Charley Leary

Information about birth

Year of birth:
Place of birth:
St.Annes, Newfoundland, Newfoundland and Labrador

General information


Army information

Newfoundland and Labrador
Canadian Expeditionary Force
Lance Corporal
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
 —  Royal Newfoundland Regiment, 1st Bn.  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Cairo House Post Madonna, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)

Distinctions and medals 3

1914-15 Star
Medal — 29/05/1919
British War Medal
Medal — 01/06/1920
Victory Medal
Medal — 01/06/1920

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 Place of death (approximate)

My story

Lance Corporal Charley Leary served in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment 1st Battalion. This unit was part of the 88th Brigade of the 29th Division.

On the 9th of October 1917, the 29th Division took part in the Battle of Poelcapelle. The general objective of this Battle was to gain the German Flandern I line behind Poelcapelle. The 86th and 88th Brigade participated in the attack, the 88th with the 4th Worcester’s and with the 1st Newfoundland Battalions in support. The ground was very muddy, due to heavy raining the days and weeks before the attack, but lead to a minimal amount of losses by German shelling.

The starting position of the 1st was between Japan House and Chinese House, near the Broenbeek River. The attack started at 5.20 a.m. by a creeping barrage, with the 4th Worcester’s just behind it. The crossing of the Broenbeek River proved to be a serious challenge for the Battalions. The 1st Newfoundland Battalion became mixed with the 4th Worcester’s by disorganization, which led to a subsequent lack of fresh troops for obtaining the final objective later on. The 1st wasn’t planned to attack until the 4th had captured the second objective. The first objective, Namur Crossing, was reached by the 4th Worcester’s and 1st Newfoundlanders before 7 a.m., due to a highly effective barrage.

Moving towards the second objective, the Newfoundlanders destroyed German concrete machine-gun posts near Pascal farm. By 9 a.m., the second objective had been taken, and the Newfoundlanders went through to the third objective.

The road from Poelcapelle to Houthulst Forest ran diagonally across the line of advance between the second and third objective. The Germans had converted farm buildings into blockhouses, such as Caïro House, alongside that road, that weren’t destroyed as planned by the tanks, who couldn’t advance due to the state of the ground. The barrage outdistanced the Newfoundlanders, which led to German counter-attacks, that led to many casualties. By midday, the Newfoundlanders had consolidated their holdings, with support of the Guards Division. The line was thinly occupied, because the Battalion fought over a greater distance than planned, which led to a loss of about thirty-five percent of its strength.

German counter-attacks were successfully halted, but due to heavy losses of the Guards Division, the Newfoundlanders had to pull their line 200 yards back, because of an unprotected left flank. The 2nd Hampshire’s relieved the 1st Newfoundland later that night.

We believe Lance Corporal Charley Leary fell victim to German shelling or counter-attacks during the Battle of Poelcapelle on the 9th of October 1917. He was killed in action not far from Namur Crossing and Caïro House, northwest of Poelcapelle. His grave was never recovered or his remains were never identified and Charley Leary is remembered on the Beaumont-Hamel (Newfoundland) Memorial in the Somme, France.

Files 1

Sources 6

"The Fighting Newfoundlander: a History of the Royal Newfoundland regiment", Nicholson G.W.L., London, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2006, pg. 393-397.
Sources used
"The Third Ypres Passchendaele. The Day-by-Day Account", McCarthy C., London, Arms & Armour Press, 1995, pg. 109-112.
Sources used
Further reference
Sources used
The Long, Long Trail
Sources used
War Diary Royal Newfoundland Regiment 1st Bn.
Further reference