Service Number: 428
Enlisted: 18 October 1915, Brisbane, Queensland
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 42nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 3 October 1890
Home Town: Bundaberg, Bundaberg, Queensland
Schooling: South Kolan State School, Queensland, Australia
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, France, 31 August 1918, aged 27 years
Cemetery: Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Biggenden Honour Roll, Biggenden Residents of Degilbo Shire War Memorial, Booyal Central School Fallen Heroes, Booyal Central School Roll of Honour, Booyal Fallen Comrades Honour Roll, Booyal Roll of Honor, Brisbane 42nd Infantry Battalion AIF Roll of Honour, Bundaberg War Memorial, Childers Memorial Hall (Isis District Pictorial War Memorial), Dallarnil District WW1 Honour Roll, Gin Gin War Memorial, Isis District Roll of Honour, North & South Bucca District Roll of Honor
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World War 1 Service

18 Oct 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 428, Brisbane, Queensland
5 Jun 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 428, 42nd Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
5 Jun 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 428, 42nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Borda, Sydney
31 Aug 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, 428, 42nd Infantry Battalion, Mont St Quentin / Peronne

How he got killed

He was fighting before a sudden moment he was shot in the head and dead in a matter of minutes

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Biography contributed by John Edwards

"...428 Corporal Charles Manderson, 42nd Battalion from Gin Gin, Queensland. A 25 year old labourer prior to enlisting on 18 October 1915, he embarked for overseas with B Company from Sydney on 5 June 1915 aboard HMAT Borda. Following further training in England, he proceeded to France to join the 42nd Battalion in November 1916. Cpl Manderson was wounded in action on 4 October 1917 and evacuated to England for medical treatment. After returning to his unit in France four months later, he was wounded in action again on 30 March 1918. He was again evacuated to England and returned to France on 26 July 1918. Cpl Manderson was killed in action on 31 August 1918 and is buried in the Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, France. Cpl Manderson's older brother 429 Pte Thomas Manderson also served with the 42nd Battalion and was killed in action in Belgium on 9 June 1917." - SOURCE (


