Chester Trelease travelled many thousands of miles in his short life: from Cornwall, to London, to Australia then France. He was one of many young men who signed up from Redruth, Cornwall, who was associated with Redruth Wesleyan Chapel and the Young Men’s Bible Class.
Though he stated in his enlistment papers when he joined up in Western Australia in 1916 that he was born in Michigan, USA, in fact he was born in north Cornwall in 1889. (His brother Wilfred was born in Michigan in 1886 while his Father, Thomas, was working in East Vulcan as a miner but the family returned to Cornwall before Chester’s birth).
Chester, Wilfred, his sister Lottie and his mother continued to live near Liskeard after his father’s death in 1901.
But in the early 1900s, the small Trelease family moved down towards the mining centre of Cornwall – Redruth and Camborne. And there Chester became a member of Redruth Wesleyan’s Young Man’s Bible Class forging friendships that lasted even though he left the town in his late teens.
By 1911, he had set off up to London to train as an apprentice compositor (setting type) in Harrow. and in April that year was lodging with his first cousin, Thomas Charles Ellyatt who worked on the railways.
But his brother, Wilfred, left Cornwall for America in September 1911 to seek his fortune (like many other Cornishmen at the time) and perhaps that encouraged Chester to leave England, too.
Two years later, in 1913 he emigrated to Australia. He ended up in a remote mining town Murrin Murrin, 549 miles east of Perth, and worked as a labourer. Perhaps he was drawn back to the mining life he knew with his father. Murrin Murrin is now a ghost town.
While he was at the Front he remembered his old friends at Redruth Wesleyan and in February 1918 wrote a letter thanking them for the Christmas gift of a wallet. Click here to read more.
Four months later, he was dead. He was killed on 1 June 1918 along with 26 others in his battalion when a bomb was dropped near the village of La Houssoye in the Somme, as they returned from the Front. He, and his companions, are buried at Franvillers, France.
Chester is also remembered with his mother Elizabeth (Bessie) on a gravestone at St Euny Church, Redruth.
At Redruth Wesleyan Chapel he is remembered on plaques inside, and outside, the chapel which commemorate the young men – former members of its congregation, who were killed in WW1.
In France, Chester Trelease is buried at Franvillers cemetery extension, used from April to August 1918 by units and field ambulances engaged in the defence of Amiens. It contains 248 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and five German graves. The extension was designed by W C Von Berg.