Charles Magrath Fendall – a ‘most modest, likeable, quiet, shy, amenable boy’.

C M Fendall -

Title: C M Fendall -
Description: by permission Downside School by-nc

The Fendall family have long associations with Windlesham.

Charles Bathurst Fendall married Frances Cecilia Pears in St John’s Church Windlesham on December 30th 1858. Charles Bathurst, whose father, William, served in the Army, had been born in India. Charles Bathurst himself was a schoolmaster and clerk in holy orders. At the time of the 1861 census, he was living with his family in Hatton Hall and by 1871, they were living in Woodcote House.

Charles Bathurst and Frances had five children – Mary, Frances, Arthur, Walter and Charles Pears.

Charles Pears was to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and join the army, he too serving in India where he met and married Rose Emily Ryan. Their three surviving children, Charles Magrath, Frances May and William Pears were all born in Bengal.

Charles, A.J., Emily, and Cecilia Fendall gathered around the stooks in a field near Okotoks. Courtesy of Elaine Thomas (relation)

Charles Magrath Fendall, born in 1892, was educated in the U.K. He probably attended Woodcote School under the care of his grandfather. Subsequently he was a pupil at Downside school in Somerset.

Canada passenger lists show he travelled to Calgary on the Dominion with his Uncle Arthur and his wife Emily. The 1911 census of Canada indicates that he was working as a labourer in Alberta. His Uncle Arthur was living nearby working as a farmer.

There are no detailed records of when exactly Charles Magrath Fendall returned to the UK.  At the time he applied for a commission in October 1914, his address was given as ‘Erica’, Wokingham, Berkshire’.

The Late CM Fendall

Title: The Late CM Fendall
Description: Berkshire and The War The Reading Standard pictorial record. Volume 2. p 297 - permission Reading Borough Library by-nc

The Reverend A J Hutton’s entry in the Windlesham Roll of Honour explains his service briefly:-

‘Charles McGrath Fendall was born August 29th 1892. Commissioned as Temporary 2nd Lieutenant R.F.A. October 1914. Gazetted Temporary Lietnt R.F.A. 1st Dec 1915. He was present at the Battle of Loos Sept 1915 with the Artillery of the 9th Scottish Division. 1915 Star.  War Medal. Victory Medal’

Farewell to Charles Fendall, as published in the Okotoks Review newspaper. Courtesy of Elaine Thomas (relation)

Charles Magrath died on 14th December 1915.  Downside School’s records indicate that his battery had been heavily shelled and he was killed by a shell which struck the office in which he was working.  In their book, letters to his parents are recorded and include the following:

‘The boy was killed by a shell, instantaneously, on the 14th. All our batteries have been getting rather heavily shelled lately. We know of no particular reason except that we are in a salient and, as the leaf comes off the trees, we possibly become visible – flashes at all events – to some enemy points, or observation balloons, or aeroplanes. I saw him myself about two days before. There is not much consolation in my telling you how much we all liked the boy. He was the most modest, likeable, quiet, shy, amenable boy. The cruel part is that we were just going out to ‘rest’, so called, and next week would have seen us out of this and in a back line temporarily. The division has lost a gallant soldier and a good gunner. I can’t bring myself in these times to pity a youngster who dies a gallant death for his country, but I do pity his father and mother’

Death notice for Charles Fendall. Courtesy of Elaine Thomas (relation)

A letter to his father, by now a Colonel based in Dover Castle, is dated 21st January 1916 and held in Charles Magrath Fendall’s Officer’s file within the National Archive. It reads:

‘The Military Secretary presents his compliments to Colonel Charles P Fendall and begs to inform him that a report has just been received from Army Headquarters in the Field which states that the burial place of the late Lieutenant C M Fendall of the Royal Field Artillery is as follows: “Ref Map: – Trench Map and part of Sheet 228 square I 26.b. 80.5.5. The grave is marked with a cross” The Military Secretary ventures to send this information now as Colonel Fendall may not previously have received it.’




A sketch map showing this position was attached.

Sketch map showing position of Charles Fendall's grave

Title: Sketch map showing position of Charles Fendall's grave
Description: National Archive WO339/24941; photograph Moira Nairn July 2018 by-nc

In February 1916, his mother wrote to the authorities confirming that her son had left no will. By this time, her husband, Colonel Fendall, was serving with the East African Expeditionary Force. A note in Charles Magrath’s file from March 1916 states that ‘all personal belongings were taken to England by a servant of the deceased and handed to his mother.’ His brother, William, had written to the Army requesting that the property be despatched to the U.K. by passenger train rather than goods train.

By 1920 when he applied for his son’s medals, Charles’ father was a Brigadier General. By then, the family were living again in the Windlesham area, in St Mary’s Cottage, South Ascot. Charles Pears Fendall died in 1933; his wife Emily dying four years later. Both are buried in Dorset.

Charles Magrath Fendall on the Okotoks Cenataph. Courtesy of Elaine Thomas (relation).


Hutton A.J., date unknown, Windlesham Roll of Honour SHC Ref: Z_682_1 20A

O.S.B. Dom Lucius Graham, 20th June 2006, Downside and the War 1914-1919 P127&128

National Archive WO 339/24941

National Archive WO 372/7/39965

Reading Borough Library –Berkshire and The War the Reading Standard pictorial record. Volume 2. p 297

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One Response to “Charles Magrath Fendall – a ‘most modest, likeable, quiet, shy, amenable boy’.”

  1. Charles Magrath Fendall was my mother’s first cousin. She was at the train station in Omotoks, Alberta, Canada, with her parents, Arthur and Emily Fendall, to see him off when he left to rejoin his regiment. If you’d like newspaper clippings about his departure and life in Canada, please contact me.

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