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95219   Lieutenant Francis Richard Charles
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Dated added: 30/12/2015   Last updated: 06/01/2020
Personal Details
Regiment/Service: 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars, Royal Armoured Corps (British Army)
Date Of Birth: 12/04/1919
Died: 19/11/1941 (Killed in Action)
Age: 22
Summary      
Francis Richard Charles was the son of Dr. Richard Charles of Ipswich, Suffolk. He was the Grandson of Mr and Mrs. Richard Charles, Loy Hill, Cookstown, County Tyrone. Francis Richard Charles received a commission with the 8th Royal Irish Hussars on 1st July 1939 and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 1st January 1941. The 8th Royal Irish Hussars were part of the 7th Armoured Division, better known as the Desert Rats. On 18th November 1941, Operation Crusader was launched. The objective was to relieve Tobruk. It was during this action that Lieutenant Francis Richard Charles was killed in action on 19th November.
Further Information
Francis Richard Charles was the son of Dr Richard Charles, O.B.E., F.R.C.S. and Mrs Charles.
World War One
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 25th May 1918: Richard Charles (father of Francis Charles)
Captain Richard Charles R.A.M.C., (son of Mr Richard Charles, Cookstown), has been promoted to the rank of major. He is a surgical specialist in a casualty station in France, and has been mentioned three times in despatches.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 31st December 1918: Mentioned in Despatches – Sir Douglas Haig’s List – Royal Army Medical Corps
Major R Charles, F.R.C.S.I., son of Mr Richard Charles, Cookstown
Between the Wars
Francis Richard Charles was born on 12th April 1919.
He was the grandson of Mr and Mrs Richard Charles, Loy Hill, Cookstown, County Tyrone.
Francis Charles was educated at and Aldeburgh Lodge and then at Uppingham.
Francis was a fine all-round sportsman. At Uppingham he was in the cricket XI, and got his colours for hockey and was also an acknowledged tennis player.
Francis Charles passed through Sandhurst.
He received a commission with the 8th Royal Irish Hussars on 1st July 1939. He captained the regimental cricket team.
World War Two
He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 1st January 1941.
The 8th Royal Irish Hussars were part of the 7th Armoured Division, better known as the Desert Rats. The division took part in the British offensive in late 1940 which recaptured Sidi Barrani and Bardia from the Italians and later in February 1941 the division took part in the decisive Battle of Beda Fomm which led to the capture of most of the Italian forces in North Africa at the time.
After Operation Battleaxe failed to relieve the siege of Tobruk in June 1941, General Archibald Wavell was replaced as Commander-in-Chief of the Middle East campaign by General Claude Auchinleck.
On 18th November 1941, Operation Crusader was launched. The objective was to relieve Tobruk. It was during this action that Lieutenant Francis Richard Charles was killed in action on 19th November 1941.
30th Corps continued to advance through the southern desert, aiming to engage and destroy enemy tanks before turning north-west to rendezvous with the breakout at Tobruk.
By 21st November, both 30th Corps and 70th Division were pinned down by the enemy artillery of Rommel’s 90th Light Division. The situation was saved by the advance of 13th Corps, which began engaging enemy positions along the coast on 22nd November.
By 26th November, 13th Corps, New Zealand Division had cleared the corridor between Tobruk and 30th Corps positions. The German Africa Corps withdrew on 6th December 1941, creating a new frontline at Gazala, west of Tobruk.
Later in December, further skirmishes in western Cyrenaica, with incurred heavy British losses, were followed by the German withdrawal to Tripolitan.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 10th January 1942: Roll of Honour
CHARLES – Killed in action in the Middle East, Lieutenant Francis Richard Charles, of the King’s Royal Hussars, only son of Dr Richard and Mrs Charles of Ipswich, Suffolk, and grandson of Mrs Eleanor Charles and the later Mr Richard Charles, Loy Hill, Cookstown.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 10th January 1942: (From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 13th January 1917 - Richard Charles - father of Francis Charles)
Among those mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s despatches from the Western Front was Captain Richard Charles, F.R.C.S.I., son of Mr Richard Charles of Cookstown. He was serving with the RA.M.C. in France.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 10th January 1942:
The Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury of last week gives a portrait of Lieutenant Francis R Charles, of the King’s Royal Hussars, who has been killed in action. The deceased, who was only 22 years of age, was the only son of Dr Richard Charles of Ipswich (who was the son of the late Mr Richard Charles of Cookstown). Educated and Aldeburgh Lodge and Uppingham, he passed through Sandhurst and received his commission in July 1939. A fine all-round sportsman, he carried everything before him in athletics. At Uppingham he was in the Cricket XI, and got his colours for hockey and was also an acknowledged tennis player. Those sporting qualities, and his warm of manner, made him especially popular in his regiment, where he captained the regimental cricket team. It will be noticed that in our “25 years ago”, by a coincidence his father, Captain Richard Charles, F.R.C.S.I., was serving with the RA.M.C. in France a quarter of a century ago, and was mentioned in despatches by Sir Douglas Haig.
Lieutenant Francis Richard Charles has no known grave and is commemorated on the Alamein Memorial in Egypt.
The CWGC record Lieutenant Francis Richard Charles as the son of Richard Charles, O.B.E., F.R.C.S., and Mary Charles, of Ipswich, Suffolk, England.
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References and Links
No Link Reference Map Doc
1 British Army Officers 1939-1945 Details of Lieutenant Francis Richard Charles
Cookstown District's War Dead Acknowledgements 2010-2020