Charles Francis Albert NEEDHAM

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NEEDHAM, Charles Francis Albert

Service Number: 29989
Enlisted: 5 November 1915, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Gunner
Last Unit: 4th Australian Field Artillery Battery
Born: Burra, South Australia, 17 February 1898
Home Town: Parkside, Unley, South Australia
Schooling: Pulteney Street School and St Peter's College
Occupation: Bank Clerk
Died: Killed in Action, Belgium, 4 October 1917, aged 19 years
Cemetery: The Huts Cemetery, ​Dickebusch, Belgium
Memorials: Adelaide ES&A Bank WW1 Honour Roll, Adelaide Gilles Street Primary School WW1 Honour Board (Original), Adelaide National War Memorial, Adelaide St John's Anglican Church Memorial Tablet, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Burra District WW1 Honor Roll, Burra WW1 & WW2 War Memorial, Hackney St Peter's College Fallen Honour Board, Unley Arch of Remembrance, Unley Town Hall WW1 Honour Board
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World War 1 Service

5 Nov 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 29989, Adelaide, South Australia
3 Oct 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Driver, SN 29989, Australian Field Artillery - 116th to 120th Howitzer Batteries: AIF, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
3 Oct 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Driver, SN 29989, Australian Field Artillery - 116th to 120th Howitzer Batteries: AIF, HMAT Aeneas, Melbourne
4 Oct 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Gunner, SN 29989, 4th Australian Field Artillery Battery, Third Ypres

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Biography

From the book Fallen Saints 

Charles Francis Albert Needham of Parkside was born at Burra, South Australia and later educated at Pulteney Street School and the Collegiate School of St. Peter.

Before enlisting in Adelaide on 5 November 1915, Charles was a clerk with the Bank of Adelaide and had served a year in the 74th Infantry.

In early March 1916 he joined the 17th quota of reinforcements for the 9th Light Horse Regiment at Mitcham Camp as a provisional corporal but in April, transferred to the Field Artillery.  

Although initially posted to 120th Howitzer Battery as a Gunner on 31 August his rank was changed to Driver.

He proceeded to France on 19 April, arrived at Étaples the following day and when taken on the strength of 4th Battery, 2nd Field Artillery Brigade ten days later his rank changed back to Gunner again.

The 2nd Field Artillery Brigade of the 1st Division consisted of the 4th, 5th, and 6th Field Artillery Batteries (each with four 18-pounder field guns) as well as the Brigade Ammunition Column.

In April 1917, due to the standard issue of only ten rifles per battery, they were incapable of conducting their own defence and when the Germans penetrated the 1st Division’s left flank at Lagnicourt, the gunners withdrew taking their breech blocks and dial sights with them. 

Even though, the Germans had possession of 21 of the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade’s guns for two hours, the Germans, too busy searching dugouts for food and souvenirs, damaged only five.

The only option for all four batteries of the 2nd Brigade was to abandon their guns just as it was for the three batteries of the 1st Brigade shortly thereafter.

All guns were recovered and an order issued on 4 May from the Commander in Chief, increased the number of rifles allotted to each battery from ten to thirty six.

On 4 October 1917, just a year after sailing from Australia, 29989 Gunner Charles Francis Albert Needham, 2nd Field Artillery Brigade was killed in action at Westhoek Ridge, Belgium; he was 19 years of age.

His brother George, an Air Mechanic Class II in the Australian Flying Corps died of injuries on 23 April 1918 as a result of an aircraft accident.

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