Charles Grant TENNANT

Regiment:                Seaforth Highlanders, 4th Btn  

Rank & Number:     
2nd Lieutenant  

23 July 1882; Lowfell, Co. Durham  

                        09 May 1915; Aubers Ridge, France (killed in action)  

Commemorated Le Touret Memorial, France
                                Brother-in-law of Edward Forman

CHARLES GRANT TENNANT was born on 23 Jul 1882 in Lowfell, Co. Durham to parents James, a chemical and lead manufacturer and J.P., and Henrietta Grant Fergusson.  He was killed in action on 09 May 1915 at Aubers Ridge, France, the Largs and Millport Weekly News reporting that he “died while gallantly leading his platoon in the face of certain death”.  In a letter to his father James Tennant, Charles’ Commanding Officer describes his death:-  
    “I am exceedingly sorry to tell you that your son was undoubtedly killed in the attack of the
    ninth.  He had managed to make three rushes forward.  In the last rush there were only three
    left to rise and follow him, and they were all shot down, your son being the first to fall.  We sent
    a party up that night but it was impossible to reach his body & the fighting has been very heavy
    since, and it has been impossible to attempt farther.”  

He is commemorated on Le Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais, France, and on Fairlie War Memorial, Charterhouse School Roll of Honour and Trinity College, Cambridge Roll of Honour.  On 6 Oct 1917, the Largs and Millport Weekly News reported that a memorial window in Fairlie Parish Church had been dedicated in his memory.  

At the time of his death he was engaged to Miss Lucy Gibson Hilton, daughter of an American businessman, their engagement having been announced in the New York Times and the Largs & Millport Weekly News in October, 1914.   Educated at Charterhouse and Trinity College, Cambridge, on finishing his education he became a Director of the Tharsis Sulphur & Copper Co. Ltd., and of Alexander Fergusson & Co. Ltd., Lead Manufacturers.   

In the 1891 Census, Charles, aged 8, is living Dartmouth Lodge, Gateshead, Durham with parents James (39, chemical manufacturer, JP) and Henrietta (30), and siblings Janet RG (10) and Sheena LG (7) and servants  

In the 1911 Census, aged 28 and a clerk (lead manufacturers), he is living Fairlieburne, Fairlie with parents James  (59, chemical & lead manufacturer) and Henrietta (50, m 31 years, 6 children)    

At the outbreak of war in Aug 1914, he returned from the West Indies and applied for a commission.  However, becoming impatient of the delay, he volunteered as a Private in the Public Schools Battalion.  He was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant in the Seaforth Highlanders on 1st Oct 1914, and went to France on 5th Nov 1914.  His Commanding Officer wrote: “After less than four months soldiering his name was sent to the War Office for promotion to Captain; that fact shows what a born soldier he was.  On every occasion that we were under fire he was always the same, cool and collected.  He declined promotion, as he wished to remain with the men with whom he had trained.”

Extracts from the Largs & Millport Weekly News:-  

24 October 1914             

A marriage will shortly take place between Mr. Charles Grant Tennant, only son of Mr. and Mrs James Tennant of Fairlieburne, Fairlie, and Miss Lucy Gibson Hilton, youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs Joseph Hilton of Savannah, Georgia and Nyack on Hudson, New York State.  

7 November 1914           
Mr. & Mrs James Tennant left for Bedford on Tuesday to pay a hurried visit to their son, Lieut. C.G. Tennant, who is under orders to leave on active service with the 4th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders immediately.  

13 February 1915           

A very good photograph of 2nd Lieut. C.G. Tennant appeared in the Glasgow Herald this week.  His regiment (Territorial Seaforth Highlanders) has been commended for good work at the front.  

20 February 1915           

Lieut. C.G. Tennant had a short spell home from the front, arriving on Friday and leaving on Sunday.  He is looking extremely fit and well, and is full of praise for the way the troops are fed and cared for.  

8 May 1915                     
In the Post Office window there is on exhibition 4 noses of German shells picked up on the battlefield of Neuve Chapelle and sent home by 2nd Lieut. C.G. Tennant.  

22 May 1915
In The Fighting Line; Lieut. C.G. Tennant Killed:  Fairlie has learned with the most profound grief of the death in action, in France, on May 9th, of Lieut. C.G. Tennant, 4th Seaforth Highlanders TF, only son of Mr. James Tennant, Fairlieburne.  Letters received from his commanding officer and others, and also conversations with wounded surviving soldiers, show Mr. Tennant had died while gallantly leading his platoon in the face of certain death.  When he fell he was in advance, and all efforts to reach him were in vain, as the whole front was an inferno of shrapnel and machine gun fire, and practically the whole platoon was wiped out.  When the war broke out, Mr. Tennant was in the West Indies, but hurried home and at once applied for a commission.  Becoming impatient of the delay, he enlisted in the Public Schools Battalion, Middlesex Regiment as a private, but a few days later he received a commission in the 4th Seaforths.  After some weeks’ training he proceeded to the front with his regiment, and since November the Seaforth Territorials have done magnificent service.  At Neuve Chapelle their Colonel was wounded, and the casualties among the officers and men were very heavy.  Mr. Tennant was home for a short furlough about three months ago, and in spite of the terrible conditions of the winter trench warfare, was looking fit and well and a perfect specimen of a soldier.  To his father, mother, and sisters, and other relations, we express our deepest sympathy.  

