Charles Albert (Alby) CORFIELD

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CORFIELD, Charles Albert

Service Numbers: S31798, SX12765
Enlisted: 6 March 1941, Clare, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: Not yet discovered
Born: Clare, South Australia, 24 January 1915
Home Town: Clare, Clare and Gilbert Valleys, South Australia
Schooling: Armagh School, South Australia
Occupation: Farm worker at Kybunga and Emu Flat
Died: Killed in Action, Egypt, 22 July 1942, aged 27 years
Cemetery: El Alamein War Cemetery
Plot XVI Row B Grave 18, El Alamein War Cemetery, El Alamein, Marsa Matruh, Egypt
Memorials: Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Clare Memorial Row of Trees, Clare WW2 Memorial Gates, Clare and District WW2 Roll of Honour
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World War 2 Service

6 Mar 1941: Enlisted Private, SN S31798, Clare, South Australia
15 May 1941: Enlisted Private, SN SX12765, Wayville, South Australia

‘Not lost but gone before, Ever loved by all’

Charles (Alby) was born in the mid-north town of Clare on the 24th January 1915 to William Henry and Maud Corfield. William was born in Worcestershire, England and married Miss Maude Goff, of London. With their first three children they came to South Australia in 1913. From initially living in Payneham, the family then moved to Clare, adding five more children to their household. Charles was one of eight children including Tom, John, William, Primrose (Prim) Nancy, Albert and Evelyn.
Charles’ father was a highly respected gardener who worked for the Victorsen family on their ‘Ingomar’ property at Clare, The Brooks family at 'Boconnoc Park' and eventually three years for Mr. S. G. Hawker on Belcunda Station. Not unexpectedly, William would often amass numerous prizes at the Blyth and Kybunga Shows with his annuals, including antirrhinums, aquilegias, bulbs, cinerarias, daisies, new or rare flowers, petunias and pelargoniums. He also supported his children’s local Armagh School by helping establish two large rockeries to help observe Arbor Day. Resultantly, he was asked to write a column on Gardening in the local Northern Argus in 1939 where he shared his knowledge of the seasons, fruit trees, bulbs and plants that best coped with the Clare frosts.
Just prior to Alby’s seventh birthday, when his father was fortunate to escape with minimal injuries following an accident in his hooded buggy. William and another horse drawn ‘cab’ collided at the Clare railway station crossing. An engine being shunted in the yard caused William’s horse to take fright resulting in the buggy overturning and becoming entangled with the other horse, the wheel removing skin and hair from the animal. Fortunately, both drivers were uninjured, but the buggy shaft was broken.
As a 13-year-old, Alby proved to be a talented runner in the annual Blyth District Hospital Annual Sports day where he came in a creditable second in both the half mile foot race and then the cycle race over the same distance. Post school, Alby became a farm worker at Kybunga and Emu Flat but also managed to play a serviceable game of football for North Clare.
The family faced another challenge when Alby’s married sister, Evelyn (Eyres) died in Clare on the 13th November 1930, leaving a husband and small daughter Rhonda to grieve.
Alby had joined the 4 Remount Troop with the Militia and was S31798 until his discharge in March ’41 to enlist to serve with the Army in WWII. He then became SX12765 and was allocated to the 2/48th Battalion. Enlisting the month beforehand was another local family, 20-year-old Keith Treagus, his 21-year-old brother Joseph Arthur and 23-year-old brother, Walter John who all enlisted to serve on the 19th February 1941. Keith became SX11350 and Walter SX11345 respectively with both being allocated to the 2/48th Battalion. Joseph, SX11349 was allocated to the 2/27th Battalion. Keith and Alby’s lives were to become inextricably linked.
