29TH APRIL 1918 AGE 21


Charles Desort was born Karl Dezort to a Bohemian father and a Dutch mother. His parents married in London in 1899 but at the time of the 1911 census Karl Dezort Senior was still an Austrian citizen, neither parent had taken out British citizenship, nor had they Anglicized their names. Yet Karl joined the army as Charles Desort and his father signed for his son's inscription as C Desort Esq.
The word 'Nezdar' means misfortune in Czech, although it's probably a word that doesn't translate properly into English as it has cultural resonances which we can't pick up. However, it's possible that what C. Desort Esq wrote was the word 'Nazdar'. It's a Czech word, a toast, meaning "to success", which had become associated with the Bohemian independence movement. Bohemians/Czechs were Austrian citizens but many would have preferred not to fight with Austria but against it in order to achieve their freedom. The Nazdar Company, whose battle cry was 'Nazdar', was a unit of the French army made up of Czech citizens, and the Nazdar Cemetery near Arras is where many Czech soldiers who died for France are buried.
Rifleman Desort's inscription comes with quotation marks round the word Nezdor, which makes me think it's a misspelling of the battle cry rather than the word for misfortune.
Desort served with the 13th Battalion Rifle Brigade and died of wounds at No. 3 Casualty Clearing Station, based in the Citadel at Doullens.