Francis is not remembered on the war memorial at Christchurch Park.
Born: 12th April 1919, Liverpool, Lancashire.
Died: 19th November 1941; age: 22; KiA in the fading light in the Libyan Desert – during the action of Operation: Crusader.
Residence: 51, Fonnereau Road, Ipswich.
Francis, having passed through Sandhurst took his commission in July 1939, with the 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars. Promoted to Lieutenant, on the 1st January 1941.
Rank: Lieutenant; Service Number: 95219.
Regiment: 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars, Royal Armoured Corps – ‘Desert Rats.’
Relatives Notified & Address: Only son of Richard Charles, O.B.E., F.R.C.S., and Mary Charles, of Ipswich, Suffolk.
Father: Richard Charles, O.B.E., F.R.C.S., born Christmas Eve, 1885, Cookstown, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. A Surgeon at the East Suffolk & Ipswich Hospital. During the First World War Richard was a Major/Surgeon-Specialist for the Royal Army Medical Corps.
Mother: Mary Charles (nee Horner), born June 1890.
Francis was educated at Aldeburgh Lodge School – a Preparatory School for Boys (in 1937, the school moved to Nacton, Suffolk and was re-named Orwell Park School). Francis then attended Uppingham School, before moving on to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
He was a fine sportsman, he carried everything before him in athletics, and at Uppingham School he was in the Cricket 11 and got his colours for hockey. He was also an accomplished tennis player. These sporting qualities and his charm of manner made him especially popular in his regiment.
Francis is remembered on the war memorial at Orwell Park School, Nacton, Suffolk.
Operation: Crusader – was launched on the 18th November with the objective to relieve the isolated British garrison at Tobruk. The 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars were part of the 7th Armoured Division, better known as the ‘Desert Rats.’
Extracts from Regimental diary:
The Regiment was ordered to move forward to meet this threatened attack on the track Gabr Saleh – Sidi Azaiz. In fact, this enemy force had moved practically South and, at about 1600hrs, the full force of the enemy attack developed on the position held by the Regiment.
When within 1,500yds of our position, they opened out to a certain extent and commenced to fire. Their shooting was very accurate and a number of our tanks were laid out before they came within effective range of our guns.
The battle was fiercely contested until dark and the Regiment prevented this attempt to break through our line. This was a good performance, particularly in view of the fact that the enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior.
Maj J C Vernon-Miller, Lt F R Charles and 2Lt G McCulloch were unaccounted for. The MO went out and made a determined attempt to bring them in, but the difficulties were too great and he was unable to find them.