3894, Private, Charles MASON
Aged 41

1st Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
Died of his Wounds on Friday 2nd April 1915

An Old Contemptible

Born in Woodditton (possibly Q2-1873 [Newmarket 3b:549]), baptised on 9th November 1873 in Woodditton, son of John and Matilda MASON (née SURRAGE) of 1 Ditton Cottages, Newmarket.

1881 census...Charles [8] was at 1 Ditton Cottages with his father John [36], a farm labourer born Saxon Street; his mother Matilda [40] born Saxon Street, and sisters Kate [14] born Saxon Street, Edith [[7]; Elizabeth [5] and Matilda [2 months] all born in Woodditton, plus his brothers William [12] born Saxon Street, and Harry [2] born Woodditton.

1891 census...Charles [17] a heath labourer, was at Toll House, Bury Road, Newmarket with his parents, brother William (bricklayers labourer) and sisters Elizabeth, Matilda and Ada [5]. From Charles onwards, the children are now recorded as Newmarket born.

1901 census...Charles is not positively identified in the 1901 census, he very well may have been in the Army in South Africa. His parents and sister Ada had moved to Rushford, and then Shadwell,near Thetford.

1911 census...Charles [36], single, was in 1st Battalion Suffolk Regiment at Mustapha Pasha Barracks, Alexandria, Egypt. His parents had returned to Newmarket, to 7 Jubilee Cottages, Park Lane.

The 1st Battalion were not in any particular action at that time, being in the line near Lindenhoek ( between Kemmel and Ypres) before returning to hutments at Dranoutre.

Newmarket Journal reported on 17th April 1915 :-
"We regret to learn that Private Charles Mason, of D Coy.,1st Suffolk Regt., was fatally wounded on April 1st in action, and died the following day. Pte Mason was a Newmarket man, and was only 41 years of age. he was wounded in the battle of Mons and was invalided home, visiting Newmarket in October on being discharged from hospital at Clacton. In January, having quite recovered, he was sent again to the front, and took part in the severe fighting which occurred at the beginning of April.Pte. Mason would have completed his 21 years service in the Army this month. An excellent soldier, he was greatly respected and liked by his comrades and will be mourned by many friends in Newmarket and district. His father and mother, both over 70 years of age, have the sympathy of all who knew him, in the loss of a gallant son, who has given his life for his country.
Appended is an extract from the official letter in which the sad news was conveyed to the parents:-"On April 1st, while his Company were returning to the trenches he was hit in the abdomen. They think it was a sniper who fired the shot. He was placed ion a stretcher and carried back to the dressing station, where he died about 10 o'clock on Good Friday morning. He was buried the same night outside the Battalion headquarters. A clergyman was present, and conducted the funeral service. A wooden cross bearing the name, number rank, name of regiment and date of his death was erected over the grave and palings were placed around it to prevent the grave being trodden on. He was one of the most popular and respected soldiers of his Regiment and greatly liked by the officers of his Company."

photo: Rodney Gibson

Charles is buried in Lindenhoek Chalet Military Cemetery, Belgium- Ref:I.A.11

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