3 May 2010

DANKS Charles


Corporal G/1756, 6th Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)
Killed in Action Friday 10th March 1916
Commemorated: Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, Panel 15 to 19

Charles Danks was born in south-east London in 1880, the son of Charles and Annie Danks. Charles senior started out as a journalist, but did well, and by 1901 was a newspaper proprietor with a large house in Rottingdean, Sussex, where the family lived for sixteen years before coming to Lancing in about 1908. Charles junior's connection with Lancing is less clear - he certainly appears on the war memorial, but probably only because of his family connections and the social standing of his father in the village. The family were wealthy, and at the time of the 1901 census Charles junior and his sister Maud were living in a property owned by their father at 118 Ashley Gardens, Westminster, which must have provided them with a comfortable foothold 'in town.' Charles' occupation is given as 'Journalist/Author' while his sister is rather glamourously described as 'Actress and Vocalist.'

Charles Danks enlisted into the 6th (Service) Battalion, The Buffs, while living in Battersea. His army service record has not survived, but information regarding his service number from Paul Nixon in the first comment below, suggests enlistment during the first fortnight of September 1914. He did not go overseas for some time, and his medal index card gives his date of entry into France as 24th September 1915. He must have been an intelligent, responsible soldier to reach the rank of Corporal by March 1916 when the battalion were in trenches west of Hulloc, between B├ęthune and Lens. The war diary held at The National Archives [WO95/1860] describes the events of the 10th March 1916:

10 March 1916
TRENCHES - Relieved the 6th Royal West Kents in same trenches. Relief started at 8.30 a.m. and completed by 1 p.m. 'D' and 'B' Companies in KAISERIN TRENCH. 'A' Company in CRATERS No. 1 and 2 and 'C' Company in CRATER A, with 'A' Company of the 6th West Kents continued on the right of 'D' Company, and 'C' Company 6th Queens on the extreme right of all. At about 2 p.m. one of the enemy appeared from the TRIANGLE CRATER, apparently intending to come into our lines. He was fired at, but put up his hands and came on, then suddenly he evidently changed his mind and dropped back into the trench. Reports vary concerning this incident - some witnesses state that he shouted 'All right Buffs' when fired on! Night fairly quiet except for bombing in Nos. 1 and 2 CRATERS and our own rifle grenade and trench mortar fire. Brigade on right exploded 3 mines at about 9.30 p.m. and shortly after a big red glow was visible in the direction of HULLOCH.

There is little in this report to identify any particular event that could have caused the death of Charles Danks on the 10th; he was one of only two men in his battalion to die that day, but like so many others, he was probably the victim of shell fire or a sniper's bullet. There are no local newspaper reports of his death, and he has no known grave - he is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, Dud Corner.

Dud Corner Cemetery, with the Loos Memorial on the surrounding walls


Paul Nixon said...

Sue, G/1756 looks to date to the first or second week of September 1914.

Sue Light said...

Living in Westminster he was probably one of those men clamouring at the doors of the recruiting centres in the first few days.