Harold Charles HOWDEN MC, MC*


HOWDEN, Harold Charles

Service Numbers: 1452 (1552 on Attestation), 1452
Enlisted: 22 December 1914
Last Rank: Major
Last Unit: 48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Preston, Victoria, Australia, March 1890
Home Town: Northcote, Darebin, Victoria
Schooling: Northcote School, Melbourne, Victoria
Occupation: Dental demonstrator
Died: Shrapnel wound to neck, Ploegsteert, Belgium, 5 July 1917
Cemetery: Trois Arbres Cemetery
Plot I, Row U, Grave No. 17
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World War 1 Service

22 Dec 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 1452 (1552 on Attestation), 13th Infantry Battalion
11 Feb 1915: Involvement Corporal, SN 1452, 13th Infantry Battalion
11 Feb 1915: Embarked Corporal, SN 1452, 13th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Seang Choon, Sydney
11 Feb 1915: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 13th Infantry Battalion
10 Jun 1915: Wounded AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 1452, 13th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli, Septic wound to hand
10 Jun 1915: Promoted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 13th Infantry Battalion
20 Jan 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 13th Infantry Battalion
3 Mar 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 45th Infantry Battalion
12 Mar 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Captain, 45th Infantry Battalion
13 Feb 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Major, 45th Infantry Battalion
19 Apr 1917: Honoured Military Cross, Battle for Pozières , Near Pozieres, Captain Howden took over on the night of 5th August, 1916, an isolated position of the front line during a heavy hostile artillery bombardment; being warned by the Officer whom he relieved that he could expect a counter-attack at daylight he immediately set to work to strengthen his position, and when the counter-attack took place on the morning of the 6th, was successful in repulsing it. Owing to his thorough consolidation, that portion of the line, notwithstanding an incessant bombardment, was successfully held.
4 May 1917: Transferred AIF WW1, Major, 48th Infantry Battalion
21 Aug 1917: Honoured Military Cross and bar, Flers/Gueudecourt, For gallantry and devotion to duty in reorganising and carrying out two attacks on an enemy’s strong point and trenches at Gueudecourt on the morning of 21/2/17 and night of 22-23/2/17. Owing to the abnormal wet state of the trenches these attacks were carried out under great difficulty and the success of both attacks was largely due to Captain Howden’s organising ability and attention to details. On both occasions, immediately the trenches were captured, Captain Howden took charge and organised their defence. As a result of both operations nearly 500 yards of enemy’s trenches were captured and held, and 60 prisoners taken.

Major Harold Charles Howden (M.C. and Bar)

Posted by ww1research, Thursday, 14 August 2014

"I asked if he was hit and he replies "Yes" and got up walking towards me. After taking five or six steps he suddenly became very pale and collapsed. I undid his tunic and saw blood pouring in great quantities from a small wound just below his collar bone. A small shell fragment had passed up beneath his collar bone severing the large blood vessels situated there ... he lived for about an hour and retained consciousness until the end, surrounded by his friend. I never saw a man die so bravely ..." (letter from Captain A. J. Collins, France, 3.10.17)

Major Harold Charles Howden was a son of Charles Alexander Howden, Shire of Preston Councillor for the Central Riding for many years and a successful real estate agent in High Street before removing the business to Collins Street, Melbourne.

Howden was an exemplary serviceman, enlisting as a humble Private and promoted through the ranks to Major, along the way being awarded the Military Cross and Bar for bravery before dying of wounds at Steenwerck, France on 5 July, 1917.

His death attracted more attention in the Preston Leader than any other, almost a full column of tributes. Parents Charles Alexander and Lily Margaret Howden (nee Thomson)

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