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Wandering down Church Road with my eight-year-old son during the Easter holidays, we decided to take a look at the war memorial opposite St Philip’s Church in Penn. Further details of this and other war memorials in the area are on Doug Lewis’s excellent website. I found the war memorial a useful trigger to discuss the issue, given that most of my son’s knowledge of the First World War up to now has come from the Horrible Histories books.

One name on the memorial was that of Captain Edward Charles Christian. The information on the Wolverhampton War Memorials site, which was corroborated by the site of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission was as follows:

7th Btn South Staffordshire Regiment. Killed in Action 11 September 1916 aged 21.Son of Mr E.H and Mrs C.H.Christian,
of 82 Church Rd Bradmore, Wolverhampton.Native of the Isle of Man.

A search of ManxBMD confirms his origins, with the birth of an Edward Charles Christian being registered in the District of Patrick in 1895. The son of Edward Henry Christian and Charlotte Henrietta Hely, he appears to have been linked with members of the peerage. The circumstances surrounding the family’s move from the Isle of Man are unclear, but certainly by the 1911 census they are listed in Wolverhampton.

Having fought in Gallipoli and Egypt, the 7th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment moved to France in July 1916. They fought on the front line at the Somme, being involved in the capture of the Wundt-Werk, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette and The Battle of Thiepval. It was during this period that Captain Christian was killed in action. This incident is recorded in Major Ashcroft’s History of the Seventh South Staffordshire Regiment, as follows:

[On] 11th September, we suffered another bitter loss. Capt. E. C. Christian, one of the oldest members of the battalion, was killed by a shell near “A” Company’s headquarters. This had been a very fine Boche battalion headquarters, and was constantly subject to fire…Capt. Christian had been doing excellent work as Intelligence Officer and the Corps Summaries at this time were often very largely a rescript of the information he and his scouts obtained. He was buried alongside Capt. Worcester in the little British cemetery at Aveluy.”