By the time, Alby enlisted, his younger brother, Thomas Roy (Tom) had already joined prior to his 20th birthday, in July 1940 and was serving with the 2/27th Battalion as SX9700 and had returned home on leave when Alby enlisted.
Home for his first pre-embarkation leave, the residents of Armagh turned out in force at the local school Hall to entertain their local young men, including Alby. The Northern Argus again reported that ‘Armagh's record of sixteen boys offering their services for King and Country was a splendid one.’ Private Corfield was later farewelled in August at the Clare Town Hall by the Mayor who ‘congratulated him on the step he had taken in joining, up the A.I.F., and wished him a successful campaign. Mr. Bails said the Corfield family were doing their duty well, as another brother is abroad fighting for the cause of freedom. We owed a lot to the men like Private Corfield, who were playing their part in keeping the enemy from Australia. He wished Alby the best of luck and assured him the people at home were always thinking of their loved ones abroad. Mr. F. J. Barrett, speaking on behalf of the R.S.A., said he was not surprised at Private Corfield joining up as his father was an Englishman. As Diggers they took a pride in the younger men who were going away and would watch their progress and look forward to them coming home after the defeat of Nazism. Men like Private Cor field were setting a great example to those who were staying at home. The comradeship of his brothers in arms would be something he would remember all his life. He wished him the best of luck and a safe return to Clare. Mr. Les. Haysman said he had been associated with the Corfield family for many years and was glad to be present at the farewell. He wished Private Corfield the very best of luck and a safe return.’ Numerous presentations followed with parcels of comforts from the Soldiers' Presentation Committee, the Country Womens' Association, the Womens' Branch of the Agricultural Bureau, and Fighting Forces Comforts Fund. Alby thanked each of the organisations and the speakers for their kind words, adding that he hoped to meet many of the Clare boys abroad as well as securing a few souvenirs while overseas.
Conditions in the Middle East were totally different to the greenness and cool temperatures of the Clare Valley. Alby encountered dust, flies, heat, minimal water supplies and constant bombardment, all of which were quite a challenge to fresh new enlistees.
Alby was killed in action on the 22nd July, 1942. He was just 27 years old. Keith Treagus the other Clare local, yet to turn 22, died in the same battle. Their battalion was attempting to capture West Point in a dawn attack. In late June, 42 with Rommel crossing into Egypt, the 2/48th were in an offensive to capture Trig 33, which was achieved on the 10th July. In doing so, over 400 Italian prisoners were taken. The 2/48th battalion then advanced south, capturing the Tel el Eisa station and repelling numerous counter attacks. However, they were eventually forced to withdraw, having suffered over 100 casualties. It was during this attack that Private Stan Gurney was awarded the 2/48th Battalion’s first VC having captured two machine gun posts and bayonetting the gun crew firing on his company but was killed attempting to take a third. The 2/48th battalion suffered 215 casualties between the 7th July and 23rd October. Of that number, 64 men were killed and six, died of their wounds. 125 other men were wounded but survived.
In his book, ‘Tobruk to Tarakan’, John G. Glenn described the ferocious encounter;
‘When the troops were well forward of the start-line they came under terrific fire from shells and mortars from the front and left and suffered heavy casualties. With the slow deliberate movement of perfectly trained soldiers both companies continued the advance in perfect formation, over ground that trembled and erupted with vicious explosions. Through this, sometimes obscured by the smoke and dust, the men moved, and, as they advanced, the fire kept place with them, leaving behind the still shapes of fallen men among the camel bush and sand.’

