Private Charles John Aylett, aged 19

 

The fifth and final casualty in 1917 was Private Charles John Aylett, aged 19

 

Charles Aylett was born on 7 June 1898 at the Old Post Office, Stoke Lacy. His father, Henry Aylett, was a master butcher, grocer and provisions dealer and newsagent. Neither he nor Charles’s mother, Edith Augusta, lived to see their son grow up.

 

Henry died of scarlet fever in 1904, aged 36, Edith of despair a year later, aged 37. Charles was an orphan at the age of seven. He went to live with his grandparents Charles senior and Elizabeth Aylett at Crumplebury Farm, Whitbourne. As soon as he reached eighteen he enlisted.

 

On 27 February 1917 Charles Aylett arrived in France with the Infantry Labour Company, Devonshire Regiment. His weak constitution was, however, totally unsuited to hauling equipment through the mud of the Somme – he had had rheumatic fever as a child, which had damaged his heart valves. He lasted barely a week, and was discharged from the army on 22 May.

 

On 25 July 1917 Charles Aylett was granted an army pension. He died five months later at the age of 19 and is buried in Stoke Lacy churchyard next to his parents.

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