1885 - 1916
CPL David Wallace Crawford
1887 - 1916
Lce-Corpl John Joseph Nickle
1894 - 1916
Pte 17911 Morton Neill
1897 - 1916
Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft
1883 - 1918
Pte 22598 Charles Howard Ainsworth
- Age: 29
- From: Liverpool
- Regiment: The King's (Liverpool Regiment) 20th Btn
- K.I.A Sunday 30th July 1916
- Commemorated at: Thiepval Memorial
Panel Ref: P&F1D8B &8 C.
Charles Howard Ainsworth was born in Bootle on 19th November 1886 the son of Thomas William and Ellen (nee Howard) Ainsworth. He was baptised on 14th December 1886 at St Peter's Church, Liverpool. The baptismal records show that the family were living on Scotland Road, Liverpool and his father was an Iron Monger.
The 1891 Census shows the family living at Elm Street, Bootle. Charles is 4 years of age and is living with his parents and 5 siblings. His father is shown as having being born in Manchester in 1851 and is an iron monger's assistant, whilst his mother is shown as born in Liverpool in 1850. All siblings are shown as born in Liverpool and are listed as; Elizabeth aged 14, Ethel aged 11, Mabel aged 9, Arthur 7 and Louise 2. Also present is Elizabeth Ainsworth described as being 70 years of age and stated as mother in law and living on her own means.
By 1901 the family have moved to 11 Ludwig Road, Walton. Both parents are in the household. Charles is now 14 and lives with his 4 siblings who remain in the household. They are listed as Ethel 21, Mabel 18, William 17 and Louise 12.
Charles was admitted to Longmoor Lane Council School in 1901.
The 1911 Census shows Charles living with his widowed father at 53 Barnes Street, Everton. Charles is now 24 years of age and described as a House Painter.
Prior to enlisting he worked as a Butcher in Prescot.
He enlisted in Liverpool and joined the Kings (Liverpool Regiment) in November 1914, serving in the 20th (4th city) Battalion as Private 22598.
Formed in November 1914 the 20th Battalion were originally billeted at Tournament Hall, Knotty Ash before on 29th January 1915 they moved to the hutted accommodation purposely built at Lord Derby’s estate at Knowsley Hall. On 30th April 1915 the 20th Battalion alongside the other three Pals battalions left Liverpool via Prescot Station for further training at Belton Park, Grantham. They remained here until September 1915 when they reached Larkhill Camp on Salisbury Plain. He arrived in France on 7th November 1915.
Charles married Elizabeth McKnight on the 28th August 1915 at St John the Evangelist Church. The marriage certificate lists Charles as 28 years of age and a soldier with the rank of Private, whilst Elizabeth is shown as a 30 year old domestic servant.
The battalion landed in France on 7th and 8th November 1915, Charles Ainsworth being with them at this time. After spending the first night in camp at Boulogne, they entrained and moved south to the Pont Remy area. On the 17th, they undertook a two day march to Flesselles and on the night of the 18th, they billeted at Vaux.
Several days training followed then on the 28th the battalion once again moved, this time to Bernaville. However, the following day the battalion was on the march again, this time to Halloy, having received orders to be attached to the 37th Division for digging purposes.
There they remained until 17th December, when they marched to Berles-au-Bois, where they began trench training in earnest until Christmas Day, when they came out of the trenches and began to move back to their own brigade. They reached Halloy the same night and then the following morning left at 9 a.m. for Bernaville. The battalion suffered its first casualties around this time, having two men wounded in the trenches.
New Year's Day 1916 found the battalion out of the front line, being in billets at Bernaville. On the morning of the 2nd, the battalion marched to Naours for attachment to the 90th Brigade, then on the 3rd they marched to Pont Noyelles, on the 4th to Sailly and on the 5th to Suzanne.
The battalion remained in the trenches in this sector until the end of March, with a visit in the trenches by Lord Derby at the beginning of March. Throughout this period, they suffered a low but steady stream of casualties due to the usual attrition.
