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Soldiers of the Great War; The Fredericton Soldier Biography History Initiative

All explanatory text, archival descriptions, narratives, database headings, and navigation assistance on the web site of the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick are provided in both English and French. When content is extracted from a document for insertion in a database or to be presented as a facsimile, it is provided in the language of the original.

Bull, Charles Henry

Private 445113
55th Battalion, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island
26th Battalion, New Brunswick
Royal Canadian Regiment

Background

Private Charles Henry Bull was born on August 22, 1891 in Woodstock, New Brunswick to Helen Neales and Charles Bull. While both Charles and Helen were from the Woodstock area, however Charles was almost thirty years older than Helen when they married one another on June 27, 1888. Despite their age difference, they would have two children together, Julia Helen and Charles Henry. According to records, in May of 1892 both parents would contract pneumonia and pass away after a week with the illness leaving their young children in the care of family. The 1901 Census reveals that Helen and Charles would go to live in the care of their aunts, Rose and Julia, in Woodstock until they reached the age to be on their own.

Charles’ links to the Fredericton community likely began through his mother’s family, as he had an uncle, Rev. Dean Neales, and an aunt who lived there in addition to the family he had been living with in Woodstock. It is likely through these connections and his time with the local regiment that he met a young woman from Fredericton named Dorothy Clara Wandless. Dorothy came from a large family with brothers who would serve during the war. Charles and Dorothy would get married, just after the outbreak of war, on September 21, 1914. According to records, Charles had been employed as a chauffeur and grocer and would come to live at 350 Church Street with his wife. On September 18, 1915, Dorothy would give birth to a baby girl named Dorothy Helen Bull; however, Helen would never meet her father as he had already left for Europe.

According to his attestation papers, Charles formally enlisted for service in Sussex, New Brunswick on June 26, 1915 with the 55th Battalion. He had previous experience with the Royal Canadian Regiment and stood five feet eight inches tall with a medium complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair. Private Charles Bull would never return home to his family.

Wartime Experience

Charles travelled to Camp Valcartier with the 55th Battalion where his unit would leave from Quebec for England on October 30, 1915 arriving at Plymouth on November 9. Private Bull would spend all of 1916 in England with a variety of units training. At one point Charles was on a farrier course learning how to manage horses while in the field, in many ways the work that blacksmiths would be skilled at doing. By January, he was given information that he would be headed to the front soon as documents show that he would sign his formal will at that time naming his wife. On January 4, 1917 he was taken on by the 26th Battalion before shifting to the Royal Canadian Regiment and heading overseas by February.

While the time soldiers spent in the field varied greatly, it was common for many to become a casualty of the dangers they faced sooner rather than later in the trenches one way or another. After arriving with the RCR, Private Bull began preparations with his unit for the Vimy Ridge attacks that would come less than a month after his arrival. For Charles, it would truly be trial by fire as he would be thrown into a fierce fight without having any field experience on the front in weather that was cold, wet, and windy. As the Vimy Ridge Easter weekend attacks would begin soon, orders were given to commanding officers to relay to their units. Charles would soon learn that the RCR, already part of the 3rd Division’s 7th Brigade, would begin their attack at the center of the ridge, an area that was steeper than other parts with closer objectives. As zero hour came the morning of April 9, 1917 and the RCR went forward along with the PPCLI and 42nd Battalion, Private Bull went forward as well without hesitation. It would be here that Charles would be reported as missing never to be found again. Months would go by before information from witnesses in the field would report seeing Charles and many others nearby him killed instantly, “blown to pieces” by an enemy shell.

Official news of Private Bull’s death would not be reported in newspapers until mid-June as hopes of him being alive by his wife and family “were shattered by the telegram which came this morning”. Private Charles Henry Bull was 27 years of age, leaving behind his wife and daughter. After the shock of Charles’ death passed and the war was finally over, Dorothy would marry a gentleman named Clement Brencol in the fall of 1920.

Lest We Forget

Private Charles Henry Bull is remembered at La Chaudiere Military Cemetery, located at the foot of Vimy Ridge on the north-eastern side. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission there are 594 identified casualties.

*This biography was researched and written by Kyle Glabraith, Hailey Hyslop & David Nguyen, Grade 8 students (2015-2016) at George Street Middle School located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

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