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Charles Batchelor DCM

By Marg Powell, Specialist Library Technician, Metadata Services | 14 June 2014

Charles McEwen Hay Batchelor, saddler, was 24 when he enlisted in the A.I.F. on 19th August 1914. He was assigned as a Sapper to the 1st Division Signal Company and left Australia on the troop ship ‘HMAT Karroo’ in October later that year.

Sergeant Charles Batchelor

Charles Batchelor, 1st & 5th Division Signal Company. Image courtesy of the Batchelor Family.

The unit of 15 officers, 157 men and 78 horses disembarked at Alexandria early December and proceeded via train to Cairo and encamped at Mena in the shadows of the Pyramids. Here men and horses were set to work training and returning to fitness.

Australians in camp at Mena, Egypt, near The Pyramids

Australians in camp at Mena, Cairo showing the The Pyramids close in the background. The Queenslander, 1914-1918

On the 5th April 1915 as part of the Military Expeditionary Forces they embarked for Gallipoli.

Charles Batchelor was Mentioned in Despatches and also recommended for and received a Distinguished Conduct Medal for his efforts under heavy shrapnel fire on the 6th August, during the battle for Lone Pine. He was soon promoted to Corporal, but by late August he was evacuated to England, ill with dysentery.

When he regained his health, he re-joined his unit, now the 5th Division Signal Company at the training camp of Tel-el-Kebir, north of Cairo. In March 1916 Charles was promoted to Sergeant and his unit embarked overseas to serve in France.

In May 1916 he was rewarded for his distinguished service by receiving the Medaille Militaire awarded to allied forces by the French government.

His unit served in impossible conditions throughout the deadly winter of 1916-1917, where they not only fought the enemy but battled against mud, rain and frost-bite. Charles survived the winter but was evacuated sick to hospital in England in July, returned to his unit March 1918 and evacuated, seriously wounded by gas poisoning in May.

Charles returned to Australia in October 1918 and after a period of convalescence and rehabilitation re-joined civilian life. He married Ella Harle in 1922, developed a local leather merchants business - ‘Jolly and Batchelor’ and prospered in the years to come.

Thanks to Cheryl Batchelor for sharing the story of her Grandfather Chas Batchelor, DCM. If you have a Queensland WWI story to share, State Library would like to hear from you.

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Marg Powell, Specialist Library Technician, State Library of Queensland.


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