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964 2nd Corporal
Royal Engineers

Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis
2003. All Rights Reserved.

Family History

Charles Ernest Barlow was born in the Parish of St. Anne's in Soho, London on the 17th of September 1890. He was the only child of Joshua Barlow and Maria (nee Cann), the daughter of Mr. William Cann.

The 1901 British Census verifies that Charles Ernest Barlow was born in Soho, London. The census record shows the following details:

Civil Parish:


Ecclesiastical Parish:

St. Anne

Parliamentary Borough or Division:


Administrative County:


At the time of the 1901 Census, Charles was a 10-year old student and was living with his parents at 20 Great Chapel Street in the Soho district of London.[1] His father, Joshua, had been born in St. Anne's Parish in London and was 44 years of age at the time of the census. Joshua Barlow's occupation is listed as an employed "Gold Jeweler."

The Barlow Family

The 1881 Census shows at the time of that census Joshua Barlow was living with his mother, Frances Barlow, at 15 Old Compton Street in the Parish of St. Anne's, Soho, London, Middlesex. Frances Barlow was 61 years old in 1881, a widow, and head of her household. Her occupation is listed as "family duties," so presumably she did not work outside her home, but rather she tended to the needs of her family. In 1881 the Barlow household consisted of three sons, two daughters and a granddaughter. Frances Barlow's eldest son John was 32 years old and worked as an engraver (artist). Joshua, 24 years of age worked as a jeweler and his twin brother George was employed as an engraver (artist) like his older brother John. Jessie Barlow, the eldest daughter, aged 27 years worked as a dressmaker and the youngest daughter, Annie, aged 19 years apparently helped he mother with "house work" at home. The granddaughter, Edith Taylor, was seven years old at the time and a "scholar."[2]

The Cann Family

Charles's mother, Maria Barlow (formerly Cann), had been born in St. Giles Parish in London and was 47 years old at the time of the 1901 census. She is not shown as being employed outside the home in the 1901 census return. The 1881 Census shows that Maria, aged 25 years, was living in the home of her father William Cann at 14 Bentinck Street in St. James Parish, Westminster, London, Middlesex. William Cann was a 62-year old widower at the time of the census and was employed as a journeyman tailor. He had been born in Bideford, Devonshire. Maria was employed as a relief stamper for a stationer. William Cann had two sons and another daughter living in his household in 1881. James Cann, aged 22 years, was employed as a journeyman watchmaker and his brother Thomas, aged 19 years worked as a warehouseman for a musical instrument shop. William Cann's youngest daughter, Frances, aged 16 years, was not employed and probably helped her father with the household chores.[3]

Early Life

As a young boy, Charles was educated at St. Anne’s School in Middlesex. He became a chauffeur by trade prior to the start of the Great War of 1914-1918.[4]

Charles Ernest Barlow married Lillian Todd, daughter of Mr. John Todd of 6 Church Street, Old Town, Bexhill-on-Sea, at Walthamstow, Essex on the 18th of January 1914. Charles and Lillian Barlow lived at 49 Hawarden Road, Blackhorse Road in Walthamstow, Essex after they were married.[5] The Barlows had a daughter, Marie Lillian, who was born on the 31st of January 1915 while Barlow was on active service in France.[6]

Military Service

Charles Ernest Barlow enlisted as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers in October of 1914 for service in the Great War of 1914-1918. He enlisted at St. Leonard’s-on-Sea in Sussex and after a period of recruit training, he was posted to the 2nd Home Counties Field Company, R.E.,[7] a Territorial Force unit assigned to the 5th Division. Upon his enlistment, Barlow was assigned Regimental Number 964.[8]

The 2nd Home Counties Field Company was raised in Sussex, with most of its men coming from that area. Enlistments for the company took place primarily in St. Leonards-on-Sea, Hastings, Eastbourne, and Bexhill-on-Sea.

Barlow deployed to France with his unit on the 22nd of December 1914. The other field companies of the Royal Engineers serving with the 5th Division were the 17th and 59th Field Companies, both Regular Army units. The Commander Royal Engineers (CRE) of the 5th Division when it deployed to France was Lieutenant Colonel J.A. Tulloch, R.E.

