Lieutenant Charles William Coulter


Charles William Coulter was born on 19 January 1895 at Drumaness, Ballynahinch, County Down, son of carding master William Coulter and his wife Margaret Ann (nee Nelson).

He was educated at Belmont and Clifton College, Belfasr, before working as a clothier's apprentice.

Coulter enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 20 April 1915 (No.1490). He was promoted to lance corporal on 28 July and embarked for France on 10 January the following year as part of E Squadron, which was then serving as divisional cavalry to the 34th Division.

Two months later he applied for a commission in the infantry. The officer commanding the 34th Division, in recommending him for officer training, nonetheless wrote:

I have interviewed this N.C.O. and consider that he needs a much longer period of training, for a Commission in the Infantry, than is obtainable at the Cadet School.

Coulter returned home on leave on 5 May 1916 and the following July reported to the No.4 Officer Cadet Battalion at Oxford. On 22 November 1916 he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

During 1917 or 1918 Coulter was attached to the regiment's 13th Battalion and joined them in France. He was promoted to lieutenant on 22 May 1918.

According to a report in the Belfast News-Letter about this time, Coulter was "a noted marksman, and in the earlier stages of his military career did splendid work as a sniper."

On 28 August 1918, as his battalion was advancing on the Somme front during the Advance to Victory offensive, Coulter was wounded, the war diary for that day stating:

Reconnoitring patrols were sent out & reported Longueval & western edge of Delville Wood clear of enemy. A & C Coy occupied outpost line on Longueval Village. Lieut. C.W. Coulter wounded.

It was probably for his actions on this day, or the days immediately before, that he was awarded a Military Cross. The citation for the award read:

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. While bringing rations and ammunition up to the front line the road was heavily shelled, a mule being killed and the driver stunned. Sending the remainder of the convoy forward he and a N.C.O. dragged the driver to cover and removed the kit from the mule. He then caught up the convoy and delivered the whole of the rations and ammunition. On the return journey he was wounded, but brought his transport back to the lines. His determination ensured the delivery of the much-needed food and ammunition.

Coulter's wound was not severe, and he returned to his battalion soon after.

On 23 January 1919 he was demobilised. He relinquished his commission on 1 April 1920.