1911 Census (Oakley, ref 022)
Name Charles Wheeler
Address: Bicester Road, Oakley
Occupation Apprentice Boot Making / Student part-time
Other people on census
Father (Head): Charles Wheeler (37, Married, Bootmaker, born 1874, Brill, Bucks)
Mother: Caroline Emily Wheeler (39, Married for 15 years, 5 children all alive; born 1872, Oakley, Bucks)
Brothers: Richard George Wheeler (10, Scholar, born 1901, Brill, Bucks)
Arthur George Wheeler (6, born 1906, Oakley, Bucks)
Sisters: Constance Emily Wheeler (14, born 1897, Brill, Bucks)
Hilda Kate Wheeler (8, born 1903 Oakley, Bucks)
1901 Census (Brill, ref 053)
Name Charles Wheeler
Address: In the Village, Oakley
Other people on census
Father (Head): Charles Wheeler (29, Married, Bootmaker, born 1872, Brill, Bucks)
Mother: Caroline E Wheeler (29, Married, born 1872, Brill, Bucks)
Brothers: Richard George Wheeler (10 months, born 1900, Brill, Bucks)
Sisters: Constance Emily Wheeler (4, born 1897, Brill, Bucks)
Charlie Wheeler’s War (from his 140 letters he wrote home)
He was called up to join the Army on his 18th birthday, the 1st of December 1916. He would only celebrate one more birthday before his death. He was not un-educated, his letters are well written, and his spelling is good, despite finishing his schooling at the age of 12.
It must have been quite daunting for him to leave this small tranquil village; to be sent to a foreign country; to be sent into the horrors of the trenches of the Western Front. The trenches in winter were more like muddy ditches, the men would be wet, freezing cold, hungry, scared and many would be in ill-health. They would be terrified of shells falling into the confines of the trenches, which had devastating effects, killing and mutilating men. The trenches were infested with rats as large as cats, flies and insects and the soldiers dirty clothing would be riddled with lice. Not wanting to worry his family, Charles’ 140 letters never mention the conditions of the Front Line.
In his letters, he comes across as a most respectful loving, son and brother. He had a sense of duty to his country. In a letter dated 21st October 1917 he writes “I am not altogether a soldier yet and never will be for this child was not cut out for it. Although as you know, I will do my duty for as long as I am one, but give me a farmer’s life and this is my job, if ever I come out of this with flying colours”
He also thinks much of Oakley; in another letter, he writes “I had a letter from H.W. (Harold Wilkins?) my best pal of all and in it he says that poor Bert Kirby is killed and that T. Claridge has died of wounds. Very sad news for the Oakley Folks, and I can assure you dears that I sympathise with their bereavement very much. This is a terrible war it wouldn’t matter so much if there weren’t so many poor fellows going west all the while, both of the Allies and the enemy”. Bert Kirby died 16th August at Ypres and Richard T. Claridge a week later at St Omer, France. Both are commemorated on Oakley’s memorial.
Charles makes a reference to another Oakley man, Edward Brooks. He writes “I think it a great honour for Oakley having a VC in so small a village. I feel quite proud of him, hope there will be some more of the old village’s lads yet to win one”
Charles had a great belief in God and this helped him through this appalling time in the Front Line. He would have worshipped in this church on many occasions and he makes many references in his letters to his faith in God. In July 1917 as the battle of Passchendaele started, he tells his parents “You have no need to worry on my behalf for I wasn’t in that last bit of trouble, and even if I had been I feel sure God would guide and protect me, dear. For, as the Bible says, we are ever in His Hands”
On Christmas Day 1917, he writes “Very pleased to say I was able to make my Christmas Communion, just the same as if I’d been at home”. In another letter referring to the body shields his mother had asked him to wear “there is no better shield than the one that never fails and that is God. He is our never-failing helper and defender and in whom we can put our trust”.