Biography contributed by Ian Lang

#428  MANDERSON  Charles  42nd Infantry Battalion
The task of collating the lists for a war memorial such as the Degilbo Shire in the years immediately after the war was susceptible to occasional errors. When the lists for the Degilbo Shire Memorial were being created by the shire council, the name of Charles Manderson was incorrectly placed on the tablets honouring those who served and returned rather than the main tablet which honours those who gave their lives and did not return. This may be due to the fact that by the time of Charles’ death, his parents had left the district.
Charlie Manderson was born in Brisbane, the second son of Thomas snr and Jessie Jane Manderson. By the time he was old enough to attend school, the family had moved to the South Kolan district on the Burnett River. Charlie and his elder brother Tom both attended South Kolan State School.
The Manderson family were most likely engaged in farming and had taken advantage of new land being opened up with the construction of a narrow gauge rail line which ran from Childers to Dallarnil. From the extensive list of memorials that commemorate the brothers, it appears that both were well known over a wide area of the Bundaberg, Isis and North Burnett Regions.
Charlie Manderson presented himself for enlistment in Brisbane on 18th October 1915. He stated his age as 25 years and occupation as farmer. Charlie’s elder brother, Tom, enlisted eight days later. Both boys named their mother, Jessie Manderson of Tawah on the Isis branch line as next of kin. It is fairly evident that Charlie and Tom were very close. They were only a year or so different in ages and in all probability were each other’s closest companions growing up.
The boys were both placed into a depot battalion at Enoggera before being allocated to “B” Company of the 42nd Infantry Battalion. The recruits at Enoggera received intensive training for almost six months before embarking for overseas on the “Borda” in Sydney on 5th June 1916. Upon arrival in Southampton at the end of July, the 42nd marched out to the 3rd Division Training Camp at Larkhill on Salisbury Plain.
The 3rd Division was under the command of Major General John Monash, a newly appointed divisional commander with fresh ideas about training and preparations for battle. For Tom and Charlie, training continued in England, interspersed with periods of leave and a rare visit by the King, George V, who came down to Larkhill to see the Australians. Monash put on a huge parade. The King and the General sat astride their horses, chatting amiably, while taking the salute as over 22,000 men marched past in review.
On 25th November 1916, the men of the 42nd Battalion, along with the rest of Monash’s 3rd Division, crossed the English Channel and moved up to the front in the area around Ploegsteert and Meteren on the French / Belgian border. The winter of 1916/17 was bitterly cold and the 42nd spent a lot of time in front line as well as labouring in the rear areas. After the less than successful campaign by the British on the Somme in 1916, the focus of the conflict shifted north to the Ypres salient in Belgian Flanders. The Germans had established themselves on high ground which gave them a distinct advantage. For any assault to succeed, the Germans would need to be driven off the high points.
For some time, tunnelling companies comprised of men with mining backgrounds had been systematically driving tunnels under the German positions along a low ridge which stretched from just east of the Ypres city wall south through the village of Messines to Ploegsteert Wood. The tunnellers had loaded the galleries of their tunnels with thousands of pounds of explosives. These mines, 19 in total along the Messines Ridge, were exploded on the morning of the 7th June 1916, shattering the German defences and killing several thousand.
The 3rd Division troops had been specifically trained to take part in the offensive in Flanders. A large sand model of the Messines Ridge with lines of advance and brigade and divisional boundaries was constructed in the rear areas and every man who was to take part, including Charlie and Tom Manderson, inspected the model to be familiar with each battalion’s role. Once the smoke and dust had cleared, brigades from the 3rdand 4th Divisions, attached to the British 2nd Army assaulted the old German lines and dug in on the new positions. Two days after the opening of the Battle of Messines, Tom Manderson was killed during an artillery barrage. Charlie had the sad duty of writing to his parents about his brother’s death.
The 42nd remained in the Messines area for the next two months, rotating in and out of the line consolidating the gains made in early June. In the first week in August, the battalion was taken out of the line to prepare for the next operation in the Ypres campaign. On 28th August, Charlie was promoted to Lance Corporal.
With the Messines Ridge cleared of the enemy, the main thrust of the 3rd Battle of Ypres began with an assault on Anzac Ridge to the north of the Menin Road, followed soon after by an advance on Polygon Wood. By the beginning of October, it was time for the 3rd Division to re-enter the fray by taking part in an attack on the Broodseinde Ridge just south of the village of Passchendaele.
Charlie’s file records that on 4th October at Broodseinde Ridge, Lcpl Charles Manderson received a gun shot wound to the face. Charlie was evacuated to a casualty clearing station at Poperinghe. It seems that his condition was quite serious and it was determined that he could not be moved to a base hospital until he was fit to be evacuated. On 15th October, Charlie was loaded on to a hospital train to be admitted to the Canadian General Hospital at Etaples. The following day, he was carried aboard a hospital ship for transfer to the Middlesex War Hospital at Napsbury, England, where surgery was performed.
Following his operation, Charlie was transferred to the Australian General Hospital at Harefield to convalesce. On 6th November, he was granted a two week furlough after which he reported to the overseas training battalion at Sutton Veney Depot.
The period between December 1917 and February 1918 was a time for rest and consolidation for the AIF forces. There was very little fighting possible through the winter and it served no useful purpose to ship wounded men back to their units if they were not required. Consequently, Charlie remained in the 11thTraining Battalion at Sutton Veney until the first week in February when he crossed the channel and marched in to the 42nd Battalion billets in the Messines area.
