ROLFE, Charles Edgar

473125, Private, Charles Edgar ROLFE
Aged 22

88th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
formerly 1933, 1st East Anglian Field Ambulance
Killed in Action on Wednesday, 2nd October 1918

Charles Edgar ROLFE was born at 36 Tayfen Road, Bury St.Edmunds on 6th September 1896 (Bury St Edmunds Q4-1896 4A:818), baptised in St John's , Bury St Edmunds on 5th November 1896, son of Charles Edgar and Elizabeth Caroline ROLFE (née CRISP).

1901 census...Aged 4, he was at 24 Sedgewick Street, Cambridge with his father Charles ROLFE [33] railway engine stoker; his mother Elizabeth [30]; brother Joseph [11] and sister Lily [8]. All were born in Bury St.Edmunds

1911 census...Aged 14, he was at 19 Avenue Approach, Bury St.Edmunds with his parents (father now G.E.Railway engine driver) and sister Lily.

From the "East Anglian Record" of December 1918 it appears that prior to enlisting he was employed at Ipswich Education Office. He was a stretcher bearer, had just written home in anticipation of home leave
On 13th November 1919 his father completed the Army "Living Relatives" form and recorded himself and wife at 15 Avenue Approach, Bury St Edmunds, J.W.Rolfe [30] at Shenley Church End, Bletchley and Lily F Coomber [27] at 64 Ronald Park Avenue, Westcliffe on Sea,

He enlisted in Ipswich on 4th August 1914, giving his age as 17 years 11 months, born Bury St.Edmunds. He was a clerk for the Ipswich Education Committee, living at 125 Ranleigh Road, Ipswich. 5 feet 6.5 inches (168.9 cm) tall, chest 31" to 34"(78.4 to 86.4cm) First placed as No 1933 in the 1st East Anglian Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps, he went to Gallipoli on 27th July 1915, returning to UK on 10th February 1916 and finally to France on 22nd September 1916.
In Gallipoli, on 2nd September 1915 he was admitted to 14 Casualty Clearing Station with dysentery and then sent to Malta on 11th, before evacuation per HMHS "Panama" and HMHS "Britainnic" to UK on 27th January 1916. This UK spell included a stay at Bury St.Edmunds Isolation Hospital
Re-numbered 473125 he went via Southampton-Le Havre to France on 22nd September, joining 88th Field Ambulance. He suffered illness in July 1917 , recorded as PUO which is Pyrexia of Unknown Origin(Army speak for don't know what it is). He managed to get UK leave 17 Nov. to 1 Dec. 1917 and on returning to France, he was admitted to a base hospital with synovitis of the knee on 4th January 1918. His return to duty is not recorded. He was granted his good conduct badge on 7th August and killed in action on 2nd October.

His belongings ( Coins, Photos, 2 photo case, 2 watches (1 broken, 1 with strap *?) 2 pairs scissors, various cards, fountain pen, 2 cap badges, shoulder title, souvenir coin, manicure set in case, charm, 2 religious charms, div.emblem, book and cigarette case.) were sent to his mother at 15 Avenue Approach, Bury St.Edmunds, except a gold ring which was to go to Miss Eveline W.Ridgeway, 183 St Albans Road, Watford. (which she receipted on 1st May 1919).

The war diary says he was killed by shellfire. They were in the region of CLAPHAM JUNCTION that day.

The Bury Free Press of 2nd November 1918 reported:-

We regret to record the death in action, in France, of Pte. Charles E.Rolfe, son of Mr. and Mrs. C.E. Rolfe,of 15 Avenue Approach, Bury St. Edmunds. The sad tidings were conveyed to the bereaved parents in a letter from the Commanding Officer, who writes:" Your son was killed on 2nd inst. whilst gallantly carrying out his duties as a stretcher bearer. he is a great loss to the unit, and a was a great favourite with both officers and men. He threw his heart and soul, not only into his work but into his play, and he will be sadly missed in the football field, in the sports and the concert troupe. We buried him, with four of his comrades, in a British cemetery well behind the lines.....The funeral was conducted by our padre and the whole unit was present. I assure you that you have the sympathy of the whole unit in your loss".
Pte. Rolfe, who was only 22 years of age, was educated at the Guildhall Feoffment Boys' and the East Anglian Schools, and is the twenty ninth old boy from the latter school to have fallen in the war. He was employed at the Shire Hall and later at the Educational Offices in Ipswich. He joined the R.A.M.C. on August 5th, 1914, and left England for Gallipoli the following July. Having contracted dysentery he was for several months in hospital at Malta, and was subsequently brought to Mile End Military Hospital, London. After recovering, and in April 1916, he was sent to Herts., and the following September went to France; he came home on leave last November. Pte. Rolf held the position of violinist as a member of "The Fragments" concert troupe, and represented the Second Army in ten kilometres' cross country race v Belgian Army, in Belgium on July 21st 1918. The deceased young soldier had a promising career before him, and his cheery and bright disposition ensured for him a host of friends wherever he went. His efficiency as a soldier is proved by his officer's letter, and heartfelt sympathy is extended to the bereaved parents in their loss.

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Charles Rolfe is buried in Brandhoek New Military Cemetery No.3, Belgium, grave 3:F:7
and commemorated on the Bury St Edmunds Roll of Honour

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details