Researched and written by Anne Wright
Major J C T Gaskell
69th Punjabis, attd. 129th Duke of Connaught’s Own Baluchis
Killed in action, 5.8.1917
John Charles Temple Gaskell (known as Charles) was a career soldier. His education included a year at The King’s School, Canterbury, from January to December 1896, followed by three years at Haileybury School, which he left in 1900. On 15 January 1901 he entered the Royal Military College at Sandhurst from where he graduated a year later.
Charles was the third son of Reverend Thomas Kynaston Gaskell and his wife Horatia Octavia (nee Hugo). He was born at Peterborough on 24 June 1883 and baptised at St. Helen’s Church, Folksworth, near Peterborough on 29 July 1883. One of his sponsors was Bishop Frederick Temple, his mother’s uncle and a future Archbishop of Canterbury. Charles had five siblings, three brothers and two sisters; his older brother Lt-Commander Gerald Bruce Gaskell was lost in action when HMS Good Hope was sunk at the Battle of Coronel on 1 November 1914.
On 22 October 1902 Charles was commissioned into the Northamptonshire Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant, at which point he lived in Ealing, W. London. Three months later he set sail for Bombay. He was to spend several years in India. He learned to speak four Indian languages and moved up the ranks becoming a Lieutenant in January 1905 and a Captain in October 1911. By the time he was promoted to Captain he was with the 69th Punjabis and from March 1904 he had served with the 63rd Palamcottah Light Infantry.
In the summer of 1914 he was at home and married Mary (Mamie) Agatha Folds at St. Dunstan’s Catholic Church in Woking on the 7 July. They had two daughters, Harriett Mary, b. 1915 and Elizabeth Mary, b. 1916. Harriett died as a child. Elizabeth married Louis Thornley King; they lived in Cheadle Hume and Prestbury. Charles must have seen very little of his family as soon after the outbreak of war his regiment was sent to Quantara on the Suez Canal. He then went to Gallipoli (Turkey) where he was badly wounded by shrapnel in the chest on 13 May 1915. Charles recovered and then returned to India.
In early 1917 he was attached to the 129th Duke of Connaught’s Own Baluchis and joined the British Expeditionary Force to East Africa. Here, Charles became part of the four year difficult and drawn out campaign against the German East Africa force under General von Lettow-Vorbeck. German East Africa was comprised of modern day Rwanda, Burundi and the continental part of Tanzania, bordered to the north by British East Africa, now, Uganda and Kenya. The German General understood that he could not defeat the British and Imperial units outright so he operated a guerrilla campaign to suck in more and more Allied troops and in so doing prevent their use elsewhere. He was successful in that he tied up almost one million men. Charles was killed in action at Nanyabi on 5 August 1917. The day before his death he had been promoted to acting Major, while operating as second in command of the battalion.
Charles was originally buried in Kilwa Kivinje Cemetery (a port in Tanzania to the south of Dar Es Salaam) but was brought to the Dar Es Salaam War Cemetery (1.AA.7) in the early 1970s when maintenance of smaller cemeteries could no longer be guaranteed. He is also commemorated with his father and brother, Gerald, in St. Bodolph’s Church, Longthorpe, now part of Peterborough and at Haileybury School as well as in Weybridge.
Charles’ parents and two sisters had lived in Princes Road, Weybridge in 1911 and after his father’s death in Cobham in 1915 his mother lived at Oakley, Windsor Walk also in Weybridge. His address at the time of his death was ‘Ashdale’, Cleardown in Woking. Charles’ widow did not remarry and died at Prestbury, Cheshire on 6 June 1966.
The Children of Rev. Thomas Kynaston Gaskell and Horatia Octavia Hugo, http://gaskellfamily.com/
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007, www.ancestry.co.uk
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wlls and Administrations), 1861-1941, www.ancestry.co.uk
First World War – German East Africa, www.mgtrust.org/gea.htm
German East Africa, https://www.britannica.com/place/German-East-Africa
The King’s School, Canterbury, Roll of Honour, http://www.hambo.org/kingscanterbury/view_manphp?id=163
Surrey, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1962, www.ancestry.co.uk