Lt-Col. Charles Green, 1919-1950
Lt-Col. Charles Green, 1919-1950

How Charles Green reached rank of Lieutenant-Colonel at 25

THE North Coast area has sent many of its finest overseas as soldiers.

Most have returned to take up civilian life afterwards, some with disabilities and most with memories which have changed their lives for ever.

One of our finest soldiers was born in Grafton on 26 December 1919, not long after the First World War had ended. His name was Charles Hercules Green.

Charles was the second of three children born to Hercules John and Bertha Green (nee Deville). Charles' father had a dairy farm at Swan Creek and he loved helping his father on the property.

He attended Swan Creek Public School and later attended Grafton High School.

As a young lad he persuaded his father to allow him to undertake contract ploughing and road-building. It is not known whether this was with the family draught horses or whether other horses were purchased.

He was an enthusiastic sportsman, especially as a cricketer and horseman.

However, it was the army which especially appealed to him.

A short time before his 17th birthday, in October 1936, he enlisted in the local militia, the famous 41st Battalion.

By 1938 he had the rank of sergeant and in March 1939 he was made lieutenant.

On the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 he transferred to the A.I.F. and was posted to the 2nd Battalion.

He soon found himself in the Middle East and later in Greece where he was lucky to escape as the Germans took over the country.

Charles found a way via the Aegean Islands and Turkey and back to Palestine.

Many others could thank him for their escape. His calm authority gave men confidence and they followed without question.

In 1942 the 2nd Battalion was posted back to Australia, destined for the New Guinea campaign.

By this time Charles had been promoted to Major.

However, he was not to go initially but was sent as instructor to the Army's Tactical School at Southport.

He was to spend several months there before returning to his Battalion.

During this time he went home to the family farm. While there he married Edna Olwyn Warner on 30 January 1943 at the Ulmarra Anglican Church. In July 1943 he rejoined the 2nd Battalion and went with it to New Guinea as second in command.

In March 1945 he was given command of the 11th Battalion with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He was 25 and the youngest Battalion Commander in the Army. For his courage and concern his men are said to have respected him and trusted his judgment completely. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

When the War ended he returned to Grafton and obtained work as a clerk with P.D.S.

In his spare time he studied accountancy but maintained his interest in the army by returning to the local Militia. By 1948 he was commanding the 41st but in January 1949 he decided to join the Regular Army.

After a Staff College posting he was sent to Japan to bring the 3rd Battalion to combat readiness.

He led the Battalion in three major battles in Korea and was awarded a US Silver Star. While resting in his tent he was killed by a stray shell on 1 November 1950, aged 30. He is buried in the U.N. Cemetery, Busan, South Korea.



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