636730 Pte. Charles Hartin was born February 12th, 1898, in Marlbank, Ontario, which is a little town about 16 miles north of Napanee. Charlie, like his parents, Agnes and Christopher (Christie), were Methodists and farmers. He had a brother, William, two years older and 3 younger sisters; Edith, Rhoda and Annie.

Only 4 days after his 18th birthday, on February 16th, 1916, Charlie volunteered in Marlbank to the 155th (Quinte) Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and was given regimental number 636730. He was 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed 135 pounds. He was single, of fair complexion, with blue eyes and light brown hair. He had no previous military experience.

The 155th Battalion began recruiting in late 1915 in the Hastings and Prince Edward County area. The unit trained outside of Kingston, in Barriefield, under the command of Lieut-Col. M. K. Adams. In June, 1916, only a few months after Charlie enlisted and whilst he was still in training, his mother passed away.

After completing his training in Canada, Charlie and the rest of the 155th Battalion made their way to Halifax and boarded the ship the SS Northland. On October 18th they departed for England and on arriving proceeded to Bramshott Camp in Surrey, England, ten days later on the 28th. Bramshott Camp was the largest training area for Canadian soldiers in England in WW1 and the first thing the soldiers needed to do was to spend a couple weeks there in quarantine.

They passed quarantine time marching down the narrow, paved streets lined with high hedgerows or through pretty and quaint villages with their houses complete with low stone walls and grassy lawns. The rest of the time was spent writing letters, doing their washing or playing baseball. After completing their quarantine period, the 155th Battalion was absorbed into the 154th (Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders) Battalion and the 6th Reserve Battalion, to await assignment to a unit that they would fight with.

Charlie was assigned to the 4th CMR on November 28th, and arrived in France the next day to join them as they moved back to their rest billets at Etrun. The next day he would have been inspired by the 8th Brigade Commander, who presented awards to about 100 officers and men for their actions in the previous few months. He went into front line trenches for the first time himself a week later.

In February, 1917, Charlie and the rest of the 4th CMR was pulled out of the line and started 5 weeks of training and preparation for the attack on the German stronghold of Vimy Ridge. The ridge was thought to be impenetrable as the French had tried for 3 years, with 150,000 casualties, and still not been able to take it. On April 9th, 1917, the 4th CMR, with snow blowing at their backs, attacked the ridge with rest of the 4 Canadian divisions. The 4th CMR had the objective of crossing 3 German trench lines and capturing a large wooded area called La Folie Wood, which was just beyond the crest of the ridge. Although the battle would last for 3 days, with the 4th Division struggling to take their objectives on a nearby hill, the 4th CMR had taken all of their assigned objectives by mid-afternoon on the first day. 43 men of the 4th CMR were killed, 131 wounded and 19 were missing that day, but Charlie, as he would boast in a letter to a friend of his, made it through without a scratch. For the Canadians, this was their first major victory of the war.

On May 26th, 1917, Charlie was well behind the lines at Toronto Camp. It was 8:30pm and the 4th CMR was enjoying a game of baseball when another young man from the Napanee area, Pte. Clarence McCabe, picked up a blind (unexploded) shell. The shell went off killing both Clarence and Charlie instantly. A total of 9 men of the 4th CMR died as a result of the accident, including, in addition to Charlie and Clarence:

Pte. George Griffin and

Sgt. George Knowles both also died immediately;

Pte. Shurley Asselstine,

Pte. Arthur Carroll and

Pte. Bertie Traviss died the next day at no. 6. Casualty Clearing Station;

Pte. James Dunn survived until May 31st and

Pte. Edwin Payne died on June 18th.

10 more were wounded, including: Pte. Thomas Davy and Pte. Morley Gilbert.

Charles Hartin is buried in La Targette Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France. An image of his headstone can be viewed courtesy of the Maple Leaf Legacy Project website. Charlie's name is also on the Cenotaph in front of the Court House in Napanee and is remembered there along with Pte. Asselstine, Pte. Carroll, Pte. Dunn and Pte. McCabe.

Credit and many thanks go to Bryan Joyce for the above biography

Bryan has written a book about Clarence McCabe's life, and this can be reviewed and bought via this link: Clarence McCabe