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We Remember ... Heroes of the Faith at St. Michael's - Charles Thomas Coombs

29 May 1856 - 28 September 1921

Charles Thomas Coombs was born on 29 May 1856 in Westminster, London to James Thomas and Mary Frances Coombs. He was a printer. He married his wife Louisa Margaret Seaton in Peckham on 10 September 1887. Their four boys were: Charles Stanley born in 1888, Leslie Howard born in 1890, Ralph Thomas born in 1892 and Frank Maurice born in 1896.

In May 1911, Charles Coombs moved to 13 Burnaby Gardens, Chiswick with his wife and four sons from Dulwich where he had been Churchwarden at St John’s. Charles immediately threw himself into the life of the new parish. In September he joined the Church Council (the forerunner of the PCC) and was elected Sidesman. The next month he became Secretary of the CEMS (Church of England Men’s Society), an influential group in the Edwardian Church, and at the Easter 1913 Vestry he was appointed Peoples Warden.

During the First World War, in the absence of the Vicar, who was a Chaplain to the Forces, and his fellow Warden, Quartermaster Sergeant Percy Singer ‘practically, … the guidance of the parish was left in his hands.’ It was a traumatic time for Mr and Mrs Coombs. Two of their four sons were killed in France in two terrible weeks in July 1916. Frank had just joined the London Rifle Brigade and was killed on the first day of the month. Leslie, who was a Private in the 10th Royal Fusiliers (the Stock Exchange Battalion) was injured shortly after and died of his wounds 12 days later.

Charles Coombs continued to serve as Churchwarden until his sudden death on Michaelmas Eve 1921. The Memorial window in the Sanctuary was dedicated on Palm Sunday 1922. It shows St John, the Patron Saint of Charles Coombs’ old Dulwich church.