Charles Cassidy’s early life is a bit of a challenge to uncover. He was born in County Antrim, Ireland in around 1856, but there is little concrete information to identify his parentage or his movements before the late 1870s.
A newspaper report of his passing confirms that his military career began early. He joined the Somerset Light Infantry, and “saw active service in the Zulu campaign in 1879, and in Burmah 1885-1887.” [Western Times: Tuesday 15th February 1916]
In around 1890, he married a woman called Annie; she came from Wareham in Dorset, and the couple went on to have three children – Daisy, Charles and Margaret.
After completing his military service, Charles continued to work as a messenger for the regiment. However, when war came, he was called up again, acting as Company Serjeant Major in the Taunton Barracks.
Charles’ military service was not to be prolonged, however. On 13th February 1916, he was in the Sergeants’ Mess in the barracks, when he suddenly collapsed with heart failure, dying almost instantaneously. He was 60 years old.
Charles Cassidy lies at rest in St Mary’s Cemetery in Taunton, next to the barracks where he so readily did his duty.