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Dr/Col Charles Joseph Trimble

Charles Trimble was born in 1856 in Co Louth, and he moved to Bamber Bridge as GP by 1881.  He was active in the 5th Lancs RGA Volunteer corps from the late 1870s and by 1905 he was CMG and JP.  In1908 as Lt. Col. he established 2nd West Lancs RFA Territorials, with 11 Battery based in Bamber Bridge; this later became C/286.

In May 1915, about 100 men from Bamber Bridge enlisted in the RFA, undoubtedly due to the charismatic effect and energy of Dr Trimble.

On 22 July 1915, (aged 59) Dr Trimble embarked for France as Major and established a Field Hospital at Etaples, and became its OC and was later promoted to Lt Col. The hospital was bombed twice in May 1918 and so badly damaged it had to be dismantled and then in October moved to Trouville until February 1919.

In 1918 he was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath.

After the War, he became an Alderman on the County Council, and finally retired to Penwortham.  In 1942 he was made Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.  He died in 1944.

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Above. Col Trimble with Matron and Voluntary Aid Detachment nurses at Etaples c. 1916.  Trimble's two daughters, Hester and Bessie, were nurses there and are probably in the picture too.

Below. Photos of a ward after the bomb attack and an aerial view of the camp after the attack.

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The enemy first raided the hospital on May 19 and returned on the night of May 31-1 June.  During the second raid, one nursing sister, eleven patients and 4 orderlies were killed and several wounded, with many others suffering from shock.  The second attack left no department undamaged and rendered the hospital incapable of continuing. The decision was taken to move what remained of the hospital up the French coast to Trouville, where it operated from October 1918 to 1st February 1919.


At its peak, the hospital camp housed over 100,000 people and could treat 22,000 patients at any one time.

Given the appalling conditions and overcrowding in the camp, some people think that it may have been the source of the virus which caused the 1918 ‘flu pandemic, or at least of a significant precursor virus.

The Lancashire Daily Post - Friday, August 11, 1939


Preston Honour for Doctor-Soldier


Col. C.J. Trimble to Speak at Remembrance Festival


Distinguished military service is fittingly recognised by the invitation of Ex-Service Men’s Organisations of Preston to Colonel C. J. Trimble, of Penwortham, to be the chief guest and principal speaker at the Council’s second annual Festival of Remembrance at the Public Hall, Preston, on Sunday, November 13th.  In accepting the invitation, Colonel Trimble will perform the role undertaken last year by Sir John Singleton.

Now 84 years of age, Colonel Charles Joseph Trimble, Deputy-Lieutenant of the County, Justice of the Peace and a county Alderman, is hon. colonel (formerly commanding) the 88th (West Lancashire) Field Brigade, R.A.  His war service, however, was with R.A.M.C.




After the South African War, he was awarded the C.M.G. for his outstanding work, as Senior Deputy Commissioner of St. John Ambulance Brigade (No. 4 District) in raising and organising ambulance and hospital personnel.

Half of the hospital orderlies who served in South Africa came from St. John men in No. 4 District, the majority actually from Lancashire.

His hospital service in the European War, in France, earned Colonel Trimble the C. B.  He was also awarded the St. John tablet and gold medal for valour in life-saving - a decoration awarded so far in only ten instances.

This was for his bravery, as Officer Commanding the St. John Hospital, at Étaples, France, during severe air raids on May 19th, 1918.  He was constantly passing through the various departments and entrenchments of the hospital, encouraging patients and personnel and directing operations.




His coolness and disregard for his personal safety are described in the minute making the award.  He was wounded by a bomb bursting near him on one occasion.  On another, his personal assistance resulted in the extinguishing of an outbreak of fire caused by a bomb.

Colonel Trimble holds the St. John Ambulance long-service medal.  Application has been made for the 7th and 8th bars for this medal - marking his completion of 55 years’ St. John service.  He is No. 4 District inspecting officer on the staff of the Chief Commissioner.  

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