In Memoriam: Charles Norton Levin

Photograph of Charles Norton Levin in uniform
Charles Norton Levin

Charles Norton Levin, (also known as Carl) of Gosforth, Northumberland, was killed in action in France on March 21st 1918, aged 27 years.

He was born at Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1891 and attended Bootham School from 1904 to 1908. At school he was in 1st XI cricket team and was interested in Natural History, in particular shells.  Charles joined the school’s Natural History, Literary and Polytechnic Society early in his time at Bootham and in the report of the Society’s Christmas Exhibition of 1905, printed in the school magazine, “Bootham” in February 1906, we read:

“The Exhibition of Natural History work is on the whole better than last year, and we may feel satisfied that the slight revival noticeable then has continued during the past 12 months. ……In Conchology there are four small collections by C. N. Levin, D. Eliott, Pumphrey, and Ashby, all of whom have kept note books, and should do well next year.”

 Charles became Curator of Conchology in the Natural History Society in 1906 and kept this role right through to 1908.

“Bootham” magazine of June 1906 reports on activities during the previous school term:


On the first Saturday of the term a small party visited Askham Bog, only to find the ponds much flooded and covered with half an inch of ice, so that only a few common shells could be obtained. Two visits towards the end of March were much more successful, though the ponds were still flooded; a number of shells, water-beetles and other aquatic creatures were obtained and have added much to the interest of the aquarium in the Natural History Room kept by C. N. Levin. The development of some frog-spawn found at Kirkham Abbey has been watched from day to day.”

As Curator, Charles contributed the report on Conchology to the Seventy-third Report of the school Natural Hiistory, Literary and Polytechnic Society, January 1907.


Much more work has been done this year than in 1905. Three fair sized collections have been made. C. L. Ashby shows a good collection of land and freshwater shells, consisting of fortythree species. A similar collection of forty-one species has been made by B. Pickard. C. N. Levin has added thirty-four species to his previous collection of freshwater and sea shells. The Ouse and Askham Bog have been the most productive fishing grounds for freshwater specimens; while the majority of the land shells were found at Castle Howard, which is also a very good hunting ground. C.N.L.”

“Bootham” of February 1908 includes The Seventy-fourth Annual Report of Bootham School (York) Natural Hlstory, Literary and Polytechnic Society, January 1908 :

“The Ornithological reports of E. B. Marriage, C. N. Levin, K. H. Brooks, B. Pickard, and R. B. Graham deserve mention They were the result of keen observation and much industry.”

“C. N. Levin and R. B. Graham both contributed valuable papers dealing with the Ornithology of the Lake District”

Conchology report:

“C. N. Levin, who has now taken up land as well as sea and freshwater shells, has obtained twenty-two new species, while B. Pickard has added to his collection twenty new species and twenty-one new varieties. The study of varieties seems to be quite new to Bootham collectors, and it is hoped that it will be continued. Great enthusiasm has been shown by collectors, and collecting tools, although cumbersome, have been carried round with great diligence. The chief hunting grounds in the neighbourhood of York have been Askham Bog, the Foss, Castle Howard, and Coxwold.”


Natural History Diaries:

“The number of diaries on Natural History subjects in the Show this year is greater than in any year since 1899. Of these 17, no fewer than 12 deal almost entirely with Ornithology, and all but one are illustrated. Apart from H. L. Green’s, which ranks first, and is mentioned in the Report for the O.Y.S.A. Exhibition, four of these stand out considerably ahead of the rest, namely those by Marriage, Levin, Pickard, and Graham. After careful consideration, C. N. Levin and R. B. Graham are bracketed first, for whilst Graham’s book is more readable, Levin has several original illustrations, including two photos, of nests and a useful summary.”

 In 1908, Charles was also Curator of Microscopy. He won prize for Microscopy in the school Christmas Show of 1907.

By spring 1908, Charles was in the school second XI football. The term’s football report states “Levin has been the best back”.

The June 1908 issue of “Bootham” reports that Charles was among a large number of Senior boys who passed the University Extension Examination in Modern History.  His last school cricket report stated:

“C. N. LEVIN.—Much to be commended for careful practice and consequent good progress as a steady batsman. Fair left-hand bowler.”

Charles went on to study Law and was a member of the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Incorporated Law Society.

Photograph of Charles Norton Levin
Charles Norton Levin

“Bootham” of June 1915, “Across the Months” suggests that Charles Levin was serving in the War in some capacity.

“ONLY a few additions have been made to the list of those serving their country in His Majesty’s Forces. . ………; C. N. Levin is somewhere in something”

By the March 1916 edition of “Bootham”, Charles Levin’s situation was confirmed.

“Bootham School War Lists.

Under Military Discipline :—

Levin, C. N., Second Lieut., 21st Northumberland Fusiliers (2nd Tyneside Scottish), France.”

“Bootham” of June 1917 reports, in “Across the Months”:

“C. LEVIN writes from France, where he has been for 17 months Light Trench Mortar Batt. Sec-Lieut, with acting rank of Captain.”

It was reported in the London Gazette of 1st January 1918 that Charles Levin had been awarded the Military Cross.

“Bootham” of May 1918 reports Charles as still with Light Trench Mortar Battery:

“O.Y.S. War-time Service Lists

Old York Scholars serving in the Navy and Army.

Levin, C. N., Capt., Light Trench Mortar Battery.”

And in same issue “Across the Months”:

“CARL N. LEVIN (1904-8) was slightly wounded. He calls it a tiny scratch ‘ ‘ that would not even have got me off Meeting.’ ‘ He is close to ” Bootham Trench. “”

However, the July 1918 issue of “Bootham” magazine reports:


LEVIN.—On the 21st March, 1918, killed in action in France, Carl Norton Levin (1904-8), aged 27.”

and the same issue has:

“In Memoriam

CARL NORTON LEVIN (1904-8). His father received the Whitsuntide card and wrote that Carl was reported missing March 21st. “It is to be feared that he was killed in action on that date.” His conduct was gallant and able, and the affairs of his Battery were left by him in excellent order. He was clearly looked up to by the officers and men of the Battery with very great regard.”

Captain Levin of the Northumberland Fusiliers is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France.

“LEVIN, Capt. Charles Norton, MC, 21st (Tyneside Scottish) Batallion, Northumbrian Fusiliers, attached to 102nd Light Trench Mortar Battery. Died 21st March 1918, Somme, Western Front, aged 27.”

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