The Chronicle on the 20th August, ’42 listed those who had died in battle or of wounds. From Alby’s Battalion the men were: Killed In Action SX13121 Pte. Reginald W. Charles Brown. 2/48th Whyalla. SX12765. Pte. Charles A. Corfield. 2/48th Clare. SX7166 Pte. Arthur R. Davis. 2/48th Rosewater SX5823 Cpl. G. E. Gay, 2/43rd, Woodville SX13018 Pte. Colin J. Hanley. 2/48th Port Augusta. SX8236 Pte. Gerald J. Hayes. 2/48th Wirrabara SX6297 Pte. Donald S. Ridley. 2/48th Loxton SX11052. Pte. Walter M. Shane. 2/48th Spalding. SX8315 Pte. Robert O. Sunman. 2/48th Port Augusta. SX11021 Pte. Lindsay H. Thorpe 2/43rd Woodville Died Of Wounds SX8087 Cpl. F. W. Fletcher, 2/48th Aldgate SX8454 Cpl. Arthur A. A. Harding. 2/48th Peterborough.
The Advertiser and local Northern Argus and Blyth Agriculturalist carried the announcement “CORFIELD. —On July 22, killed in action in Egypt, Private Charles Albert Corfield, A.I.F., dearly beloved son of Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Corfield, of Mt. Bryan, formerly of Clare; also beloved brother of Private Tom Corfield, A.I.F.; of Mr. W. H. Corfield, jun., of Hilltown; of Mrs. Walter Blight, Hill River, Clare; and Mrs. Nancy Worrall, of Unley. We will remember.’ In the same edition was a tribute to Keith Treagus. Sgt. Keith E. killed in action July 22, fourth beloved son of Clara and William Treagus, of Karkoo, late of Undalya, and loving brother of Phyllis (Mrs. A. Waters, Stanley Flat). He gave his life for those that loved him. Aged 21 years 11 months.’ The two young Clare Valley men were forever together.
The two local papers carried the same tribute: ‘ARMAGH SOLDIER KILLED IN ACTION FLAG FLIES AT HALF-MAST AT CLARE TOWN HALL FOR PRIVATE C A. CORFIELD. Advice was received in Clare this week by Mr. and Mrs. Walter Blight, of Hill River, that Private Charles Albert Corfield, aged 27 years, had been killed in action in Libya or Egypt on July 22. He was born on the 24th of January 1915 and was one of three sons and two daughters of Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Corfield, who formerly lived in the Clare district, Mr. Corfield occupying several positions as head gardener to a number of district people. They now reside on Mr. Stanley Hawker's 'Belcunda' Station at Mt. Bryan. The late Private Charles Albert Corfield joined a remount unit on March 14, 1941, transferring as a volunteer to the A.I.F. on August 6, 1941. Therefore, he had only been in the forces 12 months when he gave his life for his King and Country. He was a member of the Church of England. It was in the month of August last year that the Armagh Presentation Committee gave Albert Corfield a presentation, and in our report of the fixture the chairman stated: — 'It is unique for Armagh to have two presentations in a week.' They were firstly to Private C. A. Corfield and secondly to Aircraftsman J. S. Cormac. The deceased soldier was a student at the Armagh Public School all his schooldays, and was employed by Mr. R. N. Jones, of near Kybunga and Emu Flat, when he enlisted. A brother, Private T. R. Corfield, recently returned with A.I.F. units from the Middle East campaigns and is now at a battle station somewhere in the Near North. Another brother —Mr. W. H. Corfield, Junior, lives at Hill Town. A sister is Mrs. Walter Blight, of Hill River; another sister, Mrs. Nancy Worrall, of Unley; and one sister, Evelyn, is deceased. The Australian flag was flown at half-mast on the Clare Town Hall mast on Tuesday, when it was learned of his death in action fighting the battles of his country.’
His family placed a thank you in the local paper. Blyth Agriculturist Friday 11 September 1942, Mr. and Mrs. Corfield and family wish to thank all friends for cards, and letters of sympathy in the loss of their son and brother killed in action. Will all please accept this as a personal expression of gratitude.
Alby was initially buried in the El Alamein British Military Cemetery before being re-buried in April ’43. He now rests in the El Alamein War Cemetery in Plot XVI Row B Grave 18. He is surrounded by others from his 2/48th Battalion including 27-year-old SX8315 Private Robert Sunman, 24-year-old SX8259 Private Lindsay Earle, 41-year-old SX7801 L/Cpl Edward Smith, 32-year-old SX127 Lieutenant Frank Threadgold and 23-year-old SX8230 Private Ronald Clemens as well as others from the 2/2nd and 2/23rd Battalions. His parents chose the inscription ‘Not lost but gone before, ever loved by all’ for his headstone.
Less than three years after Alby’s death, his 58-year-old father William died on the 28th of May ’45 in the Clare and District Hospital and was buried in the Clare Cemetery.
