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Charles Edward Stewart (1887-1917)


Descendant of the Wolf of Badenoch, Adjutant 10th DLI died of wounds received at Arras


Charles was the third son of John George Stewart, of Widnell Henry and Stewart Ltd (1832-1983), carpet manufacturers of Lasswade, Midlothian, Scotland and Florence Jane Wilhelmina Grosvenor Stewart, nee Grosvenor. He graduated with a law degree from Brasenose College, Oxford: a keen sportsman, an expert trout fisher and an active member of the college sporting fraternity. In 1912 he was admitted a member of the Society of Writers to His Majesty’s Signet; (historically in Scotland, before civil writs could be issued, they had to be stamped with the Royal Stamp or Signet). The family traced its ancestry back to Alexander Stewart, Ear of Buchan (1343-1405), the third surviving son of Robert II of Scotland. Alexander Stewart was also known as the Wolf of Badenoch.

In September 1914 Charles Edward Stewart and his younger brother, Lieutenant Frederick Arnold Stewart, enlisted as privates in the Royal Scots at Edinburgh Castle. The following November they applied for temporary commissions for the duration of the war; preferably in a Scots Unit. However, they were both commissioned into the 16th (Service) Durham Light Infantry (DLI) and later the 10th DLI.

The brothers arrived in France in August 1915 where the 10th were in action at Ypres and the Somme. Charles was acting adjutant to the battalion for about a year before he was wounded in the stomach on the first day of the Battle of Arras.

A telegram was sent to his father informing him that ‘his son was dangerously ill and that it was regretted that permission to visit cannot be granted’.

However, his father, in his urgent reply reminded the War Office that he had already lost one son in France, Charles’ younger brother Frederick who was killed in action in September 1916, and politely requests that the War Office ‘kindly reconsider decision and wire immediately permit to visit also state nature of illness and in what hospital he is to be found’. Sadly, the family’s grief was to be compounded as his telegram crossed with a second telegram from the War Office with the news that Charles had died the previous day.

The 10th War Dairy entry for that first day of the Battle of Arras notes in the margin that ‘Capt C E Stewart died 11-4-17’; he is the only named casualty.

After his death, Charles was described in the UK, De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour 1914-1919 as a model undergraduate at Brasenose, Oxford, where he was a member of the Fifteen and College Eight and rowed in the Brasenose Boat at Henley Regatta (Thames Cup) 1908. His commanding officer was also quoted as saying that Charles was ‘easily the most popular officer in the battalion with both officers and men…. The life he led at the front was worthy the emulation of us all.’

Charles died at No 43 Casualty Clearing Station and was buried at Warlincourt Halle British Cemetery, Saulty, France. His grave was marked by a durable wooden cross with an inscription bearing full particulars.

He was posthumously awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous good service in the field for over 12 months.

His eldest brother, Captain George Stewart, RAMC, who also served in the war, requested Charles’ medals in 1919.

Birth date: 22-Jun-1887

Death date: 11-Apr-1917

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: Lasswade, Midlothian, Scotland (1888)
Dunraven, BroomiKnowe, Bonnyrigg, Midlothian (ecclesiastical parish Cockpen 1891 and 1901 censuses)

Education: Edinburgh Academy
Brasenose College Oxford BA Hons Law
Edinburgh University

Employment: Member of the Society of Writers to His Majesty’s Signet (Scottish Solicitor)

Family: Parents: John George Stewart (b1849), Florence Jane Wilhelmina Grosvenor Stewart (1857-1932)
Siblings: Florence Jane Stewart (b1879), Eliza Stewart (b1881), George Stewart (b 10-Sep-1883), John Grosvenor Stewart (b1886), Lyall Dudley Stewart (b1890), Frederick Arnold Stewart (1893-1916), Constance Margaret Stewart (b1897)

Military service:

Private
1st City of Edinburgh Battalion, Royal Scots (30-Sep-1914)
Lieutenant
16th (Service) Battalion DLI (3-Nov-1914), served in France from August 1915
Captain/Adjutant
10th DLI

Medal(s): Military Cross (posthumously, London Gazette, 4 June 1917)
1915 Star
British War
Victory Medal

Memorial(s): Warlincourt Halle British Cemetery, Saulty, France
First World War Roll of Honour, Lasswade, Midlothian, Scotland

Gender: Male

Contributed by MJE, Darlington