Saturday, 12 July 2014

C E Ditton

Charles Edward Ditton
Born in March 1888, Truro, Cornwall   Killed in Action 16 October 1918 near Heule, Belgium
Lance Corporal  43387 Royal Irish Fusiliers  9th (North Irish Horse) Battaliohn
Formerly with 1/9 London Regiment

Charles was born in Truro in March 1888. He was baptised at St Paul's, Truro, on 24 April 1888.  He was the second son of Frederick Ditton and Edith Jewell.  The couple had 14 children in all:

Ethel 1884 - 1915?
Lillian 1885 - 1952
Frederick James 1887
Charles Edward
Sidney Jewell 1889 - 1959
Clara Gwendoline 1891 - 1990
Edith Mary 1893 - 1977
Florence Gertrude Helena 1895 - 1984
Harry Jewell 1897 - 1984
Dorothy May 1898 - 1984
Frances Anna 1900 - 1960
Marion Grace 1902 - 1998
Kathleen Marjorie 1905- 1954
Phyllis Monica 1908 - 2005
 (Approximate dates)

Frederick, a native of Brixton, London, was a grocer, as was his Cornish mother, Eliza Lukes.  Edith was the daughter of farmer James Jewell and his wife Ann.  She was born at St Erme.  The couple married on 27 May 1883 at St Paul's, Truro.  

Curiously, Frederick's widowed mother, Eliza Lukes Ditton, married Frederick's widowed future father-in-law, James Jewell, in 1881.  Even more curiously, James had been married to Anna Lukes, Eliza's sister.  She was therefore Edith's aunt by blood and became her step-mother, as well as her mother-in-law!

Frederick died in 1909, leaving Edith to bring up the younger children on her own.  

By 1911, Charles and his brother Frederick had moved to London to work for Cook, Son & Co., at that time the country's largest wholesale clothing company.  Both men were living at the company's hostel for their commercial travellers.  They would have travelled the country by rail with samples of their employer's merchandise.  

Charles joined the London Regiment as a rifleman in 1915.  In  November 1916 he was discharged so that he could join the Royal Irish Fusiliers.  This was also the year in which he married Nora Lucinda Pemberton Stevens, a school teacher from Penzance.  The couple had no children.

In May 1917, Charles fell "dangerously ill" - a telegram to this effect was sent to his wife, and a further letter advised her that permission to visit her husband  (suffering lumbar pneumonia) at the hospital in Boulognecould not be granted.  The Lance Corporal rallied and was well enough to have a furlough from 29 August to 7 September 1917 which he spent with his wife at "Delafosse", Tower Road, Newquay.

According to the unit's war diary, The Royal Irish Fusiliers were at Dadizeele at the beginning of October 1918.  On 4 October they relieved the 9th Royal Inniskilling Rifles at Hill 41.  They had 13 officers and 390 other ranks.  By the 7 October, it was noted that the enemy were cutting wire at night in preparation for an attack.  A raid was carried out by the Royal Irish on 11 October and 14 prisoners were captured and 10 enemy soldiers killed, losing 6 men themselves when the enemy counter-attacked.  They then went into reserve.  Back in the line by 14 October, the 9 Battalion joined the Battle of Courtrai.  

The Battalion's principle objective was to attack, capture and hold the crossing over the River Lys.  The advance started at 5.35am.  The Royal Engineers knocked out the bridges and by 6pm the last of the Battalion withdrew.  One man of the Battalion was killed that day:  Charles Ditton.

Nora stayed in Newquay after the war, along with her mother Lucy and two of her sisters. Her War Widow Pension was sent at first to 50 Tower Road; she was awarded 13 shillings 9d a week.  Later she lived at Arlington House on Berry Road.  Nora did not remarry and died on 9 May 1945, leaving her sisters £4,170 in her will.

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