Charles (Charlie) COAD

COAD, Charles

Service Number: 3485
Enlisted: 10 July 1915, Bendigo, Victoria
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 57th Infantry Battalion
Born: Bendigo, Victoria, Australia, 1870
Home Town: White Hills, Bendigo, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, Fleurbaix, France, 19 August 1916
Cemetery: Rue-du-Bois Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix
Plot I, Row G, Grave no. 16, Rue-Du-Bois Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix, Bethune, Nord Pas de Calais, France
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Bendigo Great War Roll of Honor, Bendigo White Hills Arch of Triumph, Bendigo White Hills Baptist Church Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

10 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 3485, Bendigo, Victoria
29 Dec 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 3485, 21st Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
29 Dec 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 3485, 21st Infantry Battalion, HMAT Demosthenes, Melbourne
26 Feb 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 60th Infantry Battalion, Egypt
15 Mar 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 57th Infantry Battalion, Egypt
19 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 3485, 57th Infantry Battalion, Fromelles (Fleurbaix)
19 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 3485, 57th Infantry Battalion, Fromelles (Fleurbaix)
19 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 3485, 57th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières

Private Angus MacKay

From Meg Swann:

103 years ago today, 19/08/1916, our family lost Corporal William Quade SN 1155, 57th Bn. I was so pleased to fulfil a 50 year promise to my beautiful grandfather that I would one day find and visit him, and that I did in June. He was dearly loved, always remembered and will never be forgotten RIP.
Also remembered those who died with him:
Captain Frank Walter Harris SN 67, 57th Bn
2nd Lt Charles Clifford Denham St Pinnock SN 518, 57th Bn
Cpl William Roy Locke SN 3989, 57th Bn
Private Angus MacKay SN 2486, 57th Bn
Private Charles Coad SN 3485, 57th Bn
Private Frederick William Cook SN 4459, 57th Bn
Private Robert Samuel Crawford SN 3486, 57th Bn
Private William Charles Frederick Penna SN 3583, 57th Bn
Private Edmond O'Donnell SN 4559, 57th Bn

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Biography contributed by Jack Coyne

At the late age of 45 Private Charles Coad, Service No.3485, enlisted in Bendigo on July 10, 1915.  Charles had been born in 1868 at White Hills to Charles and Elizabeth Coad nee Eadie/Eddie. He was single, a labourer and as his father had passed away in 1908 his next of kin was his mother Mrs Eliza Coad and they lived together at Hamlin St, White Hills. His only sibling was a brother John had died earlier in 1900. 

He embarked from Melbourne 29/12/1915 with the 21st Infantry Battalion - 1 to 12 Reinforcements on HMAT Demosthenes A64.

After landing at Tel-el Kebir, Egypt in late February 2016 Charles was reassigned to the 60th Battalion on February 22nd and they were to spend 4 months training in Egypt. 

In mid June the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) embark from Alexandria for France with Charles and the 60th on HMAT Transylvania arriving in Marseilles on 23 June 1916.

Landing at Marseilles in Southern France nine days after leaving Egypt on June 23 would have been quite a change for Charles and the young AIF soldiers. “The harbour in spring was a beautiful site after our long stay in desolate Egypt” wrote Private Roy Ramsey of the AIF 3rd Field Ambulance. We all hoped for a few days in Marseilles but the authorities were reluctant to let us loose on the city, no doubt on account of our doubtful reputation earned in Egypt.”

The Australians journeyed by troop train up the Rhone valley heading for Calais, then eastwards to the western front in French Flanders, 200 km north of Paris. Estaples was their destination close to the Belgium border.  By mid August 1916, Charles was deployed to the heavily depleted 57th Battalion, which was, reeling from major loses incurred a month earlier in the ill-fated Battle of Fromelles.

The Battle of Fromelles, was planned by the British HQ with the intention primarily as a feint to draw German troops away from the Somme offensive further south. The attack was the début of the AIF on the Western Front and the Australian War Memorial describe the battle as "the worst 24 hours in Australia's entire history". Of the 7,080 B.E.F (British Expeditionary Force) casualties, 5,533 losses were incurred by the 5th Australian Division, which included Charle’s 57th Battalion. German losses were little more than 1,500. The Battle of Fromelles inflicted some losses on the German defenders but gained no ground nor deflected many German troops bound for the Somme.

Charles was killed in action at Fleurbaix on August 19, 1916.

The Red Cross reports confirm he was killed at the Battle of Frommelles on this day, when he was hit by exploding shrapnel that when a shell hit the parapet Charles was in. His fellow diggers who reported to the Red Cross said he liked to be called Charlie and he died fairly quickly.  

Fluerbaix is in Northern France and he was finally reburied at the Rue-Du-Bois Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix, Bethune, Nord Pas de Calais, France. Other reports state the Pioneers buried Charlie in a grave near a building known as the 'Rifle Villa'. The chaplan who signed his Field Service Death notice was the Rev G.W.B Statt attached to the 57th Battalion.

Charles mother was now alone and moved to live with a Mrs M.A Cameron at 218 Bridge st, Bendigo. In 1920 she again moved to 7 Gray st, Yarraville.

In August 1917, his personal effects were sent to his mother, including his wallet, some letters and a fountain pen. Following receiving these items, his mother wrote to the authorities asking whether his watch had been recovered.

She would later receive the Charles's 1914/15 Military star medal, the Victory medal and Memorial scroll.