This week we remembered Bourne man Corporal Charles Richard Creek of the 4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment who was killed in action on the 2nd May 1917.
Charles Creek was born in Sheffield in the summer of 1891 to Richard Creek a Farm Labourer born in Ely, Cambridgeshire and his wife Elizabeth Ann Canham born in Stretham, who were married in Sheffield in 1886.
They had 8 children, one whom had died before 1911:-
Ida Elizabeth Creek, 1887, Sheffield
Dora Alice Creek, 1889, Sheffield
Charles Richard Creek, 1891, Sheffield
Carrie Creek, 1893, Sheffield
Percival Creek, 1897, Sheffield
Lily Creek, 1899, Sheffield
Walter Evelyn Creek, 1904, Stretham
By 1901 the family had moved back to Cambridgeshire and were living in Elizabeth’s home village of Stretham at Green End.
1911 saw Charles as a 19 year old working as a farm labourer, living with his parents at The Laburnums, Upware, Swaffham Fen, Cambridgeshire.
In 1913 Charles married Flora Walker in the Newmarket district. Flora was born in Hilgay, Norfolk in 1886 and was the daughter of John Walker and Rose Anna Scott.
Charles and Flora had three children, Percy E born 1914,
Vincent B C born 1916 and Mona A Creek born 1917 all in Bourne.
During their time in Bourne the family lived in Burghley Street and the widowed Flora later took the family to Boston.
Charles joined the Army on the 7th May 1915, enlisting into the Lincolnshire Regiment in Bourne.
The official army records for Charles are believed to be part of the records lost in the bombing of the London warehouse in the blitz and therefore we can only assume certain dates with regards to his movements during the war.
Charles would have been trained at Belton Park with the 3rd/4th battalion, the third line training battalion before his initial posting abroad.
Charles first saw a posting abroad on the 27th October 1915, where he would have been posted to France to Join the 4th battalion (1st/4th – First Line Battalion)
We can only look at the Battalion Diaries to give us an insight into Charles’s war. A fuller detail of the movements of the 4th Battalion can be found on Charles Creek’s page on our web site – Linked at the end of this post.
In this commemoration post we will follow his movements in the last month os his life.
The 1/4th Lincolnshire Regiment fought in the 46th (North Midland) Division and within that the 138th Brigade which consisted of the 1/4th Lincolns, 1/5th Lincolns as well as the 4th and 5th Leicestershire Regiment.
For many months at the beginning of 1917 the 4th Lincolns would relieve the 5th in the front line and vice versa and so the movements of the two Battalions were inextricably linked.
1st April 1917 – Estree Blanche
We hold church service in the Sucerie (Sugar House). The building makes a spacious improvised cathedral and there is plenty of room even when the 4th Lincs Regt, R.E’s, M.G’s and T.M.B’s have marched in.
We cease wearing the Bose Respirator and smoke helmet, which before, had always been carried on the person whilst on parade.
2nd April 1917
Platoon Training under platoon commanders
3rd April 1917
Platoon and Company drill.
4th April 1917
Reorganisation of sections. Parades are as strong as possible and at 11.15am the companies are ready for inspection by the C.O.
The second in command and one officer per company carry out tactical exercises under the brigadier.
The Brigadier has kindly offered to present a cup, to be called the Febvin Cup for an inter-company football cup-tie. Battalions will play inter-company matches to arrive at the best team.
5th April 1917 – Estree Blanche
We pass the starting point at 10am to take part in a Brigade Route March. We join beyond Cuhem and thence we pass through Laires, Boncourt, Flechin and return to Estree Blanche, having covered a distance of roughly eleven miles.
6th April 1917
The Battalion marches to the training area allotted to the 138th Brigade and carried out tactical exercises. The large wood proves too much for some platoon commanders and readjustment is needed before exit is made on the farther side.
D company prove the victor in a well contested match with A company and have to meet C company, who have already vanquished B Company.
