Charles was born in Hartlepool. His parents were John Robert and Jane Swales of Hartlepool. In 1911 he was aged 15 & employed as a horseman at Lartington. He lived with his sister Lily Adams (nee Swales) and her husband Thomas Adams.
He joined up from Carr House, Staindrop & served at Hartlepool during the bombardment in 1914. It is possible that Private Charles H Swales 30606 of the 1st Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, who died on 16th April, 1918, & is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial is the same person.