Corporal Charles Barnes


Charles Barnes was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, in April 1879, one of at least seven children of agricultural labourer Frederick Barnes and his wife Mary Jane.

On 14 March 1898 at Blandford, Dorset, he enlisted in the Dorsetshire Regiment (No.5703). He served with the regiment at Malta from November 1898 to February 1899, in South Africa during the Boer War from November 1899 to April 1902, then in India until he returned home on 21 April 1911.

On 1 July 1913 he was discharged. He gave his address at the time as 34 Smith Street, Belfast. Less than three weeks later he married Mary McCourt at St Luke's Church of Ireland Parish Church, Belfast. The couple had three children over the next eight years, living at 34 Sixth Street, Charles working as a labourer at the Albert Foundry.

Barnes enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Belfast on 7 September 1914 (No.1134 – later Corps of Hussars No.71244). On 9 February 1915 he embarked for France, where he was posted to A Squadron.

At the time A Squadron was serving as escort to the BEF's Commander-in-Chief at St Omer. On 4 January 1916 it was posted as divisional cavalry to the 55th Division, then in May that year it joined with D and E Squadrons to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, then V Corps until February-March 1918, when the regiment was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps until the end of the war.

Barnes remained with A Squadron through much of this time.

On 21 November 1917 he was deprived of a week's pay for drunkenness.

In March 1918, as the regiment was being converted to a cyclist unit, Barnes was admitted to No.6 Field Ambulance suffering with synovitis in his right knee. (He later stated that he had suffered a fall from a horse and had been treated at the 29th Field Ambulance and the 2nd Australian Hospital at Abbeville.) Four weeks later he was assessed by a medical board at the Cyclist Base Depot and was classified as B2.

Barnes was posted to a transport unit, serving in that capacity until the end of the war. On 14 June 1918 he was deprived of three days' pay for being absent from camp. He was promoted to acting corporal on 19 April 1919.

He returned to the UK on 2 June 1920 and was discharged on 1 July.

Following his discharge Barnes returned to his family at 34 Sixth Street, Belfast. He died there on 31 August 1958 and was buried in the Knockbreda Cemetery.