7th April 1917
The Battalion practices the Trench Attack on B training area, men remaining in Estree Blanche march to the mine at Flechinelle where are excellent shower baths.
8th April 1917 – Estree Blanche
Church parade in the Sucerie. Easter Sunday is favoured with a warm bright sun. The first spring day of the year.
9th April 1917
A Divisional route march. The Battalionjoins the 138th Brigade at Flechin and the Division at the cross roads 1 mile South East of Febvin Palfart. They march us then by Westerhem, Auchy, Rely and Estree Blanche. At Rely the whole Division marches past the corps commander, who expresses his pleasure at the marching and general appearance of the men.
10th April 1917
The Battalion spends the day on the training ground. Open warfare, under rules laid down in S.S 144 is practiced.
11th April 1917
The 4th Lincolns take part in a Brigade attack across open country the breaking up into artillery formation by platoons and diamond formation by sections is very successful as is also the extension formation of waves. In the later stages of the attack however, the leadership by platoon section commanders is severely ostracised.
The G.O.C attends and addresses the officers after the practice.
12th April 1917 – Estree Blanche
Companies under company commanders. Specialists at their subjects. 2/LT H.R.Greenwood arrives from the base and is posted to A company.
13th April 1917
The Battalion marches to Le Cornet Bourdois, 2 miles North of Lillers.
Estree Blanche is left at 8am and we arrive at our new billets at 12.30pm. Le Cornet Bourdois is remarkable for the quantity and quality of its waters. There are springs at every house and the doctor is enthusiastic in its praise.
14th April 1917
Parade under company commanders: companies will be ready to move at short notice.
15th April 1917
Church parade is ordered but owing to the wretched weather the parade is cancelled. Very little rain is needed to convert the fields into marshes. The Battalion has the Thresh Disinfector for 2 days and makes full use of it.
16th April 1917 – Vendin Lez Bethune
The Battalion marches to Vendin Lez Bethune a distance of less than 9 miles. The route is by Lillers and Chocques. We leave Le Cornet Bourdois at 9am and arrive at Vendin shortly after midday.
17th April 1917 – Vendin Lez Bethune
Platoons under Platoon Commanders. Special attention paid to small tactical exercises and solutions as laid down in S.S. 143
18th April 1917
Companies under Company Commanders. Bad weather prevents carrying out of tactical schemes on training ground South West of Chocques.
19th April 1917
Starting at 1pm the Battalion marched from Vendin Lez Bethune to Cite St Pierre. The Iron Gates, Maroc, were passed at 7.30pm and the Battalion reached its destination soon after 8pm. The total distance was about 14 miles.
20th April 1917 – Cite St Pierre
A fairly quiet day. Ignorant of the country and of the exact enemy positions we exposed ourselves needlessly.
21st April 1917
The enemy bombarded the place intensely from 2pm until 8pm. Over 200 8” and 5.9” shells fell on the railway just south of billets. It was evident that the enemy were searching for 4.5 inch battery immediately West of our billeting area. He had no success.
22nd April 1917 – Cite St Pierre
On the 22nd, we supply carrying parties to the 4th Leicesters who are the left Battalion on the Brigade front. They are successful in capturing Copper Trench with 10 Prisoners.
23rd April 1917
We relieve the 5th Lincs Regiment in the right battalion sector. The method of holding the line is entirely new to us and most interesting. Trenches serve only as a means of approach and advanced posts are concealed in houses which occupy commanding positions. There is little protection in the way of wire and obstacles, this necessitates a super alertness. The men are helped much by knowing that they are top dog and are ready to seek encounters.
24th April 1917
It is evident that the enemy is very nervous. We are the witness on this night of a magnificent display of red, green and white enemy lights followed by and intense defensive barrage which must have stretched two or three miles to the south.
On this night also NCOs patrol of A company attacked enemy sentries in a strong post and were successful in killing one man.