Clare continued to remember those who had served. At the Anzac service, conducted on the 22nd April, 1951 350 people crowded into the Town Hall where over 50 returned service personnel paraded. Afterwards they walked to the Clare Soldiers’ Memorial gates where wreaths were placed before magnificent plaques were unveiled on both pillars of the memorials. The WWII carried the names of the 26 who had paid the ultimate price, with 13 being listed on each plaque. They were: R. M. Aitken R. E. H. Hope S. T. Bocian W. K. Hope D. J. Bond W.S. Jenner R. G. Bowley P. G. Maher J. D. Clark K. R. McKinnon C. A. Corfield M. Morrison L. F. Dack J. W. Ohlmeyer D. W. Ferguson H. Page K. A. Gericke R. C. J. Pawelski D.R. Gilchrist D. G. Prisk P. P. M. Gillen T. L. K Przibilla R. Henderson J. C. Sangster L. R. Hicks G. C. Scott. A fitting and enduring tribute. Last Post and Reveille was sounded by Bugler Peter Pargeter and then Padre Bond recited the following words: — 'In the Faith of Jesus Christ, we dedicate this Roll of Honor to the Glory of God and in memory of His faithful servants, In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.' This was followed by the Pledge of Remembrance.
Almost 10 years to the day after Alby’s death, his mother Maud died on the 3rd July 1952 aged 73. She is buried with her husband in the Clare Cemetery.
Alby’s family continued to remember him.
Advertiser August 1942, CORFIELD. —On July 22, killed in action abroad. Pte. C. A. Corfield. beloved brother of Nancy and brother-in-law of Colin, and loving uncle of John and Colleen. We will never forget. CORFIELD. —On July 22, killed in action in Egypt, Private Charles Albert Corfield, A.I.F., dearly beloved son of Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Corfield, of Mt. Bryan, formerly of Clare; also beloved brother of Private Tom Corfield, A.I.F.; of Mr. W. H. Corfield, jun., of Hilltown; of Mrs. Walter Blight, Hill River, Clare; and Mrs. Nancy Worrall, of Unley. We will remember.
Northern Argus Friday 23 July 1943, CORFIELD — In loving memory of Alb., killed in Egypt, July 22nd.,1942. A light is from our household gone. A voice we loved is stilled, A vacant spot within our heart That never can be filled. Inserted by Mother and Father, Mt. Bryan. CORFIELD. — In loving memory of Alb., killed in Egypt, July 22, 1942. 'Memories are things, no one can still, Death leaves a heartache None can heal.' Inserted by Sister Prim, and Walt, and nieces Margaret and Ngaroma, and brother Tom (A.I.F.) CORFIELD. — In loving memory of Alb., killed in action at EL Alamein, July 22nd, 1942. So sadly missed and ever remembered by John and Kath.
Northern Argus Friday 21 July 1944, CORFIELD. — In loving memory of Alb., killed at El-Alamein, July 22nd, 1942. He wore no shining medals Or signed him name V.C. He died a dinkum Aussie To keep Australia free. Always remembered by his loving brother, Tom.
Advertiser Saturday 22 July 1945, CORFIELD. —Memory of Alb. killed in action. El Alamein. July 22. 1942. There's a road called remembrance, where thoughts and wishes meet. —Ever remembered by his loving brother Tom. CORFIELD. —In loving memory of our son. Charles Albert, killed in action El Alamein. July 22. 1942. Life moves on but memory stays. —Ever remembered by mother and father. CORFIELD. —In loving memories of Alb. killed in action July 22. 1942. Beautiful memories, dearer than gold, of a boy whose worth can never be told. — . Ever remembered by Nancy, Colin, R.A.A.F. and children.
Northern Argus Thursday 25 July 1946, CORFIELD. — In loving memory of my dear son, Alb, who was killed in action at El Alamein, July 22nd 1942 Leaves of memory softly fall, for my son, who gave his all. Inserted by his loving Mother.
Northern Argus Thursday 24 July 1947, CORFIELD—Tribute of remembrance to my beloved brother Alb., killed in action, El Alamein, July 22nd, 1942. I often think of you Alb. I often speak your name, But all there is to answer us Is your photo in a frame. Inserted by loving brother Tom.

Blyth Agriculturist Thursday 21 July 1949, IN MEMORIAM. CORFIELD—Tribute of loving remembrance of my brother Alb., killed at El Alamein, July 22nd, 1942. Seven sad years have passed away Yet love and grief remain. In life he was so dear to us, In death he's just the same. There is no separation from those we love, No distance can divide For to-day in memory's garden We still walk side by side. Ever remembered by his loving Mother, and Brothers Tom and John, and Sisters Primrose and Nance.
Researched and written by Kaye Lee, daughter of Bryan Holmes SX8133, 2/48th Battalion

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