Charles Louis VAN WOUWE

VAN WOUWE, Charles Louis

Service Number: 996
Enlisted: 25 July 1915, Enlisted at Newcastle, NSW. However prior to enlisting, the Belgian Consul, Alexander Brown, had to attest on May 25th, that Charles was a Belgian subject registered at the Sydney consulate.
Last Rank: Driver
Last Unit: 8th Infantry Brigade Headquarters
Born: Cruybeke Antwerp Belgium , 1893
Home Town: Newcastle, Hunter Region, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Rigger at a Steel Works
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World War 1 Service

25 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, SN 996, Enlisted at Newcastle, NSW. However prior to enlisting, the Belgian Consul, Alexander Brown, had to attest on May 25th, that Charles was a Belgian subject registered at the Sydney consulate.
9 Nov 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 996, 30th Infantry Battalion, Embarkation roll : '16', Embarkation Roll number 23/47/1 Embarked at Sydney on HMAT Beltana A72 Part of 30th Battalion reinforcements
11 Dec 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 996, 30th Infantry Battalion
21 Jan 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 30th Infantry Battalion, Taken on strength by the 30th Battalion in Egypt
16 Jun 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 996, 30th Infantry Battalion, Embarked at Alexandrina bound for France aboard HMAT Hororata
23 Jun 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 30th Infantry Battalion
1 Jan 1918: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 8th Infantry Brigade Headquarters, Appointed as a driver for 8th Brigade HQ
1 Feb 1919: Embarked AIF WW1, Driver, SN 996, 8th Infantry Brigade Headquarters, Left France for England and arrived in Weymouth
8 Apr 1919: Embarked AIF WW1, Driver, SN 996, 8th Infantry Brigade Headquarters, Embarked on SS Trasos-Montes in England to return home.
25 May 1919: Involvement AIF WW1, Driver, SN 996, 8th Infantry Brigade Headquarters
11 Aug 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Driver, SN 996, 8th Infantry Brigade Headquarters, Discharged from Service

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Biography contributed by Greg Sharon

Charles enlisted, aged 22, as part of a large contingent of men from Newcastle that joined the 30th Battalion. At the time he was living at William St in Carrington.  Due to Charles’ nationality, the Belgian Consul, Alexander Brown, attested that Charles was a Belgian subject registered at the Sydney consulate. Charles was one of 73 Belgians who enlisted in the A.I.F.

He was taken on strength by the 30th Battalion when he arrived in Egypt. Shortly after arriving had back luck with his health for a couple of months and spent time in hospital at 3GH at Heliopolis and Tel-el- Kebiz.  As part of the 5th Division his Battalion finally left Egypt from Alexandrina on June 16 1916 aboard the HMAT Hororata.  They disembarked at Marseilles in France on June 23rd.  After arriving in France he had a bit of a chequered career with some minor offences resulting in confinement to barracks and field punishments.

The first major action that Charles would have been involved in was at Fromelles on 19 July 1916, when his Battalion supported the attacking troops by carrying ammunition, later they were committed to the fighting as the situation deteriorated.  This was less than 100km from where Charles’ father lived at Riyselmomde in East Flanders in Belgium.

Following this the Battalion was engaged mainly in defensive duties for the rest of 1916.

In early 1917 Charles’ Battalion entered Bapaume as part of a general advance that was following up a German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line so as to shorten their lines. After this the 30th took part in two main engagements in 1917, Bullecourt in April & May and Polygon Wood in September; on both occasions they were employed mainly in flank protection. The rest of their year was relatively quiet. During this time he had a couple of stints at 8th Brigade HQ, he may have been useful as a translator with prisoners as he could speak both Belgian and German.

Charles’ year in 1918 started off quietly in reserve and in January was permanently appointed as a driver to 8th Brigade HQ under Lance Corporal A. A. Cameron.  The Brigade was under the command of Brigadier General Edwin Tivey.  On 15 March 1918 Charles was charged with conduct to the prejudice of good order & military discipline when he trotted mules on a cobbled road contrary to orders.  As a result he forfeited 7 day’s pay as ordered by Captain C. Taplin.

As part of Brigade HQ, Charles would have taken part in the Spring Offensive.

Charles took leave from 20/7/18 to 10/8/18 so he missed the Battle of Amiens on August 8 1918 which was a resounding Australian victory, cementing the reputation of General Monash.

Charles would have been involved as his Brigade later took part in the Hundred Days Offensive which was part of the Allies general advance and they pushed their way to the Hindenburg Line defences around the Somme culminating in late September – early October 1918, when they took part in the Battle of St. Quentin Canal. Here a joint Australian and American force breached the Hindenburg Line.

Following this the Brigade was withdrawn from the line for a well-earned rest and at the conclusion of hostilities, the Brigade's constituent units were demobilised in early 1919. Charles left France for England and arrived in Weymouth on 1/2/19. He then went onto Hurdcott Military Camp and was attached to No. 4 Camp Depot. He returned to Australia aboard SS Trasos-Montes in April 1919.

For his service Charles was awarded 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal

 

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