- Born 22 March 1877 Stoke Davernel, Devon
- Died 26 August 1914, Le Cateau, France
- Occupation Army Officer (Captain Manchester Regiment)
- Debut 11 July 1904 v Cambridge University at The Mardyke
- Cap Number 256
- Style Hand unknown.
- Teams Cork County
Charles Trueman came from a military family with strong roots in the county of Lancashire. He and his younger brother both followed their father into the Army, his father having retired with the rank of Colonel. Charles was commissioned into the Manchester Regiment in 1897, and was involved in heavy fighting in the Boer War in South Africa, particularly in the actions in Transvaal in July 1900. Also involved there was Captain Herbert Woodgate, capped by Ireland as pace bowler, while stationed in Dublin in 1888-89. It may be mentioned here that three other cricketers, past or future Irish caps, also fought in the conflict: the brothers PA and WW Meldon, and the former Dublin University batsman, AM Porter, who died of typhoid in 1899, shortly after arriving in South Africa.
By 1904, promoted to captain, Charles was stationed in Cork, where he played for Cork County as an opening bat in that year and in the following season, in major matches against Na Shuler and Dublin University. Against the University at The Mardyke in the former season, he made a sound 34, as the County totalled 273, enough for them to win by an innings. He fell to the bowling of Edward Gibbon caught at the wicket by Stanley Cochrane. Somewhat unusually, the future impresario of Woodbrook cricket, held two catches in the County's innings. He was not the most of reliable of glovemen but kept regularly in 1904, when- as a batsman - he managed 27 runs in 24 innings, making only a handful of dismissals. As Gerard Siggins has noted, "A clue to the Trinity selectors' perseverance may lie in the fact that he personally acted as a guarantor for the fixture against the Australians in 1905 to the tune of £300." His record as a cricketer, was, however, marginally better than that of another millionaire who dabbled with the game. The captain of the Indian team which toured England in 1932, the Maharajah of Porbandor, had more of his own Rolls Royces on tour than he scored runs, He had three Rollers!
To return to Charles Trueman: he did less well against the University the following summer in College Park, in the match played just before the Cochrane financed Australian game. Facing a University first innings of 198, Charles was bowled for 0 by quick bowler John Lynch, who, like Charles was to make the Army his career - in the RAMC - and was not to survive the Great War. Lynch, whose pace would have been useful against the Australians over the next few days, had 8-23, six - if the scorecard is accurate - from slip catches by Jack Gwynn who had topscored with 84 in the hosts' first innings. County did much better in the second innings follow on. Charles made 25, caught by Gwynn off the left arm spin of Willie Napper, and thanks to a hundred by Sir Timothy O'Brien and good scores from Pascoe Stuart and Willie Harman, had no trouble in saving the match. Charles also appeared, this time at no 3, for the County in the Na Shuler match of 1904, but did little.
His one appearance for Ireland came about in rather bizarre circumstances and was obviously due to his being in the right place at the right time. Cambridge University came to Ireland in 1904, some ten days after the University match bringing nine of the side held to a draw by Oxford. They were to play at both The Mardyke and Rathmines. The hosts were weakened in Cork by no fewer than seven withdrawals from the original side. Three of the substitutions were at the last minute with local players, Charles, JC Hart and Stuart coming in. The last named became captain.
There were five debutants including - as original selections - GJ Meldon and - not before his time - the Leinster and former North Down wicket keeper, David Milling. They proved no match for their visitors being beaten by 5 wickets. Charles, batting first wicket down, was dismissed in both innings by Eric Mann. Eric was mainly a hard hitting middle order batsman who gained his Blue for three years, besides playing a few games for Kent and captaining MCC on their North American tour of 1905. He was an occasional fast medium bowler. 19 first class wickets in 43 matches, but in this game were too much for the somewhat makeshift Irish batting in the first innings. The hosts did rather better in their second effort, with Meldon and SC Smith both making 55, but though Cambridge lost 5 wickets, their target of 81 was too few. Ireland were back at full strength for the Rathmines match, with much happier results.
Charles was seen no more in Irish cricket after this season, his military duties taking him elsewhere. In August 1914, they took him to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force to withstand the full might of the German army as it stormed through Belgium and into France to implement the Schlieffen Plan. Charles took part in the Battle of Mons which had a crucial delaying effect on the advance. Then as the BEF withdrew, the Manchesters were one of the regiments involved when General Horace Smith - Dorrien decided, in contravention of Sir John French's orders - to make a stand at Le Cateau on the morning of 26 August. One survivor of the battle, John Lucy of the Royal Irish Rifles, noted in his autobiography, "It is said that, during the entire war, never were British troops so heavily outnumbered." In all the BEF suffered 7812 causalities that morning, killed, wounded or taken prisoner. Much worse was to follow on single days in the years ahead, but the effect of Le Cateau was devastating on several regiments. It was devastating also for the Trueman family, for Charles, unlike John Lucy, was not amongst the lucky ones. In military terms his death was not in vain. Le Cateau inflicted a further delay upon the German advance giving more time for preparation for the decisive battle of the Marne.
His younger brother Arthur Philip Hamilton Trueman played a lot of Army cricket and was a commanding officer of a battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers when, in 1916, suffering from shell shock he became first an instructor at Sandhurst and later commander of a cadet battalion in Devon for which he was awarded the OBE. He was, however, to die from pneumonia on 28 November 1918, after suffering the notorious Spanish Flu. He was 38. His wife, who was only 21, died on the same day.
Charles Fitzgerald Hamilton Trueman is now only a footnote in Irish Cricket History and a forgotten name among thousands of others who gave their lives in the bloodbath of 1914-18. He deserves to be better remembered.
Edward Liddle, February 2009, updated February 2015