Cedric Charles Dickens was the grandson of the writer Charles Dickens. He was a Major in the 13th London Regiment, Kensington Battalion.
On 9th September 1916, as part of the Somme offensive, the Kensingtons were in action near the village of Ginchy supporting The London Scottish.
Despite not having a prominent role in the battle the Kensingtons lost 15 officers and 282 other ranks reported killed, wounded or missing. Major Dickens is recorded as having sent this message, “2:12 PM. I have as far as I can find only 13 left besides myself. Trenches unrecognizable. Quite impossible to hold. Bombardment fearful for last two hours. I am the only officer left. Please send instructions." Cedric Dickens was killed sometime later that afternoon.
Enquiries by the Dickens family revealed reports by survivors that he had been buried near the spot where he was killed and a rough cross erected.
After the war, his mother Marie visited the site in 1921 and purchased the small piece of ground where it was believed her son was buried. She created a small memorial garden and erected a cross similar to the one in the photograph.
She continued to visit the site every year until the outbreak of WW2. She died in 1940. After the war an attempt was made to exhume Cedric Dickens’s body but his remains were never found. He is listed on the memorial to the missing of the Somme on the memorial at Thiepval.
The original 1921 cross was in a deteriorated state and was replaced by the present one. The original is in the village church at Ginchy.