6 October 1917               

Fairlie Parish Church; Dedication Of Memorial Window:  On Sunday morning last, a beautiful stained-glass window was solemnly dedicated to the glory of God and in loving memory of Charles Grant Tennant, 2nd Lieutenant, 4th Seaforth Highlanders, killed at battle of Neuve Chapelle, 9th May, 1915, only son of Mr. James Tennant of Fairlieburne.  After prayer, and reading of Scripture, the Rev. Mr. Allan, said:-   
  Dearly beloved in the Lord, for as much as devout and holy men, both under the Law and under the Gospel, moved by the Holy Spirit, or by the command of God, or by their own gratitude and thankfulness, have erected houses for the worship of God, and separated them from all ordinary uses, in order to fill men’s minds with greater reverence and that they might prepare their hearts with more devotion to approach God’s sacred presence, which pious works have, we believe, been graciously accepted by our Heavenly Father, let us not doubt but He will also approve this our godly purpose today of dedicating this beautiful window to His Glory, and in loving memory of one whom we all greatly loved, and who gave his life like his Master and Saviour before him, in the cause of humanity.  Words fail me to express what I should like to say regarding him whose death we mourn.  We miss him sadly.  We can never forget the last time he was home on leave from the battle front.  That beautiful Sabbath morning when, with dear ones, he worshipped with us here in his holy place.  He looked so manly, so brave and strong, so bright and cheerful, ready to make every sacrifice for God and country, for liberty and righteousness.  We prayed that he might be spared to come back; but it has pleased God to ordain otherwise, and to call upon him, with many other brave men we loved, to make the supreme sacrifice.  May our Christian faith help us to bear the loss.  We believe that for him “all is well”.  He has not passed out of the ranks of those who advance to victory, for his soul is marching on to higher and more glorious purposes, to new and nobler achievements in the Eternal Kingdom.  For us who remain, he will ever be a sacred memory a glorious inspiration, a new link in that golden chain which binds us to the Throne of God, a new influence to draw us upward, to keep our hearts aglow with love, to refine our feelings and purify our desires.  We believe that our beloved are still with us in heart and soul and spirit –    
   “We find our dull road their shining track,   
    In every nobler mood,   
    We feel the sunshine of their spirit glow,   
    Part of our lives unaltered good,   
    Part of our saintlier aspiration;   
    They come transfigured back,   
    Secure from change in their high-hearted ways,   
    Beautiful evermore, and with the rays   
    Of morn on their white shields of expectation.”   
Dearly beloved, God is speaking to us all, through the tragic experience of today.  By such glorious deaths our lives are being saved.  By the pouring out of their precious blood they have been crucified with Christ for the redemption of the world.  They show us Christ, and Him crucified, in a way we never realised before; and their death, like the death of Christ, will trans-figure our lives, if we will only live for that ideal for which they died.  Let us, then, with the help of God, go and emulate their bravery, their devotion, and their sacrifice; so that when we meet them again in a happier world, we may rejoice together with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Description Of Window     In the two main panels of the window there are two figures clad in armour, the one representing “Courage” and the other “Endurance”, while in the shield-shaped window above there are two angels bearing in their hands a golden crown.  The whole work was designed and executed by the well-known firm of Morris & Company, Merton Abbey, Surrey.

  Charles Grant Tennant (left) with his fellow officers, only
  one of whom survived the war:
(from left) 2nd Lt. G.W.
  Damon (killed 24/5/15); Capt. J. Cameron (survived);
  Capt. Sir J. Fowler (killed 22/6/18); Lt. C. Cameron
  (killed 11/4/18); 2nd Lt. P.B. McIntyre (killed 3/8/17)

                                                    Sketch by Charles Grant Tennant of the view from his trench


To:  J. Tennant, Esq.         

The King and Queen deeply regret the loss you and the army have sustained by the death of 2nd Lieut. C.G. Tennant in the service of his country.  Their Majesties truly sympathise with you in your sorrow.

Private Secretary

Buckingham Palace

                                             Window in Fairlie Parish Church in memory 
of Charles Tennant

           Charles Tennant (back, 5L) at Bedford, 5 Nov 1914

Profile Image ©
Window Memorial © Nick Grigg
Bedford photo Courtesy Kenneth Lavelle
Other Images Courtesy Fergus Boyle

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Fairlie Community Association SCIO
Scottish Charity No. SC028785