By the end of June 1916 they were lined up in readiness for the forthcoming Somme offensive. The Battalion were part of the attack on Montauban on 1st July.
By 30th, they were at Guillemont, launching a new attack at 4:45 am that day. Thick fog, resulting in visibility being reduced to 10 yards in some places, caused great difficulty but the attack progressed. By late morning, the enemy had launched a machine gun attack causing some 30 casualties. All runners sent to Battalion HQ were either killed or missing but ultimately, the remnants of the attack occupied the objective, MALTZ HORN RIDGE, by the end of the day.
The Battalion war diary reported 66 killed, 183 wounded and 124 missing. The final toll later turned out to be 155 men killed.
Included in that number of missing men was Charles Ainsworth. The fortunes of war denied him a marked grave and he is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial to the Missing of the Somme.
30th July 1916
The 20th King’s Battalion Diary records:
“At 4.45am prompt the attack was launched. Unfortunately, a thick mist prevailed and it was impossible to see more than 10 yards ahead. This continued until about 6 o’clock when it lifted slightly, but it was still too hazy and impossible to see what was happening 100 yards ahead. This being so, it was not surprising to find that the attacking waves were experiencing great difficulty in maintaining connection.”
At 6am, Lt. RE Melly, No.1 Company, reported that his men had taken the German Maltz Horn trench.
At 6.30am, 2/Lt. CP Moore reported that he had 150 men, 4 Stokes Mortars and 2 Lewis Guns, but he was the only officer. He also said that due to the fog, both his “flanks were in the air” i.e. he was not in contact with neighbouring troops.
At 9.10am, Moore was still not in contact at his flanks, and now he had only 75 men, he had sent out 2 patrols and neither not returned. Later Moore established communication with the French on his right.
Around 10.00am, 2/Lt Musker reported that he had just over a company with him, but his left flank was suffering from German machine gun fire. Later he reported that he had over 30 casualties from the machine gun fire. His flanks were also “in the air”. No contact was made with this party until the remnants returned around 9.30pm, all runners sent were killed or missing. The War Diary states that this group had: ”held the ground won all day, and this permitted the consolidation of the ground won on the Maltz Horn ridge with little interference from the enemy”.
Relief for 20/Kings had been planned for 11.00pm, but it was 5.00am on the 31st July before it took place, ending a tragic day for the Liverpool Pals.
Casualties for 20th Battalion were 16 Officers and 357 Other Ranks
When darkness fell on the battlefield the 30th Division held a line from the railway on the eastern side of Trones Wood , southwards and including Arrow Head Copse, to east of Maltz Horn Farm. On this line the division was relieved by the 55th Division during the early hours of the 31st July.
The events of 30th July 1916 were regarded at the time as Liverpool’s blackest day. There follows an extract from The History of the 89th Brigade written by Brigadier General Ferdinand Stanley which gives an indication of the events of the day.
Well the hour to advance came, and of all bad luck in the world it was a thick fog; so thick that you couldn’t see more than about ten yards. It was next to impossible to delay the attack – it was much too big an operation- so forward they had to go. It will give some idea when I say that on one flank we had to go 1,750 yards over big rolling country. Everyone knows what it is like to cross enclosed country which you know really well in a fog and how easy it is to lose your way. Therefore, imagine these rolling hills, with no landmarks and absolutely unknown to anyone. Is it surprising that people lost their way and lost touch with those next to them? As a matter of fact, it was wonderful the way in which many men found their way right to the place we wanted to get to. But as a connected attack it was impossible.
The fog was intense it was practically impossible to keep direction and parties got split up. Owing to the heavy shelling all the Bosches had left their main trenches and were lying out in the open with snipers and machine guns in shell holes, so of course our fellows were the most easy prey.
It is so awfully sad now going about and finding so many splendid fellows gone.