25th April 1917 – Cite St Pierre
The enemy continues his plan of intermittent shelling with some success. A carrying party under 2/LT Baker, in Corkscrew trench were unlucky with a shell, one wounded and 2/LT Baker half buried.
26th April 1917
We side step to the right and take over the front hitherto held by one battalion of the Staffords and for the last two days by the 5th Lincs Regiment. C and D companies take their place in the line, A and B companies are in support.
A telegram of support from the G.O.C on the good work of A company’s patrol of the night of 24th/25th.
27th April 1917
We do not have our advanced posts in any definite system of trenches and too many visitors during the daytime only invite disaster. We see hardly and movement in the enemy line and it is our intension that he shall see little of us.
With a view to farther operations four battalion scouts rcoonnoitre by night a number of houses beyond our advanced posts.
They return with information that 3 or 4 of the enemy are patrolling these houses. This confirms information already gained by 2/LT B.S.Halliday.
28th April 1917
The early morning of the 28th is marked by an intense enemy bombardment which develops into nothing more serious.
At night 2nd LT B V Halliday takes out a fighting patrol the object being to capture the enemy patrollers seen the previous night, but with no success. The patrol then proceeds to examine a supposed strong point but finds no one there, neither signs of occupation. In returning they are fired on by enemy machine guns but have no casualties.
29th April 1917 – Levin
We are relieved by the 5th lincs Regt and move into billets at Lievin. There is ample cellar accommodation and facilities for bathing of which we make full use.
30th April 1917 – Lievin
The day is spent in cleaning up and interior economy. The men have been 10 days without packs and are much in need of a rest. Since leaving Vendin Lez Bethune we have had particularly fine warm weather, a sudden change from the unpleasantly cold and wet weather up to the 20th April.
2nd LT B V Halliday receives a telegram of congratulation from the G O C on his patrol of the night of the 28th inst.
1st May 1917 – Loos (Harts Crater)
We received orders to relieve the 71st Brigade in the line. But left is the Old German Front Line, North East of Harts Crater and our right is near Fosse 11 de Lens. The relief is completed by night without incident.
2nd May 1917 –
In the early morning of the 2nd a bombing post of A company in Netley Trench raided by enemy Sturmtruppe. We suffer somewhat heavily our casualty list being 1 killed, 4 missing, 11 wounded. The wounded men were bombed whilst resting in the dug-out, the post having been captured or pushed back. The four men on duty on the post were all hit by the first salvo. There is an intense artillery fire on both sides, 2nd Lieut J Rockey was killed by a sniper whilst visiting his advanced post in Nero Trench.
It is this enemy action that took the life of Corporal Charles Creek.
Cambridge Daily News Wednesday 30th March 1917
Cambridge Independent Press Friday 1st June 1917
Official information has been received that Corpl. C. R. Creek, of the Lincs Regt., was killed in France on May 2nd. Corpl Creek, who was the eldest son of Mr and Mrs R Creek, of the Laburnums, Upware and son-in-law of the late Mr J. Walker of Ten Miles Bank, Norfolk, joined the Army on May 7th 1915 and he had been specially mentioned for bravery on the field. His lieutenant, writing to Mrs Creek says; “It is with deep regret I write to inform you that your husband, Corpl. C. R. Creek, was killed a few days ago whilst on duty. I am not able to supply you with full particulars except that he was severely wounded and expired within a short time. His loss is keenly felt by me and N.C.O.’s and men of the platoon, but it may be some consolation to you to know that he performed his duty in a splendid way and was likes very much by us all. The N.C.O.’s and men of the platoon join with me in expressing our deepest sympathy for you in your great loss.” Corpl. C. R. Creek leaves a wife and two small children to mourn their loss.
Cambridge Independent Press Friday 13th July 1917
CORPL. C. R. CREEK, eldest son of Mr and Mrs R Creek, of Upware, Killed in action. Corps Creek who had been specially mentioned for bravery, leaves a widow and two little children.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Corporal C R Creek, 201401, 1st/4th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 2 May 1917
Remembered with honour, Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe.