Coleshill Remembers Private Charles Peter Nevill

Background, and the unit war diary

A "Now & Then" overlay photo of WW1 recruits leaving Coleshill in 1914.
Original photo courtesy of Coleshill & District Civic Society, image supplied by Coleshill Remembers

Below is what was read out at one of our vigils for one of our locals.

15th November 1915

Private Charles Peter Nevill, 22 Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps.

Private Nevill is remembered on the Parish War Memorial, Coleshill, and the memorial in St Teresa and the Sacred Heart, Coleshill.

Charles Peter Nevill, known as Peter, was born in Harlaston, Staffordshire, in 1887. He was the son of John Nevill, a wheelwright, and Emma. In 1891 Peter was living with his parents and three brothers at the Old Toll Gate House in Harlaston. By 1901 the family had moved to Back Lane, Coleshill, and were parishioners of St Teresa and the Sacred Heart. Peter and his older brother Felix were working at a Mineral Water Works.

1911 census

The 1911 census shows that the family were living on High Street, Coleshill. At this time Peter and Felix were working as platelayers for the Midland Railway Company. Peter married Florence Ellen Coleman on the 11th August 1913 at St John’s Church in Coleshill and in early 1914 their son Peter A Nevill was born. On the 11th January 1915 Charles Peter Nevill enlisted in the RAMC at Birmingham, service number 49010. He was initially stationed at Llandrindod Wells.

On 15th May 1915 he arrived in France and served with the 22nd Field Ambulance, forming part of the 7th Division. This was a mobile front line medical unit of the RAMC. These men did not carry weapons or ammunition.

The unit war diary of 22 Field Ambulance RAMC for the period Private Nevill was with them detail long periods of time manning Advanced Dressing Stations in the region between Ypres and Bethune in Northern France. It details large numbers of casualties and sick personnel treated by the ADS and then either returned to their units or passed back to casualty clearing stations.

An example of their workload

As an example of their workload, the diary details the period of one week from 25th September to 2nd October 1915 (during the start of the Allied Autumn Offensive). The 22 Field Ambulance treated 1,504 sick and wounded personnel including 19 Germans. Of these, only 51 were returned to duty. 1,434 were evacuated to clearing stations and 18 died. The theoretical capacity of a Field Ambulance was 150 casualties. During this period the 22 Field Ambulance was treating an average of 215 casualties a day.

The diary for the 15th & 16th November 1915 states the following:

15/11/1915 – Admitted to 9am – 17 OR Sick (Includes 2 Trench Foot) – 3 OR Wounded.
Evacuated – 8 OR Sick – 1 OR Wounded
To Duty – 10 OR Sick – 1 OR Wounded
Lt MacKenzie reported today for duty. Weather Very fine.
Pte Nevill of this ambulance was killed this afternoon at the ADS [Advanced Dressing Station] by a shell. Sent out orderlies for his body to be brought in here for burial………..

16/11/1915 – Went to ADS and inspected drying room. Arrangements made are excellent and the place is being used by a large number of troops. Trenches very wet and muddy. Attended with the whole ambulance the funeral of Pte Nevill. Weather fine.

Buried in France

Private Nevill was killed by a shell on the 15th November 1915 and is buried in Grave 9 of the Annezin Communal Cemetery in France. His wife Florence added the following inscription to his headstone: ‘ In loving memory from his wife and son.’ He was posthumously awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War and Allied Victory medals

He was 28 years old.

The Coleshill Chronicle reported his death, and the report can be read here.

The next vigil is on 23 April 2016 and will be remembering Corporal Cyril Coombs, Worcester Yeomanry.

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