Celebrating the life of
Private Charles Edward Cleaver
Julie Long is a Chartered Legal Executive working for Davey Law. Her paternal great-grandfather, Charles Edward Cleaver, joined the 9th Gloucesters when war broke out in 1914.
Fighting in the offensive around Dojran, he was fatally wounded and died in Salonika in 1917.
We at Davey Law wanted to commemorate his story, one among many thousands of similar sad stories, but one which is close to our hearts here at Davey Law with his connection to our colleague Julie.
Julie Long FCILEX
Celebrating the life of Private Charles Edward Cleaver
I grew up not far from here in Tetbury, as did many generations of my paternal family before me. As we remember the centenary of the Great War, it seems fitting to share this bit of my family history with you.
My paternal great-grandfather, Charles Edward Cleaver, was born in Tetbury in 1884. He was the son of Joseph and Emily Cleaver, also of Tetbury. He married a Tetbury girl, Florence. Charles and Florence had two sons, George and Stanley. George and Stanley remained in Tetbury and married. They each had a girl and a boy. Their sons remain in Tetbury now although both daughters moved away.
When war broke out, Charles enlisted as a private in the 9th Gloucesters. He found himself in Macedonia, fighting the Bulgarians in the First Battle of Dojran between 22nd April and 8th May 1917. The British troops suffered catastrophic losses and abandoned their attack. The offensive around Dojran accounted for almost a quarter of British casualties in Macedonia.
After he was wounded, Charles was evacuated by rail to Salonica. We still have the letter that he wrote to Florence, which is dated 17th May 1917:
My Darling Wife and Children
I am writing these few lines to let you know I am still going on as well as can be expected. I hope you have heard before as I have asked several to write for me. I shall not be able to write much as I am very shaky. Well my darling it has come at last and it was at God’s mercy it wasn’t the last. I never thought I should get out of it after I was hit. I hope this will find you all quite well. Please give my fondest love to all at home also Nan & Em, and kiss the boys from Daddy. Now my darling cheer up & don’t get worrying it may bring me back to Blighty before long. I must promise more next time and with my very fondest love to you and the boys.
I remain your ever loving and devoted husband. Charles
Sadly, Charles was not able to write again, nor did he return to Blighty. He died of his wounds on 10th June 1917. He was buried in the military cemetery in Salonica, Greece. My dad Charles Cleaver (son of George and named after his grandfather), visited the grave recently.
Before he went away to war, my great grandfather was a bell ringer at St Mary’s Parish Church, Tetbury. The Tetbury bell ringers were kind enough commemorate the 100th year of his death last year by ringing the bells for him, which was attended by three generations of Cleavers – my dad and his cousins (ie Stanley’s children), me and my two children.
Julie Long (nee Cleaver)