Charles was captured on the first day of the Second Battle of the Somme, on 21st Mar 1918; he never got to a POW camp, but remained employed in forced labour close to the battle area behind German lines. On 9th July 1918, he died. Officially he died of pneumonia, although fellow prisoners would write later and say it was due to bad treatment and malnutrition. After his death, one wrote to his mother “another English prisoner and myself had a word of prayer with him just before he passed away and he seemed greatly comforted, and in a few spoken sentences he prayed himself. From what little I saw of him he was greatly attached to you. I am enclosing his testament to you, which he kept till the end”
Private Charles WHEELER
Known as Charles (Charlie) Wheeler
Baptised: 1st December 1899, Brill Bucks
Born: 1st December 1898, Brill Bucks
Pre-War Occupation Apprentice boot/shoe maker
Prisoner of War Captured 21st March 1918
Died: 9th July 1918, officially Kriegsgefangenenlager Parchim (P.O.W. Camp Parchim)
Cause of Death Officially Pneumonia, unofficially bad treatment and malnutrition
Age at death 19
Buried Le Quesnoy, Nord, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France
Father: Charles Wheeler (born 18th November 1871, Brill, Bucks; baptised 11 February 1872, Oakley Church; married 14th April 1895, Oakley Church; occupation shoemaker / bootmaker; died December 1938, age 67; died 27th December 1938, School Lane, Oakley, Bucks; buried 30th December 1938, Oakley Church)
Mother: Caroline Emily Wheeler nee Measey (born 31st January 1872, Oakley, Bucks; baptised 4th August 1872, Oakley Church; married 14th April 1895, Oakley Church; died 27th October 1950, age 78, Oakley, Bucks; buried 30th October 1950, Oakley Church)
Brothers (2) Richard George Wheeler (born 1900, Brill, Bucks; baptised, 6th May 1900, Brill, Bucks; married to Lily Adelaide Jennings on 31st July 1926 in Charlton-on-Otmoor; occupation builder and labourer; died October 1970, age 70, Brill Road, Oakley; cremated 15th October 1970, Headington crematorium)
Arthur Robert Wheeler (born 11 November 1904, Oakley, Bucks; baptised 12th February 1905, Oakley, Bucks; married 10 November 1934 to Mabel Kate Hawes in Oakley Church; occupation farmer; died 19th February 1981, Oakley, Bucks; buried February 1981, Oakley Church)
Sisters (2) Constantine (Connie) Wheeler (born 1897, Brill, Bucks; died 9th March 1919, Oakley, Bucks; buried 12th March 1919, Oakley Church)
Hilda Kate Wheeler (later Mole) (born 15th June 1902, Oakley Bucks; baptised 24th August 1902, Oakley Church; married 12 June 1923 to Frank Mole in Oakley Church; died 31st January 1957, Ludgershall, Bucks, age 55; buried January 1957, Ludgershall, Bucks)
Paternal Grandfather: Richard Wheeler (born January 1840, Brill, Bucks; baptised 28th January 1840, Brill, Bucks; married 21 September 1869, Beckley, Oxfordshire; occupation shoemaker / boot maker; died February 1912; age 72, buried 19th February 1912)
Paternal Grandmother: Emma Wheeler nee Field (born 1830, Beckley, Oxon, location; baptised 10th April 1830, Beckley, Oxfordshire; married 21 September 1869, Beckley, Oxfordshire; died 1890, age 60, buried 7th November 1890)
Maternal Grandfather: George Henry Measey (born 1845, Oakley, Bucks; baptised 9th October 1845, Oakley Church; married 16th May 1869, Oakley Church; occupation Farmer; died March 1930, Stone Hospital; buried 13 March 1930, Oakley Church)
Maternal Grandmother: Elizabeth Measey nee Peesley (born 29th December 1845, Horton-cum-Studley; married 16th May 1869, Oakley Church; died November 1926, Little London, Bucks; buried 15th November 1926, Oakley Church)
Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919
First Names: Charles
Birth town: Brill, Buckinghamshire
Resided Town Oakley, Bucks
Date of Birth March 1898
Date of death: 9th July 1918
Service Number: 13810
Duty Location France and Flanders
Service British Army
Regiment Machine Gun Corps
Battalion 6th Battalion
Relatives notified Parents: Charles and Emily Caroline Wheeler
of Oakley, Brill, Bucks.
Victory Medal MGC / 100 B 9 Page 892
British Medal MGC / 100 B 9 Page 892
Oakley War Memorial.
Memorial LE QUESNOY COMMUNAL CEMETERY
Grave Reference: I. A. 4.
Waddesdon Deanery Magazine
May 1918 Prisoner of War
June 1918 Prisoner of War
October 1918 Died as Prisoner of War
Regiment during World War 1
Machine Gun Corps (6th Battalion) – War Diary 17th March – 23rd March 1918
Charles Wheeler – Service number 13810
FAVREUIL 17th – The day passed quietly except for more shells round E battery. Weather fine. Casualties nil
17th March 1918 Still in line. No sign of going out of it, lovely weather like summer (Charles Wheeler letter)
FAVREUIL 18th – Owing to E battery having been shelled it was decided to move it. 2 guns were put into LAGNICOURT TRENCH at c.17 c 3.6. 2 guns were put into new trench at c,23 b9.8. Weather fine and warm. Casualties nil.
