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Charles Richard Sharpe V.C.


Known as ‘Shadder Sharpe’, Charles was born and raised in Pickworth, being educated in Pickworth and Newton. His home was situated close to Old Hall Farm on the western edge of the village until he “took the king’s shilling” and joined the army at the age of sixteen.

As one studies his photograph, one can see a confident person: a man who has taken both charge and responsibility, a man who has been respected and listened to and latterly a man who has  deservedly been fêted for the bravery of his actions.

For his actions were indeed brave: he captured an enemy trench single-handedly and led a successful assault on another in the German lines near Rouges Bancs in northern France during the Battle of Aubers Ridge in May 1915.



The official citation published in the London Gazette on 29th June 1915 states –

‘When 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 determination
and effect, he himself cleared them out of a trench fifty 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.’

This account, however, misses much of the graphic detail of what actually occurred.
Being the only survivor of the initial part of the assault, for his commander had been killed,  Sharpe was in charge and led his colleagues across a misty and muddied battlefield. Armed with 30 hand grenades in pouches strapped to their uniforms his men were being shot down as they approached the German trench. Sharpe, similarly armed, found himself standing alone with the enemy running in all directions while his bombs took deadly effect. He took a fifty yard trench, was joined by four soldiers  from another regiment and attacked the enemy once more, this time by dint of the accuracy of their bombing taking a much larger trench of 250 yards.

While on two months’ leave, Charles received his V.C. from King George V on July 24th 1915 at Windsor Castle. He visited many places in Lincolnshire while away from his colleagues on the Western Front, taking part in a determined recruitment drive. On his return to warfare he became involved in front line action in Flanders.

Unassuming and proud of his rural Lincolnshire roots, our local hero said of his actions –

‘A British soldier will never glorify his own deeds. I only did my duty.’

Yet, seen in the light of the award of a Victoria Cross, Charles ‘Shadder’ Sharpe was a very special man indeed. The total number of Victoria Crosses issued in 1914 was a mere 47 and in 1915 this rose only to 117.   Compared to the total soldiers on active duty these were tiny drops of recognition in a massive ocean of bravery and loss.

Despite being badly wounded after his return to the front and carrying shrapnel in his body until he died, Sharpe continued to serve in the British Army. After a total of 25 years service he returned to his beloved Lincolnshire, working in both Grantham and Bourne. Touchingly, he was involved in tending the Cenotaph and War memorial Gardens in Bourne where the fallen from two world wars are remembered.

Charles Sharpe died in Workington, where he had gone to live with his step-daughter, having left Bourne some thirteen months earlier. Having suffered a fall he was admitted to Workington Infirmary where he died.
Following his death on February 17th 1963 he was buried at Newport Cemetery in Lincoln following a funeral with full military honours in St. Nicholas’s Church.

‘Shadder’ Sharpe was a true reluctant hero: unpretentious, unassuming and modest. Although in his fifties and too old for active service, during World War Two he returned to the army as a Master Sergeant Cook and also helped in recruitment campaigns. Despite his much-lauded  success, this winner of Britain’s highest award for valour continued to work for the good of the nation and her armed services.

Victoria Cross Newspaper item

The Victoria Cross

Newspaper  Item

In addition to the Victoria Cross, Charles Sharp was awarded the following medals:

The War Medal 1939-45
George Coronation Medal

1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal

The War Medal  1939-45

George V Coronation Medal

Elizabeth 2 Coronation Medal  

Elizabeth II Coronation Medal

Long Service and Good Conduct Medal  




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