Charles Curtis was born in Wells, Somerset, in January 1894, one of fifteen children to Charles and Mary Jane Curtis. Charles Sr worked as a gardener in the Wells area, and, after leaving school, Charles Jr started work as a mill hand for the local paper mill (this would have been either St Cuthbert’s Mill in Wells, or the Wookey Hole Mill in the nearby village).
Charles enlisted in October 1915, joining the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was posted to France a month later and, while specifics of his military service are not readily apparent, Private Curtis was awarded the Victory Medal, the British Medal and the 1915 Star.
Charles was admitted to hospital on 1st November 1917 with an inflamed cervical gland (reported as Trench Fever), for which he underwent an operation. He remained hospitalised at Whalley Range for more than two months, and was passed for active service, having apparently recovered.
Private Curtis was suddenly taken ill again on 1st July, and his family telegrammed. His mother and one of his sisters boarded a train for the hospital – again in Whalley – but they had not gone far when word came that he succumbed to rheumatic fever. He was 24 years old.
Charles Curtis Jr lies at rest in the graveyard of St Matthew’s Church in the village of Wookey, Somerset.
A newspaper report of his funeral confirms that Charles was one of five brothers who had entered military service during the Great War. Amazingly, given that seven of the brothers ended up serving, Charles was the only one to die as a result of the war.