The 2nd Home Counties Field Company, R.E. took part in the following battles between the unit’s arrival at the front and Barlow’s death:[9]

Hill 60: 17th to 22nd of April 1915

Ypres 22nd of April to 25th of May 1915

Gravenstafel 22nd to 23rd of April 1915

St. Julien 24th of April to 4th of May 1915

Frezenberg 8th to 13th of May 1915

Bellewarde 24th to 25th May 1915

Charles Ernest Barlow died of wounds in the vicinity of Ypres on the 30th of June 1915, prior to the battle at Delville Wood. By the time of his death, Barlow had been appointed to the rank of Acting 2nd Corporal. He was buried at Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Grave I.D.73.[10]

A total of 16 men of the 2nd Home Counties Field Company, including 2nd Corporal Barlow, died in France and Flanders between the 14th of December 1914 and the 30th of June 1915. These men are listed in the table below in chronological order based on their date of death.[11]




of Death

of Death

Blackman, Thomas



5 Mar 1915


Dray, Alfred



6 Mar 1915


Beney, A.



20 Apr 1915


Duckworth, John



20 Apr 1915


Henshaw, William Frederick



20 Apr 1915


Morris, George



20 Apr 1915


Prescott, George Crooke



20 Apr 1915


Vincett, G.J.H.



20 Apr 1915


Young, Alfred William



23 Apr 1915


Britt, Ward



26 Apr 1915


Hollobone, Frederick



26 Apr 1915


Morley, William



6 May 1915


Harvey, H.W.



2 Jun 1915


Dennett, Charles Ronald



10 Jun 1915


Jackson, Alfred



22 Jun 1915


Barlow, Charles Ernest


A/2nd Corporal)

30 Jun 1915



  1. KIA indicates "Killed in Action", DOW indicates "Died of Wounds" and Died indicates that the man died of disease or was killed accidentally.
  2. All the Regimental Numbers of the men are below 2000. This indicates that they were still identified by their Territorial Force numbers at the time of their death and were probably all members of the original company that was deployed to France in December of 1914.

Analyses of the casualties shown in the table above are presented below by rank, by cause of death and by month of death.

By Rank

By Cause of Death

By Month

Sergeants: 1 (6.25%) Killed in Action: 8 (50.0%) March 1915: 2 (12.50%)
Corporals: 4 (25.0%) Died of Wounds: 7 (43.75%) April 1915: 9 (56.25%)
2nd Corporals: 1 (6.25%) Died: 1 (6.25%) May 1915: 1 (6.25%)
Sappers: 10 (62.5%)   June 1915: 4 (25.0%)

As expected, Sappers account for the majority of casualties during the period followed next by Corporals. The numbers of men who died of wounds or who were killed in action outright are approximately equal. When compared with the battles in which the company fought, as indicated above, 10 of the 16 fatalities, or 62.5 percent occurred during these actions. Two (12.5%) of the fatalities occurred in March, prior to the Battle of Hill 60 and four (25%) of the fatalities, including Barlow, occurred during June of 1915 after the Battle of Bellewarde.

For his service in the Great War, 2nd Corporal Barlow was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. Only the 1914-15 Star is in the author's collection. The whereabouts of the other two medals is not known.



1. DE RUVIGNY, Marquis. The Roll of Honour. Volume 1. The Standard Art Book Company, Limited, London.

2. DOYLE, A.C. The British Campaign in France and Flanders, 1914. Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1926, pp. 36 and 42.

3. DOYLE, A.C. The British Campaign in France and Flanders, 1916. Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1928, p. 293.

4. HUSSEY, A.H. and INMAN, D.S. The Fifth Division in the Great War. Nisbet & Co., Ltd., London, 1921.


Battle Honours of the Royal Engineers. The Royal Engineers Journal, Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1925-1932.

Computer Software

1. 1881 British Census. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Salt Lake City, 1999 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

2. Soldiers Died in the Great War. The Naval & Military Press Ltd., Heathfield, East Sussex, 1998.

Internet Web Sites

1. Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Internet Web Site.

2. 1901 British Census. Public Record Office, London. PRO Reference RG13, Piece 100, Folio 91, Page 19, Schedule Number 156.


[1] Great Chapel Street is located off Oxford Street approximately two blocks west of Charing Cross Road.

[2] 1881 British Census, FHL Film 1341029, PRO Ref. RG11, Piece 0129, Folio 38, Page 7.

[3] 1881 British Census, FHL Film 1341028, PRO Ref. RG11, Piece 0126, Folio 83, Page 42.

[4] DE RUVIGNY, p. 20.

[5] CWGC.

[6] DE RUVIGNY, p. 20.

[7] The full title of Barlow's company was the 1/2nd (Home Counties) Field Company, Royal Engineers (Territorial Force).

[8] Soldiers Died in the Great War.

[9] Battle Honours of the Royal Engineers.

[10] Bailleul is a large town in France, near the Belgian border, 14.5 kilometers southwest of Ypres. It is located on the main road from St. Omer to Lille. The Communal Cemetery is on the eastern outskirts of the town.

[11] Soldiers Died in the Great War.