Charles Mead (1875-1916)
Gardener, Central Parks
Charles Mead was born in Kensington, London in 1875 to Charles, a gardener, and Harriet Mead. In 1891, aged 16, Charles’s profession was given as a gardener and he was living with his mother, father, two sisters and one brother at 2 Virginia Place, Kensington. In 1900 Charles married Ada Mayhew at St Clement, Notting Hill and in 1911 they were living at 9 Virginia Place, Kensington with four sons and one daughter. By this time, Charles was employed by the Office of Works as a gardener in Kensington Gardens. Charles and Ada went on to have two more children before he went to war.
On the morning of 3 September 1916, Charles was serving with 8th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment awaiting the attack on High Wood, which formed part of the Battles of the Somme that started on 1 July. Since early August, the 178th Tunnelling Company had worked to dig down 25 feet, and then construct a gallery 310 feet long below the enemy positions. They placed 3000 lbs of ammonal explosive below the enemy machine-gun position, and 30 seconds before the infantry attack the mine was blown. The advance of the British troops along the line was only partially successful with some of the objectives set in the battle plan not being achieved due to the high casualty rate in the ranks. At 1.30 pm the enemy counter-attacked in force and drove the British forces back to their original starting lines. During the day losses were heavy with the battalion losing seven officers and 100 ordinary ranks as casualties. Private 18500 Charles Mead was one of these casualties.
He is remembered at Thistle Dump Cemetery, High Wood, Longueval, France in grave reference Special Memorial 4.