While Charlie had been in England, major developments on the Eastern Front brought about by the Bolshevik Revolution had culminated in an armistice and then a peace treaty between Germany and Russia. With Russia then out of the war, the German Commander on the Western Front, Ludendorff, had as his disposal up to 50 divisions which, when moved to France and Belgium, gave his forces a distinct numerical advantage. However, the window of opportunity provided to Ludendorff would close in the latter half of 1918 once the United States Forces being raised and trained could be put into the field. The general consensus of the British Commanders was that a large German attack would occur in the spring of 1918 and would be directed at the Ypres salient. In anticipation of an assault in Belgium, The British Commander, Douglas Haig, positioned his best fighting force, the AIF, in a position to meet the threat.
The German assault, codenamed Operation Michael, began on the 21st March; aimed not the Belgian front but along the valley of the Somme River which was the arbitrary demarcation between the British and French Armies. The German storm troops rushed headlong at the weak British 5th Army which broke in the face of the advance. There was a real possibility that if the German advance could capture the important communication hub of Amiens, the British and French forces would be split and the Germans could wheel south to envelop Paris and win the war.
Faced with collapse of the 5th Army, Haig ordered that brigades of the 3rd and 4th Australian Divisions be rushed south to establish a line to defend Amiens. The 11th Brigade, under the command of Queenslander General Cannan, began a rushed journey south from Steenvordt to take up position in the triangle formed by the confluence of the Somme and Ancre Rivers. The Brigade war diary records that during the journey south, the battalions encountered French refugees fleeing in the face of the “Bosche”, as well as British soldiers who had broken and fled also.
When the 42nd Battalion and the other three battalions of the brigade arrived at their defensive positions between Heilly and Sailly-le-Sec on 24th March, less than 20 kilometres from Amiens, the situation was desperate. There were no trenches save for some overgrown and collapsed fortifications left over from the French. A large body of German troops had massed facing the Australian lines in preparation for an attack. Preluded by a stunning artillery barrage, the German attackers came in waves on the 30th March. Though dreadfully outnumbered, the men of the 42nd repulsed the enemy. Unfortunately for LCpl Manderson, he was wounded for the second time, again with a gun shot wound to the head.
Charlie’s evacuation followed almost the same route he had travelled five months before; Casualty Clearing Station, Hospital Ship and then admitted to the Bath War Hospital. A month after arriving at Bath, Charlie was considered to be fit enough to be discharged to a two week furlough. He was taken on by the training staff at Hurdcott to continue his convalescence. It was probably while at Hurdcott that Charlie had a studio photograph taken. In the photo, a copy of which is the Australian War Memorial archives (P10782.005) and is also included in Charlie’s details on the Virtual War Memorial website, the two wound stripes to which he was entitled can be clearly seen on his lower left sleeve. Though not as clear, it appears that his face shows a degree of scarring from his facial wounds.
The German advance was halted at Villers Bretonneux, within gun range of Amiens, on 25th April. By that time, the AIF had become the pre-eminent force on the Somme having taken to heart the special order issued by Field Marshall Haig known as the “backs to the Wall” speech. All five divisions were combined for the first time into a single corps and Lieutenant General John Monash was appointed corps commander. On 4th July, while Charlie was still at Hurdcott, Monash had a stunning victory at Hamel in a battle which would cement his fame as a brilliant planner and tactician. Such was the success of Hamel that Monash was charged with planning an even larger operation that would involve the five Australian divisions, three and a half Canadian divisions and several British divisions to protect the flanks. On 4th August, Charlie returned to his battalion in the support lines near Villers Bretonneux and was quickly briefed on the huge offensive planned for the 8th August.
The Battle of Amiens commenced before dawn on the 8th August with infantry advancing through fog and smoke supported by tanks, artillery and supporting aircraft. At the end of the day, the front had extended almost 15 kilometres and thousands of the enemy were taken prisoner, along with hundreds of artillery pieces, mortars and machine guns. Ludendorff called 8th August the “blackest day” of the German Army. Amiens would prove to be the beginning of the end for the German armies. The following day, Charlie was promoted to acting corporal.
After Amiens, the pace of the war moved into a higher gear. Monash’s plan was to pursue the German forces along the line of the Somme back to the Hindenburg Line. The Australian forces, close to exhaustion and severely under strength, continued to press home the advantage. By the end of August, Monash’s forces had reached the point of the Somme River where the stream takes a right-angled turn at Peronne. Peronne was an ancient fortress town on the bank of the Somme and was protected by a hill to the north, Mont Saint Quentin, which although only 100 metres high, provided commanding views of the valley below.
Peronne was the last viable position at which the retreating Germans could make a stand and Monash was determined to drive them out before they could establish defences. On the 30th August, brigades from the 3rd and 5th Division crossed the Somme to engage the defenders of Peronne while the 2nd Division of the AIF performed a remarkable capture of Mt Saint Quentin itself. Sometime during the following day, while still attempting to overcome the Peronne garrison, ACpl Charles Manderson was killed in action. There are no details available to cast any light on his death as no enquiry was made through the Red Cross or elsewhere. He was buried in the Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension. His headstone records his rank, name, number and unit. His family did not choose a personal inscription.
The Manderson parents had moved several times during the course of the war and the authorities had lost track of them. It was only in response to a notice in the “Courier Mail” that Thomas snr and Jessie received their sons’ medals and memorial plaques delivered to St Agnes via Gin Gin.