DUNSDON, Charles Edward
|18 August 1914, Brisbane, Queensland
|4th Field Company Engineers
|Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, 27 March 1885
|Toowoomba, Toowoomba, Queensland
|Middle Ridge State School, Queensland, Australia
|Killed In Action, Pozières, France, 9 August 1916, aged 31 years
No known grave - "Known Unto God"
|Corinda Sherwood Shire Roll of Honor, Graceville War Memorial, Toowoomba Roll of Honour WW1, Toowoomba St Luke's Church WW1 Honour Roll, Toowoomba War Memorial (Mothers' Memorial), Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)
World War 1 Service
|18 Aug 1914:
|Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 3, Brisbane, Queensland
|22 Sep 1914:
|Involvement Lance Corporal, 3, 3rd Field Company Engineers, Battle for Pozières
|22 Sep 1914:
|Embarked Lance Corporal, 3, 3rd Field Company Engineers, HMAT Geelong, Melbourne
|25 Apr 1915:
|Involvement AIF WW1, Sapper, 3, 3rd Field Company Engineers, ANZAC / Gallipoli
|9 Aug 1916:
|Involvement Lieutenant, 4th Field Company Engineers, Battle for Pozières
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Biography contributed by Faithe Jones
Charles Dunsdon was born in Toowoomba to Edward and Elizabeth Dunsdon in 1885. As a boy he attended Middle Ridge State School in Toowoomba and given that he also enlisted in Toowoomba it is reasonable to assume that he spent most of his life in that town.
Charles enlisted on the 18th August 1914 and must have been one of the first volunteers to enlist in Toowoomba when recruitment began. He was given the regimental number of 3. At the time of his enlistment he gave his address as South Street, Toowoomba and named his brother Walter of the same address as his next of kin. Both parents were deceased.
Charles gave his occupation as draftsman, and with such a background was posted into the 3rd Field Company Australian Engineers. His unit embarked in Melbourne on the “Geelong” on 22nd September 1914; barely one month after he enlisted. When one considers the travelling time from Toowoomba to Melbourne, training would have been seriously curtailed. Upon arrival in Egypt, the engineers were tasked with constructing the camps and associated infrastructure to house the soon to arrive Australian troops.
The War Diary of the 3rd FCAE gives a graphic picture of the type of work being performed by the sections in preparation of the landings at Gallipoli. Maps were being produced in different scales (no doubt Charles’s drafting skills were useful) and a transport ship had been designated to carry stores and materials when they landed on the 25th April 1915. The diary has no entry between the 21st April and 1st May; which is indicative of the frantic work being carried out by the engineers in those first few days.
The engineers were employed in making bombs out of jam tins, pegging out and digging trenches and saps, laying wire entanglements as well as more mundane tasks such as providing drinking water and erecting shelters for headquarters staff. The construction of Watson’s Pier by Signals Captain Watson and 2nd Field Engineers was a further example of the vital work performed by engineers in those first few months. While on Gallipoli, Charles was promoted to corporal on 16th May and to staff sergeant on 26th July.
Charles was evacuated to the #2 Australian General Hospital on Mudros Island on 9th August (which coincided with the series of failed offensives at the Nek and Suvla) with pleurisy. He returned to the peninsula on 24th September.
After the evacuation of Gallipoli the Australian forces in Egypt went through a period of reinforcement and expansion. Charles went off to officer training and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 5th March 1916. His unit was shipped to Marseilles in June 1916 and during the voyage, Charles was promoted to Lieutenant.
Field Engineers followed the infantry to the Armentieres sector of the western front and when Haig called the Australian divisions south to the Somme for the assault on Pozieres in July and August, the engineers followed.
On the 9th August in the vicinity of Sausage Gully, Charles was fatally wounded. Accounts collected by the Red Cross some months later vary but it is fairly certain that Charles and Captain Riddell were consulting a map when a high explosive shell landed nearby. Charles was struck in the neck by a piece of shrapnel and died almost immediately, Riddell was also injured. Some Red Cross accounts reported that Charles had been buried near where he fell and a wooden cross with his name engraved was erected, either by men from his own unit or a company of pioneers.
The ground around Pozieres would continue to be a battleground for another month, and would again be fought over during 1918. When the Imperial War Graves Commission began to consolidate scattered burials at the conclusion of hostilities, no trace of Charles’s grave was found. Charles’s brother Walter moved from Toowoomba to Kew Street, Graceville soon after Charles was killed; and it is no doubt for this reason that Charles is commemorated on the Graceville War Memorial erected in 1920.
Charles was also eventually commemorated on the panels of the Australian National Memorial at Villers Bretonneux when construction began in 1933. The National Memorial was officially dedicated by King George VI and contains the names of over 10,000 Australians who were killed in France and have no known grave.
On the site of a windmill in the village of Pozieres today is a commemorative stone which reads:
“The ruin of the Pozieres windmill which lies here was the centre of the struggle on this part of the Somme Battlefield in July and August 1916. It was captured by Australian troops who fell more thickly on this ridge than on any other battlefields of the war.”
Courtesy of Ian Lang