the 6th (Service) Battalion of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry - as a Company Sergeant Major, No.13917. To have been made a C.S.M. suggests that he had prior service experience in either the regular army or in the volunteers/territorials. The 6th (Service) Battalion of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry was formed, by companies, at different towns in the county and left the depot for Blackdown on 10th September 1914, as part of the second of Kitchener's New Armies.
Recruits enlisted at such a speed that there was great difficulty in clothing and equipping them. No uniform was available until November 1914, so a suit of emergency blue was issued to each man. Rifles were in short supply with the few old ones available being supplemented with poles and stakes for drill purposes; only one company at a time could do its musketry course, then handing over the rifles to the next company. In April 1915 the battalion moved to Larkhill on Salisbury Plain for final intensive training, becoming a unit of the 60th Brigade. On 21st-22nd July 1915 the battalion left by train for Folkestone en route for Boulogne. After a very rough channel crossing in heavy rain they made there way to the Osterhove Rest Camp, arriving at 3.00am. It was a cold morning with heavy rain and the camp was all mud and chaos, the Salvation Army hut they rested in gave only a little comfort. At 12.00 noon they marched to Pont de Brique railway station and were on their way to St Omer. On 26th July they joined the rest of the 60th Brigade at Arques and the following day were marched over the cobbled roads, in full marching order, to Borre.
During August platoons from each company went into the trenches for twenty four hours to be shown the ropes by the West Yorkshire regiment. Casualties were light during August and September with the battalion only loosing two men.
The Battle of Loos
Charles Gomery died on Saturday 2nd October 1915, aged 41 years, of wounds received in the Battle of Loos which was the battalions first engagement of importance. "The History of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry" describes the Battle of Loos thus:-
"In supporting the 12th Rifle Brigade in their attack D and A Companies of the 6th K.S.L.I. entered the sap and on emerging D company extended to the right whilst A company extending to the left entered the Hun trenches at the apex of the salient in close touch with the 12th Rifle Brigade. The Rifle Brigade continued the advance, but were driven back by a counter attack, and streamed through the two companies of the 6th K.S.L.I. back to the original front line, losing heavily. Lieut. Gielgud, B Company, 6th K.S.L.I. was badly wounded, and whilst being brought back was left with many other wounded on a stretcher on the surface. This was due to the press of troops advancing up the main communication trench, which obliged the bearers to place the stretchers with their wounded on the surface under very heavy gunfire. The two Companies of the 6th K.S.L.I. were still in possession of the enemy front line, and did much slaughter during the German counter attack. Later, much to their surprise, the company commanders received orders, first to advance south-east and connect up with the Bareilly and Garhwal Brigades, then another order to retire back to the original line; here the gallant Colonel Moore was seen on our parapet under heavy fire, waving his stick and shouting for the companies to fall back, on orders received from the Brigadier. A and D Companies of the battalion were thankful that the sap existed, otherwise their casualties would have been heavy across "No Man's Land". At 2 p.m. the 6th K.S.L.I. was back in its own front line much depleted. The operations had been successful in this sector, only so far as they held the enemy to his ground, and thus prevented him from sending reinforcements to the scene of the main attack. The battalion lost 4 officers and 59 other ranks."
Charles was buried in the Longuenesse Souvenir Cemetery near St Omer, 45 kilometres south-east of Calais.
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