Charles Gustav HOLDING

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HOLDING, Charles Gustav

Service Number: 1935
Enlisted: 2 February 1915, Ipswich, Queensland
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 25th Infantry Battalion
Born: Englesberg (Kalbar), Queensland, 26 May 1895
Home Town: Cloyna, South Burnett, Queensland
Schooling: Englesberg State School
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, Broodseinde Ridge, Belgium, 4 October 1917, aged 22 years
Cemetery: Bedford House Cemetery
Plot 3, Row C, 12.
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Boonah War Memorial, Kalbar War Memorial, Murgon Memorial Wall, Murgon RSL Honour Board, Murgon War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

2 Feb 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 1935, Ipswich, Queensland
16 Aug 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1935, 25th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
16 Aug 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 1935, 25th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Kyarra, Brisbane
31 Aug 1916: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 1935, 25th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières , Shell shock
14 Nov 1916: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 1935, 25th Infantry Battalion, Flers/Gueudecourt, 2nd occasion - GSW (left elbow)
4 Oct 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1935, 25th Infantry Battalion, Broodseinde Ridge

Narrative

Charles Gustav HOLDING #1935 25th Battalion

Charlie Holding was born at Engelsburg (now Kalbar) in the Fassifern Valley. There is no recording of his schooling and it would appear that the Holding family relocated from the Fassifern to Cloyna outside Murgon.

Charlie travelled to Ipswich to enlist on 2nd February 1915. He reported his age as 19 years and 8 months and stated his occupation as labourer. He had brought with him a note signed by his father, Thomas, giving his permission to enlist. Charlie also told his recruiter that he had been a member of the Cloyna Rifle Club for two years, along with his older brother Henry who was already in Egypt with the 9th Battalion.

Charlie was allocated to the 25th Battalion which was being raised at Enoggera as part of the 7th Brigade of the 2nd Division, however it appears that he was not included in the original enlistments but rather was allocated to the 3rd reinforcements. Charlie boarded the “Kyarra” in Brisbane on 16th August. There is perhaps some significance in his delayed departure; by the time the Kyarra sailed Charlie had then turned 20. During the early years of the war, it was not unknown for younger recruits to be kept out of the front line until they had turned 20 or 21.

Charlie’s file has no entries between August 1915 and 24th December 1915 when he was admitted to the Australian hospital at Mudros. Mudros was the main base for the Anzac forces on Gallipoli and it is safe to assume that Charlie had seen action on Gallipoli before being evacuated with mumps. Between January and March of 1916, the 7th Brigade having been successfully evacuated from Gallipoli with no loss of life remained in camp in Egypt preparing for the shift to the Western Front.

On 19th March, the 25th Battalion disembarked in Marseilles and proceeded by train to rear areas in the Armentieres sector of the front. Training and route marches continued through the early summer. In May, the battalion was put into the line for the first time. This was a very quiet sector of the front and the rotations in and out of the line took place without loss. In June the battalion was relocated to the area in front of the Messines Ridge in Belgium. On 28th June, Charlie took part in a trench raid which was very successful in capturing 4 prisoners and killing a similar number of the enemy without any serious casualties to the raiding party. This incident is recorded in Charlie’s file.

On 1st July, the Battle of the Somme began. The British “Pals” battalions of Kitchener’s New Army were cut down in swathes as they advanced into the German machine guns. In spite of losses of 60,000 on the first day, Douglas Haig pushed on. The newly arrived Australian divisions would soon be thrust into the Somme battles. For the 2nd Division, this came about after a shift from Belgium to the assembly areas around Albert. The objective for the 7th brigade was a German blockhouse built on the site of a ruined windmill at Pozieres. Survivors of Pozieres told of an unrelenting barrage by artillery which destroyed trenches and buried men or blew them to pieces. Charlie was lucky to survive Pozieres without a physical injury however on coming out of the line, he was treated for shell shock.

Charlie’s next major action was at Flers in November 1916. On 16th November 1916 the 25th was manning Switch Trench when Charlie received a gun shot wound to his left elbow. The wound was serious and Charlie was evacuated to England for treatment at the Beaufort War Hospital before spending time at various convalescent depots at Hurdcott and Perham Downs. It would be eight months before Charlie rejoined his unit in July 1917.

The 3rd Battle of Ypres (sometimes referred to as Passchendaele) began on 6th June 1917 at Messines. The 2nd Division of the AIF would go into action at Menin Road in September and again in October at the Broodseinde Ridge. On 4th October the 25th Battalion assembled on the jumping off tapes in front of the Broodseinde Ridge. At almost exactly the same time, the Germans had also planned a counterattack. Both sides followed their own artillery barrage up the opposite sides of the ridge. The ensuing hand to hand fighting resulted in an Australian victory at the cost 225 casualties for the 25th battalion; including 40 killed in action.

One of those killed was Charlie Holding. He was buried near Zillebeke. The only article of a personal nature returned to Charlie’s mother was a camera. In 1923, Charlie’s remains were exhumed and were reinterred at the Bedford House Cemetery near Zillebeke. During the exhumation, a coin of Indian origin which had been converted into an identity disc was located. The disc was returned to Charlie’s mother.

When the Memorial Plaque was sent to Charlie’s family at Cloyna, it was noted that his middle name had been spelt with an “E” on the end. It was decided to accept the plaque with the name misspelt.

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