GREENAWAY Charles William

Known information

Charles William Greenaway died during desperate fighting in Polygon Wood near Ypres in a battle that led to his Commanding Officer being awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. Charles was the son of George and Julia Greenaway of Tickencote and was born in Edmonton, Middlesex sometime in 1895. In the 1901 census the family was living in Hornsey, north London, but by 1911 Charles was living at 5, Milners Row, Stamford. When war broke out in August 1914, Charles, now working as a footman, was one of those to respond to Lord Kitchener's appeal for volunteers and he enlisted in the newly-formed 9th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment. He went to France on 19 July 1915 and was killed in action in the Battle of Polygon Wood, part of the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) on 1 October 1917. George Phillips in Rutland and the Great War says he was killed alongside his Company Commander. The battalion war diary gives a detailed and gripping account of the action that day. It began with a heavy enemy barrage. The Germans put down a smoke screen in front of the battalion's position on the eastern side of Polygon Wood before making a series of determined attacks. "The first wave of enemy driven off by A Coy [with] Lewis gun and rife fire. Capt A Lee M.C. killed." He may have been Charles' Company Commander mentioned by George Phillips. The situation by now was critical as the Germans made new attempts to break through and threatened the Leicestershires' right flank. Rallying his reserves, Lieutenant Colonel Philip Bent led his men into action: "Two platoons of D Company under Lieut. Colonel P E Bent D.S.O. and B Coy under Lieut. Burn immediately counter-attacked the enemy. Counter-attack was entirely successful and drove enemy from our front. Lieut. Col Bent killed whilst leading the charge." This action led the 26 year old officer being awarded a posthumous VC. Lieutenant Cuthbert Burn was killed as as well. Fighting continued all day and at one stage a German aeroplane flying just 200 feet above the Leicestershires' trenches was shot down. "[The] enemy repeatedly attempted to advance but was driven back by our Lewis gun and rifle fire and the line was held." With reinforcements arriving in the form of the 7th Leicestershires the situation was stabilised. At some point during the battle Charles was killed. George Phillips wrote: "All who knew Private Greenaway had great admiration and affection for him and the officers all spoke well of him and his work." Charles has no known grave and is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Panel 51, along with Lieutenant Colonel Bent, Captain Lee and Lieutenant Burn. Charles is also remembered on the war memorial in Tickencote.

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  • Tickencote Church
  • Tickencote Memorial
  • Tyne Cot drone 1 JS
  • Tyne Cot Memorial
  • C W Greenaway

User contributions

Visited on 25th August 2014
By Catherine Steele on Sunday 14th September '14 at 8:02am
A picture of his name on Tyne Cot Memorial, taken 12 September 2015.
By John Stokes on Sunday 6th December '15 at 12:30pm
A Rutlander, living in Belgium

Rutland and The Battle of the Somme

More than 90 Rutland soldiers died in the Battle of the Somme which lasted from 1 July 1916 until the middle of November. Today they lie in cemeteries across the old battlefield in northern France or are remembered among the 72,000 names on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. By using our interactive map, you can find out what happened to them.

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