Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Worsnop
50th & 75th Battalions
Major Worsnop, who is heavy and strong in physique, was a source of strength to any forward line, and one of his most notable achievements was to kick off, catch the ball on the bounce, touch down, and kick the goal.
(Vancouver World, 31 Jan 1916, 2)
Born on 5 August 1879 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Charles Benson Worsnop was the son of British Colonel Charles Arthur Benson. Due to his connection with British museums of science and art, his father had travelled to Philadelphia for the 1876 Centennial Exposition and stayed for five years before moving to Canada. The younger Worsnop grew up in British Columbia and joined the 6th Regiment. A noted Vancouver sportsman, the six-foot-three Worsnop excelled as the city’s rugby captain and later team coach.
In May 1916, he enlisted with Lieutenant Colonel John Warden’s 102nd Battalion at the rank of major. Wornsop became second-in-command when the 102nd arrived to France in August 1916. He earned a Distinguished Service Order during the battle of the Somme. At the end of December, Worsnop transferred to the 50th Battalion, succeeding Lieutenant Colonel R. B. Eaton. His D.S.O. citation read:
For conspicuous gallantry in action. Although wounded he continued to direct the operations, and, when the attack was momentarily checked, went out into “No Man’s Land” under very heavy fire to re-organise his battalion. He was again wounded.
(D.S.O. Citation, 1 Jan 1917, 454)
On 11 March 1917, Worsnop took command of the 75th Battalion after Lieutenant Colonel Sam Beckett was killed in an aborted trench raid. He led the battalion through the battle of Vimy Ridge until he returned to England in mid-April. Unimpressed with Worsnop’s performance, Brigadier General Victor Odlum had replaced him with C.C. Harbottle. Worsnop commanded the 1st Reserve Battalion until the end demobilization.
He moved to California in 1928 and died in Los Angeles on 18 June 1948.