Sapper Charles Henry Matthews

Rank or Title

Date of Birth

Jan 1886

Date of Death

25 Mar 1920

Media files and documents

War time / or Pre War occupation



Service Number


Place of Birth

United Kingdom

World War I Address

92 Ridgeway Road
United Kingdom

Place of Death

Three Counties Asylum
United Kingdom

Grave Location

Plot 7292
Rothesay Road
United Kingdom

Soldier or Civilian

  • Soldier

Charles Henry Matthews was born in Luton in January 1886. The youngest of 2 sons born to Joseph & Kate.

In 1901 Charles is 15 years old & living with his family at 113 High Town Road. His father is 50 years old & working as a bricklayer. His 20 year old brother Herbert is also a bricklayer whilst Charles is a bricklayer's labourer. His 50 year old mother Kate is a straw hat sewer.

Charles joined the Royal Engineers on 26th January 1904 in London when he was 18 years old. His pension record describes him as 5ft 6 1/2 inches tall with brown hair, blue eyes & a fresh complexion.

He served at home & it was whilst at Shorncliffe Army Camp Folkestone on 18th October 1906, that he was sent to hospital with a fracture to the metacarpal bones in his right hand.

Charles married Emily Bent on 31st May 1909 in Luton. In 1911 they were living at 92 Ridgeway Road, Charles is a bricklayer & Emily is a straw hat finisher. Their daughter Kathleen Nellie was on 21st January 1912.

Charles had served 10 years with the colours & was transferred from army reserves at Shorncliffe on 5th August 1914 when war broke out & was sent to France on 28th August that year.

It was whilst serving in France that Charles fell ill. His pension record tells us that he was suffering from 'Myalgia- Abnormal Mental State'

' Originated at St Margarets in September 1914. First suffered from Lumbago, then after falling in a trench complained of increasing pain & inability to get about. In November he became peculiar in his manner, had delusions & was morose.'

The medical board concluded that it was nervous shock as a result of active service due to severe work & exposure as a sapper. Although deemed not necessary permanent, he was discharged as having total incapacity & no longer fit for service.

Charles was admitted to the 1st Western General Hospital in Liverpool on 20th October 1914, then transferred to the Three Counties Asylum in Arlesey, Bedfordshire on 24th December 1915.

The Three Counties Asylum, later known as Fairfield Hospital, was built in 1860 to treat people with psychiatric problems until it's closure in 1999. During & after WW1 it treated men & women suffering from shell shock.

Sadly Charles did not return to civilian life & died at the hospital on 25th March 1920. He is buried in the cemetery on Rothesay Road.

Individual Location

Author: KarenC

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