Carl Ashley was born in Salford, the eldest son of Charles and Henrietta. When the 1901 Census was taken, the family was living at Helliwell Lane in the Cheetham area of Manchester. By then, Carl had a younger sister and brother, Annie and William.
He was educated first at the South Manchester School and later at Manchester Grammar School. He is commemorated on the Grammar School's Roll of Honour but, at the time it was first published for inclusion in the Manchester City Battalions Book of Honour fairly early in the War, he was amongst those wounded, rather than killed.
Charles Ashley was a successful dress manufacturer, able to afford to employ a live-in servant in 1901. By 1914, the family had moved from Cheetham and was living at "Dollis Hill", 2 Thornfield Road, Heaton Mersey. Carl was a pre-War member of the 6th (Territorial) Battalion and, whilst it is not known what he did for a living, many of its members worked in the professions in Manchester city centre or in "white collar" positions with the city's major cotton industry employers.
He was mobilised when War was declared in August 1914 and spent the first seven months in Egypt. Some details of this time can be found here. At the beginning of May 1915, the Battalion went into action at Gallipoli and suffered many casualties until the withdrawal from the failed campaign at the end of the year. Sometime during this period, Carl was wounded and was away from his unit for some time.
On the morning of 5 September 1917, the Battalion was in reserve positions at Toronto Camp, between the Belgian towns of Ypres and Poperinghe. However, this was no rest period as during the day, they undertook fatigue parties bringing supplies and rations to the Lancashire Fusiliers in the front line. Sergeant Robert Darbyshire kept a personal diary during this time which is now held by the Regimental Archives (which permits the use of the following extract):-
"Sept 5th Wednesday - nothing much doing until about noon when Jerry then started and put up a barrage on our trench. Most awful. Dick Griffiths with his section, 9 altogether, got a 5.9 shell to themselves and out of the 9 only two were living when we were able to get to them and 1 of these had both legs blown off and the other was wounded in about 40 places. Every bone in Carl Ashley's body was broken. Nick Carter had a hole in his stomach as a big as a dinner plate. Dick had the left half of his face and left shoulder & arm blown clean off and was unrecognisable except for the 2 stripes on his right arm. A more gastly (sic) sight I never saw & don't want to see again. This happened about 1pm & Jerry was still dropping shells into our trench however the shelling slackened off until about 9pm when he opened out again for about 15 minutes. So up till our report going in at midnight we had had 1 officer, 2 NCOs and about 30 men killed or wounded."
Regimental records published after the War show that 11 men were killed in action that day, including a William Carter (who was, presumably, known as Nick). Richard Griffiths is recorded as having died on 9 September. Presumably, Carl's death was not reported until the next day, as his official date of death recorded by the War Graves Commission is 6 September.