Whitby High School

Battlefields Tour 22nd-25th March 2013

France - Vimy Ridge, Albert and Somme Tour - Monday 25th March

Bucquoy Road Cemetery, Ficheux

Bombardier Charles Royden

80135, "D" Battery, 18th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery

Died age 36 on 22 March 1918

Bucquoy Road Cemetery, Ficheux

This was a short stop on the road from Beaumont Hamel to Arras, still in the Somme area. The purpose was to visit the grave of Charles Royden, Great Grandfather of Mr M. Royden.

Charles was 33 when he joined up and was sent to Newcastle for 6 months for army training in the Royal Field Artillery. He was sent to France in June 1915 and was in action throughout the Front, including Belgium. His battalion was attached to the 3rd Canadian Division who needed support from heavy guns.

In March 1918 he was stationed on a small hill-top village called Monchy-le-Preux, a couple of miles to the east of Arras, the town they were defending. On the night of 21st March the Germans began their last major throw of the dice - Operation Michael - and attacked throught this sector of the front in a desperate attempt to overwhelm the Allies and secure victory. There were short term gains, but overall it was doomed to failure. However, in the early hours of the 22nd, the battalion war diary reveals they were under heavy shelling and in retreat. It is in this action that Charles probably lost his life. He was taken back to the Dressing station in Ficheux where he was buried. He left a wife and six children back home in Liverpool.

Bucquoy Road Cemetery, Ficheux

In November 1916, the village of Ficheux was behind the German front line, but by April 1917, the German withdrawal had taken the line considerably east of the village and in April and May, the VII Corps Main Dressing Station was posted near for the Battles of Arras. It was followed by the 20th and 43rd Casualty Clearing Stations, which remained at Boisleux-au-Mont until March 1918, and continued to use the Bucquoy Road Cemetery begun by the field ambulances.

From early April to early August 1918 the cemetery was not used but in September and October, the 22nd, 30th and 33rd Casualty Clearing Stations came to Boisleux-au-Mont and extended it. By the date of the Armistice, it contained 1,166 burials but was greatly increased when graves were brought in from the surrounding battlefields and from small cemeteries in the neighbourhood.

The cemetery now contains 1,901 burials and commemorations of the First World War. 168 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 23 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials commemorate 21 casualties buried by their comrades in Henin-sur-Cojeul German Cemetery, whose graves could not be found on concentration.

The cemetery was used again in May 1940 for the burial of troops killed during the German advance. There are 136 burials and commemorations of the Second World War; 26 of the burials are unidentified and special memorials commemorate 39 soldiers whose graves in the cemetery could not be specifically located. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

This map is an extract showing the Somme area. The numbers in circles represent Commonwealth War Graves. (The index for this is not shown). There are a staggering number just in this area alone. Charles Royden is buried in Ficheux which is numbered here as 100 (just south of Arras. Beaumont Hamel and Newfoundland Park are shown as 'Parc Memorial' north of Albert. Guards' Cemetery, Les Boeufs is no.28.

In Memory of
Bombardier C ROYDEN

80135, "D" Bty. 18th Bde., Royal Field Artillery

who died age 36 on 22 March 1918

Son of John and Elizabeth Royden

husband of Emma Royden,


160, Wellington Rd., Dingle, Liverpool

Native of Liverpool

Remembered with honour


Commemorated in perpetuity by
the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Anthem for Doomed Youth

What passing bells for those who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them from prayers or bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in the eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Wilfred Owen (1917)

Charles Royden R.F.A. (1881-1918)

For a more detailed biography of Charles Royden please click here (this will open in a new window, while this site will remain open).

Home    Top    back    forward   

Updated April 2013 by Mike Royden