b. 02/04/1889 Pickworth, Lincolnshire. d. 18/02/1963 Workington, Cumbria
Charles Richard Sharpe (1889-1963) was born at Pickworth, near Folkingham, Lincolnshire on 2nd April 1890. His father was Robert Sharpe, a farm labourer, and his mother was Charlotte Ann nee Norris. His parents married in Frodingham, Lincolnshire on 12th December 1877. Both of his parents came from large families so it was not surprise that Charles was one of fifteen children.
Charles was educated at Newton School, Haceby, near Pickworth until 1905 and was employed in service at Messrs Langham and Garner’s at Stroxton. He then worked on Mr William Knight’s farm, a local landowner and also the churchwarden. He enlisted with the 4th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment (Militia) on 3rd January 1907. He transferred to the Depot on 21st April for regular service with the 2nd Battalion and was known as “Shadder”. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in 1908. He served at Portsmouth and Gibraltar and was stationed with his Battalion in Bermuda when war broke out. The Battalion returned to Britain and Charles had 48 hours leave before he went to France on 6th November 1914.
On 9th May 1915 at Rouges Bancs, France, Corporal Sharpe was in charge of a blocking party sent forward to take a portion of the German trench. He was the first to reach the enemy's position and using bombs with great effect he himself cleared them out of a trench 50 yards long. By this time all his party had fallen and he was then joined by four other men with whom he attacked the enemy with bombs and captured a further trench 250 yards long.
He received his Victoria Cross from King George V at Windsor Castle on 24th July 1915. He was then involved in a recruitment drive, visiting many parts of Lincolnshire, including Spalding and Bourne. He later returned to France and was seriously injured by a bomb. As a result he did not serve overseas again and carried shrapnel in his body for the remainder of his life. He later served in India and became master sergeant cook before being discharged in 1928.
Charles married Rose Ivy Sibley nee Cutting in 1936 in Bourne. Rose had been previously married to George Sibley who was in the Royal Navy and they had four children. George died in service, and Rose met Charles and they had three children – Elizabeth Ann (born 1933), Charles Norris (born 1935) and John William (born 1935), prior to getting married.
Charles returned to farm work with his father, but was later a gardener and physical education trainer at Hereward School Remand Home at Bourne. He served in the Home Guard in the Second World War and also at the town recruiting office. He was injured by a splinter when a bomb fell on the school. After the school closed, he worked as a council refuse collector and as a labourer and cleaner at the British Racing Motors firm in Bourne. His final job was gardener for the Bourne United Charities, where one of his duties was to tend the flowerbeds in the Garden of Remembrance.
Charles died on 17th February 1963 at Workington Infirmary, Cumberland from cerebral thrombosis as a result of a fall in his step-daughter’s (Mrs Dorothy Foster) garden in Stairburn. He was buried in Newport Cemetery, Lincoln. At the time of his death, he was the last surviving VC of the Lincolnshire Regiment.
In addition to his VC he was also awarded the 1914 Star with “Mons” clasp, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, War Medal 1939-45, George VI Coronation Medal 1937, Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953 and the Army Long Service & Good Conduct Medal. His medals were purchased at a Christie’s auction on 21st November 1989 by Chris Farmer, treasurer of South Kesteven District Council, for £17,000 on behalf of the community. They are held by the South Kesteven District Council in Grantham, and the medals are displayed in the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, Lincoln.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LINCOLNSHIRE LIFE MUSEUM, LINCOLN.
BURIAL PLACE: NEWPORT CEMETERY, LINCOLN.
Charles Sharpe's medals including VC at the Lincolnshire Life Museum, Lincoln
(Picture courtesy of Terry Cooling)
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT H, GRAVE 354