PRIVATE Charles Bamford was just one of the thousands of British Tommies to lose their lives during one of the biggest battles of the First World War.
But he was also a much-loved husband and father with a family back at home in Hartlepool.
The impact of Charles’s death on his family – and the futility of war – has now been brought vividly to life in verse by his granddaughter Sheila Simmons.
Sheila uncovered details about her grandfather’s sacrifice during research into her family history.
And she turned it into an emotional poem for the 100th anniversary of the start of the war.
Sheila, 64, read it out during a service at St Hilda’s Church during Hartlepool’s high profile commemorations.
“Everybody liked it and said ‘you’ve got to get that published’,” she said.
Charles, an only child and who would be an orphan by the time he was 15, was born in Coldstream, Scotland, but it is not known what brought him to Hartlepool.
But here he married Sarah Bedford and they had three children, including Sheila’s father Tom Bamford.
“They went from this happy little family group and he was killed in 1916,” said Sheila.
Charles joined the Durham Light Infantry when war broke out and served as a private. At 30, he was quite old compared to many of the young men who also gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Sheila, who is mum to Claire, 46, and Stephen, 38, added: “He was one of the unfortunates where no body was found to bury. All that’s left is his name on a wall.”
The impact of the Charles’s loss to his family back home is hard to put into words but provided the inspiration for Sheila’s poem.
She said: “Whenever I asked my dad about his childhood he talked about being hungry.
“But he said if it wasn’t for my granny they wouldn’t have survived.
“It is hard for us to imagine starvation. Back then there were no benefits or war widows pension.
“I don’t know how they got by really.”
The Battle of the Somme took place between July to November in 1916 and was intended to be the Allies’ big breakthrough.
But it turned into a shocking slaughter with 60,000 casualties and 20,000 dead.
The terrible waste of life inspired Sheila, a grandmother of two, to put pen to paper.
Her poem features lines such as “War’s a useless waste of effort of time and energy and life.”
And “Why couldn’t the problems be resolved before so many thousands died?”
Sheila, of Argyll Road, Hartlepool, added: “I do a lot of poetry but most of it is funny and about things like liposuction.
“I just feel we don’t learn anything from war.
“People just die then a few years later we have another one. Killing people doesn’t work.”
I’ve found a photo of my granda
He was killed in World War One
He wasn’t very old you know
When he was struck down at the Som me
It doesn’t seem quite fair to me
That a man just in is prime
Was sent away for cannon fodder
It really was a crime!
There was terrible class distinction then
And the politicians made the rules
And loads of jobless Tommies
Went to the trenches led by fools
It mattered not how many died
How many families were bereaved
How many children were left fatherless
How many lonely women grieved
“War is hell” they kept on saying
And to avoid it they should have tried
Why couldn’t the problems be resolved
Before so many thousands died?
My grandmother was left alone
With three children under five
God knows what she did back then
Just to keep her kids alive
There was no social security
And no child care system then
Women alone had terrible lives
Surviving without their men
I know that life has now moved on
For grieving women there’s more scope
The government takes care of them
For them there is more hope
But I’m sure life never compensates
For the men that they have lost
And war, no matter what the cause
Has a terribly dreadful cost
No politicians go to war
Their positions are protected
Their lives aren’t put upon the line
Their families aren’t dejected
I think that war should never happen
And there should be peace or everyone
Injustice should be fought still
But without killing everyone
There’ve been other conflicts since that time
And all the families still ask why
Was it our uncle, brother, son or dad
That was sent out to war to die
War’s a useless waste of effort
Of time and energy and life
That leaves many fatherless children
And many lonely wife
It’s eight plus eight plus 80 years ago
Since granda gave his all
But did we learn any lessons there
I don’t think we learned at all
I never knew my granda
I never knew my gran
If granda was anything like my dad
He was a proud and gentle man
It’s a shame that all that’s left of him
This man who gave his all
Along with 70,000 others
Is his name upon a wall