Carl Adolf Max Bingen– an Englishman with a German name

Early life & familyCarl was born in the summer of 1895, the son of Max and Leily Bingen. His father was German**and a bank manager, and his mother came from Brixton. He, his parents and younger brother Eric lived at a number of addresses in Hampstead – in 1901 at 21 Inglewood Road, in 1911 at 4 Kidderpore Gardens, in 1916 at 14 Briardale Gardens, and in 1921 at 95 Canfield Gardens, NW6.

Carl went away to school as a boarder at Cheltenham College (in 1911 he was aged 15), and then to the Ecole de Commerce in Neuchatel, Switzerland. He became a bank clerk, and it may be that he had ambitions to follow his father’s career.

War serviceCarl joined the 5th (Cinque Ports) Battalion of the Territorial Force. After the War was declared in August 1914, his unit was called up and became the 5th Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regt. At about this point he started to be called “Charles”. What do you think life would have been like for him with a German name?

The battalion went to France in January 1915, providing reinforcements during the Battle of Aubers. That August it was re-formed as a Pioneer battalion and took part in several of the Battles of the Somme in 1916 – at Albert, Bazentin Ridge, Pozieres Ridge, Ancre Heights and Ancre. Carl became a Lieutenant – probably responsible for a Platoon of over 50 men.

Death & commemorationThe work of the Pioneer battalions was important to the war effort – and it was also dangerous, as it involved moving beyond the protection of the trench system. Unfortunately Carl was killed in action early in the Somme campaign, on 10 Feb 1916 (age 20), after 13 months in the field.

Carl is buried at Hebuterne Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais (grave ref: IQ 16)(see photograph), and is also commemorated in Hampstead on the War Memorial in Church Row.

Praise from his Commanding Officer

In a letter to Carl’s parents he said:

“None of my officers was cooler under fire than your boy, and none more ready to undertake cheerfully any duty, however disagreeable and irksome. He was liked and respected by all ranks, and was most popular with the men of his Company, his Captain and Adjutant. We all admired his pluck and good spirits.”

** See also the paragraph ‘ Few foreigners’ under the topic ‘Women doing men’s jobs’.

This page was last updated on November 24th, 2014.

Top of page