Coleshill Remembers Private Charles Peter Nevill

Coleshill Chronicle reports 27th November and 11th December 1915

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

Coleshill Chronicle 27th November, 1915

The sad news was received in Coleshill last Friday, November 19th, of the death at the front of Charles Peter Neville, of the R.A.M.C. The news came in a letter from Father Hawarden, one of the Catholic chaplains at the front. Father Hawarden wrote to the late soldier’s wife as follows:-

November 16th, 1915. Dear Mrs Neville, – I am very sorry to write that your husband was fatally wounded by a shell yesterday. He died soon after being hit. I said Mass for him this morning, and we buried him with all military honours in the little cemetery close to the Catholic church in the village where he was billeted. It will console you to know that he was at Mass and Holy Communion just a few days ago. He was well prepared for death, and died a hero. All the officers and men of the ambulance send you their heartfelt sympathy. May God comfort you in your sorrow, and help you to bear your heavy grief. – Sincerely yours, F HAWARDEN, C.F. 22nd Field Ambulance, B.E.F.

Particulars of his death

Some particulars of his death are given in a letter from Private J. W. Balshaw, R.A.M.C., a personal friend of the late Private Neville.

Private Balshaw says in his letter:- “Before he met with his accident I had just come from the trenches, and was going down to the drying-room where he was billeted to dry my clothes, as I was wet through up to the thighs with water and clay. On my way to his billet I saw him coming down the road. We were together when the shell burst. I ran into the ditch on the side of the road, and he ran into a house on the opposite side. The shell struck the house. He did not suffer much. He was at rest when we reached him. There were about 90, including officers, N.C.O.s, and men, present at the funeral, and we put him to rest with full military honours. When we come down the line I am going to repair his grave, and I will see if I can get a photo of it and send to you.”

He enlisted from Coleshill in the R.A.M.C. on January 11th, 1915, and was stationed at Llandrindod Wells till May 5th, when he was sent with his company to France. He served in France from that date until the day of his death. He was the fifth son of Mr and Mrs Neville, of Coleshill, and was married on August 11th, 1913. Widespread sympathy is felt for his parents, and widow and child, in their sad loss. A Requiem Mass was said for him at the Catholic Church, Coleshill, on Monday morning.

Coleshill Chronicle 11th December 1915

Death of Private C.P. Neville

The widow of Private Charles Peter Neville, R.A.M.C., who was killed on November 15th, has received a letter from the captain in command, giving further details as to the manner in which her husband met his death. The letter says:

27th November, 1915 Dear Mrs Neville, – Private Bateman showed me the letter you sent him, and I should like to be allowed also to offer you my sincerest sympathy in your loss. Your husband has been in my section, and under my command, ever since he joined the ambulance in May, and during that time I have been in daily, often hourly, touch with him, and having many opportunities of seeing him under all conditions, came to value him at his true worth. He was a fine fellow in every way, fearless and steady in danger, and yet a splendid worker, and a gentle and capable nurse, and one whom one could trust anywhere. When at rest in reserve, or when living in the trenches, he was always cheery, gentle, and un-complaining, and as the result was universally liked and respected both by officers and men. He was returning to the advance dressing station after doing a morning’s work in the drying room with two of his comrades, when he was caught by the shell which killed him. Apparently they were walking along the road when they heard the shell coming. The other two ran and lay down on the left side of the road, while your husband crouched down just inside the door of a house on the right side. The shell hit the roof of the house and it passed right through; several large fragments hit him in the back and killed him instantaneously. I was there within a few minutes, but there was nothing to be done, and his injuries were such that there is no possibility of his having suffered at all. I know that it is impossible for me to realise what it means to you, but I know that I have lost a good friend, and should like again to assure you of the sympathy of the whole ambulance.

Yours sincerely, JAMES R.C. GREENVERS, Capt. R.A.M.C.

A background to his life, and excerpts from the unit war diary 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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