Charles Bingham ELWELL MID

ELWELL, Charles Bingham

Service Number: Officer
Enlisted: 1 October 1912
Last Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Last Unit: Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force
Born: St Cuthberts, England, 13 September 1882
Home Town: Sydney, City of Sydney, New South Wales
Schooling: King's College, Parramatta
Occupation: Naval Officer
Died: Killed In Action, Rabaul, New Britain, Pacific Islands, 11 September 1914, aged 31 years
Cemetery: Rabaul (Bita Paka) War Cemetery, Papua New Guinea
AA A 11
Memorials: Crib Point RAN WW1 Roll of Honour (Panel 1)
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World War 1 Service

1 Oct 1912: Enlisted AIF WW1, Officer, Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force

World War 2 Service

1 Oct 1912: Enlisted

World War 1 Service

11 Sep 1914: Involvement British Forces (All Conflicts), Lieutenant Commander, Officer

The Late Lieutenant-Commander Elwell

"Lieutenant-Commander Charles Bingham Elwell was a son of the late Mr. P. B. Elwell, formerly electrical engineer to tho New South Wales Railway and Tramway Department. The deceased officer was lent to the Royal Australian Navy by the Imperial authorities, and returned to the Commonwealth as first lieutenant of the cruiser Melbourne last year. He afterwards joined the gunnery tender Pioneer, and at the beginning of 1914 was attached to the Royal Naval College at Geelong as skilled instructor. He then became Lieutenant-Commander. When the mixed force was lately sent away from Sydney Lieutenant-Commander Elwell was appointed to the command of the Royal Naval Reservists who went with it. He was an officer who was
Intensely popular with the cadets at Geelong and with his brother officers. He had a great charm of manner, and though quiet in speech was full of energy In action in work and games. The college boat's crew owes its efficiency to his coaching."

The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 September 1914.

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Biography contributed by Elizabeth Allen

Charles Bingham ELWELL was born in St Cuthberts, England on 13th September, 1882

His parents were Paul Bedford ELWELL & Elizabeth Jane Louisa THORNE who married in St Stephens Church in Wickenham on 9th October, 1879


Son of the Chief Electrical Engineer for the New South Wales Railways, Charles Bingham Elwell had emigrated to Australia with his family at the age of eight. He was educated at King's College, Parramatta, before joining the Royal Navy.

In 1913, Elwell was lent to the Royal Australian Navy and became first Lieutenant of the cruiser the HMAS Melbourne. He then joined the gunnery tender the Pioneer, before becoming gunnery instructor at the Royal Australian Naval College at Geelong at the beginning of 1914. At the outbreak of the war, Elwell requested to join the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force, the immediate task of which was to destroy the German wireless stations in the Pacific and to capture German New Guinea.1 

On 11 September 1914, Lieutenant Commander Elwell at the head of No. 6 Company Royal Australian Naval Reserves disembarked from HMAS Berrima at Rabaul. Elwell led a bayonet charge against German forces, whose position had been discovered by scouts at Bita Paka near Rabaul. Elwell, just ahead of his men, was suddenly and mortally wounded.2

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald described Elwell as "intensely popular" with both cadets and officers, charming, quiet and "full of energy".3 He was survived by two brothers in Queensland, and two sisters, one the wife of Commander Sussman, RN, and the other a "talented musician" in England.4 


1. "A Brave Officer Killed in Battle," Sydney Morning Herald, 15 September 1914, accessed 19/10/2015, (

2. "The First Fateful Shot: Proceedings of the Military History and Heritage Victoria Conference, Queenscliff/Point Lonsdale RSL, 2 August 2014, accessed 19/10/2014,  (

3. "The Late Lieutenant-Commander Elwell," Sydney Morning Herald, accessed 19/10/2015, (

4. "A Brave Officer Killed in Battle."