Here is a story about Charles Ernest Bancroft, who died during the Battle of the Somme, at a place called Regina Trench in France during WW1, and who led a very interesting and colourful life prior to his early death.
He was born in 1879 in Halifax, Yorkshire, although his birth date on military records is wrongly shown as 3rd June 1886, the second son of Frederick and Emma Bancroft, and his father ran a substantial brushmaking business in the town,[to read about this click here.]
Charlie must not have wanted to follow in his father's footsteps into the family brushmaking business because in February 1899 he emigrated to Canada, at the tender age of 20 years old, and sailed from Liverpool on the SS Scotsman, landing at Halifax, Nova Scotia. He then travelled throughout Canada and the western part of the North America. We know from research carried out by his niece in the 1960’s that he travelled through the states of Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Mexico and Alaska.
No adult photographs of Charlie have been found, but this early one shown him when he was around 16 years old, shortly after his father's death in 1895. Details on the reverse of the attestation papers give an insight into his appearance..... It says he was 5' 6'' tall...had a girth of 38''... ruddy completion....hazel eyes...brown hair...and had a deformed left finger nail!
The Regina Trench was a German Trench dug into the top of the slope of a valley running from northwest of the village of Le Sars in a southwest direction, almost to the German fortifications at Thiepval on the Somme Battlefield. It was the longest such trench on the German Front during World War I, and was attacked several times during the Battle of the Ancre Heights. A Canadian Brigade briefly controlled a section of the trench on October 1, 1916 but were repelled by counter attacks. Canadian Divisions again attacked Regina Trench on October 8, 1916 but saw no success. On October 21, 1916, Canadian Divisions again briefly captured sections of Regina Trench but were again pushed out by German counter-attacks. After a total of two months of attacks and constant shelling the trench was finally taken on 11th November 1916 by the 4th Canadian Division. However, its surrender may have been a fait-accompli, as in places the heavy sustained artillery barrage that had been directed at it, had reduced the trench to a shallow ditch in the chalky soil.
Here is the Army's record for Charles Bancroft, confirming he was killed during the assault on Regina Trench.
|Circumstances of Death Register.|
The photograph below shows exhausted Canadian soldiers returning from the Regina Trench after finally taking it in November 1916.
|Canadian Soldiers - November 1916|
|Regina Trench Cemetry|
|Charles's Inscription on the Vimy Memorial|