FAVREUIL 19th – Situation unchanged orders for relief by the 25th Divisions were received (Division O.O. No — received). Weather bad rained nearly all day. Casualties Nil.
FAVREUIL 20th – Another uneventful day 6th M.G. Battalion O.O No – issued. Weather wet morning, fine afternoon. Casualties. Nil.
FAVREUIL 21st – 2 a.m. A message was received from the Division that the enemy were expected to attack at dawn. This was sent round to all our guns.
5 a.m. The enemy attack commenced with very heavy artillery bombardment with gas and other shells.
9 a.m. At about 9 a.m. the enemy attacked in mass and during the morning captured the whole of the front-line LAGNICOURT, NOREUIL, LAGINCOURT TRENCH and second line except on the 18th Brigade, which held on to the second line with its flanks in the air until 7 p.m.
9:30 a.m. Capt Moore M.C. badly wounded by a shell about 9:30 a.m.
2:00 p.m. By about 2 p.m. the enemy had captured the strong points from DUNELM AVENUE to the old advanced brigade H.Q. in the Nuuhgam Road, but were held up front of the MORCHIES-VAULX road.
6 p.m. Fearing that a large number of guns were lost 12 new ones were indented for 21/03/1918. The situation by 6 p.m. was apparently that our infantry was holding the MORCHIES-VAULX line with 9 of our guns in the line. The rest had been lost.
6:30 p.m. Received orders to send 1 gun to VAULX and 8 on to a line FREMICOURT-BEUNATRE-MORY. The C.O. immediately rode out and selected positions for these guns.
11 p.m. The 12 new guns arrive all available men were put on to fill belts and get guns ready
21st March 1918 Missing 3 section A company 6th M.G. Battalion (Charlie Wheeler in A company)
FAVREUIL 22nd 3 a.m. This was completed and the funs sent up to positions about 3 a.m. The morning was very fuggy which probably prevented the enemy renewing his attack as early as he intended.
8:30 a.m. Received orders to send 4 guns to the army line from the BEUNATRE-VRAUCOURT road to about 1,000 yards west of it. These guns were sent off about 9 a.m.
7:30 p.m. 12 gun teams of the 41st all G. Battalion arrived at Battalion H.Q. to relieve our 4 guns in the army line and 8 guns on to FREMICOURT BEUNATRE- MORY line. They had no guns of their own, so took over ours.
8:20 p.m. Relief of the above was complete by 8:20 p.m. and Battalion H Q teams and Transport marched independently to LOGEAST CAMP. As it was impossible to send orders to any surviving gun in front about the relief, battalions were ordered to bring out any of our guns that were with them. None however came back.
FAVREUIL 23rd The weather during the 2 days fighting was fine and warm, with a thick fog on the night 21st/22nd and morning of 22nd till about 9.a.m.
Casualties: – Officers: Killed 3, wounded 6; missing 5
Officers killed : Captain J.R MOORE M.C.; 2nd Lt J.W. NEWBERRY and 2nd Lt. R.J. LAND
Officers wounded: Captain R.A. LUMB; 2nd Lt E. AYRES; 2nd Lt H.S. COX; 2nd Lt A.A. DODD; 2nd Lt M. SPROATES; 2nd Lt G. FURGUSSON
Officers Missing: st. W.J. REDGRAVE; 2nd Lt C.D. VANSOMER (believed killed); 2nd Lt J.J. ANDERSON; 2nd Lt G.S. BALL (believed killed); 2nd Lt F.W. HOCKADAY
11 killed, 69 wounded 69 (and missing 7), missing 186 (believed killed 2, believed prisoners 5 and wounded 1)
Cemetery / Memorial
LE QUESNOY COMMUNAL CEMETERY
Identified Casualties: 63
Le Quesnoy is an old town in the Department of the Nord, 15 kilometres south-east of Valenciennes on the road to Le Cateau and Avesnes. The Extension adjoins that part of the Communal Cemetery where British graves are placed.
Le Quesnoy was captured by the New Zealand Division, without bombardment, on the 4th November, 1918; and a sculptured panel let into the town wall, linked with the Place D’Armes by a memorial avenue, recalls this exploit.
The Communal Cemetery was used and extended by the Germans during their long occupation of the town; but almost all the German graves have been removed to Frasnoy German Cemetery.
There are now over 60, 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site. All but two of whom were buried by the enemy.