The biographies will be presented according to their date of death.
Charles Neil Chambers was Porthcawl's first casualty of the war.
CHARLES NEIL CHAMBERS 1895-1914
1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment
Service No 9483 Date of death - 22nd October 1914
Charles, or Charlie as he was referred to in the 1911 Census , was born in February 1895. Charlie was one of six surviving children born to Thomas and Ann Chambers in the Portsea and Landport district of Portsmouth. His father who was a driller and fitter at the local dockyard died in 1912 at the age of 52yrs. It appears that following his death, Ann returned to her birthplace of Porthcawl, taking her youngest children Ethel, Albert and Violet, with her.
Ann had been born to Richard and Catherine Marshall on 28th June 1859 in Newton in the house next door to the Jolly Sailor Public House. She left home at the age of 18yrs to go into service in Cardiff and met Thomas Charles Chambers from Lincoln, who possibly would have been working in Cardiff Docks. They soon moved to Portsmouth, as they were married in 1890 in Portsea. Their first daughter Elizabeth , was born there in 1891 followed by son Thomas in 1893.
By the time Ann returned to Porthcawl her two eldest children were in employment in the Portsmouth area. Elizabeth worked in a corset factory and Thomas in a brickyard. Charlie , however, although 16yrs old had yet to find a job. However, in 1913 on reaching the age of 18yrs, amidst the political climate at the time, joined the Dorsetshire Regiment, Service No 9483.
Following the outbreak of war on 4th August 1914, Private Charles N Chambers of the 1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment landed at Le Havre on 16th August as part of the British Expeditionary Force. Whereas the French and German armies contained over a million in their ranks , in the field, at the outbreak of war, the B.E.F. numbered only 150,000, as over 100,000 men were distributed throughout the Empire. Under the command of General Sir John French the B.E.F made their way north by train to the B.E.F’s concentration area which converged at Mauberge-Hirson-le Cateau. On 21st August the B.E.F set off into the theatre of war. Within the next months the 1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment, incorporated within the II Corps of the B.E.F , saw action at the battle of the Mons, Le Cateau, the Retreat from Mons, the Marne, the Aisne and La Bassee.
His name is amongst 13,400 British soldiers who were killed in this sector of the Western Front from the beginning of October 1914 to the beginning of the battle of Loos 25th September 1915. In October 1914,the II Corps had moved further north and taken up positions in French Flanders where they immediately had taken part in attacks and counter –attacks that were later to become known as “the race to the sea.” At the battle of La Bassee (10th October – 2nd November 1914) 122 Dorsetshires were killed on 13th October. All of the men are remembered on Panel 22-23 of the Le Touret Memorial. As Charles is among them, was that the date of his death? Apart from the extreme anxiety and heartache that Mrs Chambers endured throughout this period, it also, shows how the lack of communication, the unforeseen carnage and the general chaos of the war, possibly, confused reports and clouded many judgments of the time.