LIEUTENANT FREDERICK CHARLESTON
7TH JULY 1915 AGE 25
BURIED: FERME-OLIVIER CEMETERY, ELVERDINGE, DENMARK
Robert Browning's (1812-1889) Epilogue to Asolando, his final poem, was published on the day he died. The famous verse from which this inscription comes is generally considered to be Browning's description of himself:
One who never turned his back but marched breast forward,
Never doubted clouds would break,
Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph,
Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
Sleep to wake.
The sentiments chimed with many families who chose various of the above lines for personal inscriptions, even changing the personal pronoun so as to be able to use them for a VAD.
Frederick Charleston's father, Thomas William Charleston, chose the inscription for his only son but gave no other family details to the War Graves Commission. However, in 2002, Dix Noonan Webb sold Frederick's medals and his memorial plaque in "mint perfect condition". Their research is always excellent and it is their website that describes how Charleston "died on July 7th 1915, at No. 12 Field Ambulance Dressing Station, of wounds received in action at Pilkem, near Ypres". Their information comes from The University College London Memorial Book, where Charleston had been an engineering student. The book describes how an officer with the Field Ambulance wrote to Charleston's father to tell him:
"Several of the men of his Company were wounded at the same time and brought in to us. I got the same tale from them all - of his gallantry and courage in the trenches. He was in charge of a machine-gun section, and stood to it until it was put out of action. The same shell that injured the men gave him his death wound."
Among the medals sold in 2002 was Charleston's 1914 Star. Out of the country when the war broke out, Charleston, who had been in the London University OTC, returned immediately and was gazetted Second Lieutenant in the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers. He disembarked in France on 24 October 1914, thus easily meeting the date criteria for this award, 5 August to 22 November 1914.
Charleston had two sisters, Susan Ellen and Irene Lavinia. In May 1960, forty-five years after her brother's death, Irene presented Guildford Cathedral with an exquisitely embroidered banner featuring a descending dove, two angels, one with a harp and one with a trumpet, and the badge of the Lancashire Fusiliers. The banner is Irene's work, which she dedicated:
AMDG in memory
of F Charleston
Ypres 7 July 1915.