“Went in close to land rafts- hardly dropped anchor before the Turks had our range and were lobbing shells all round and over us, some only a few feet away- had to scoot further out of range. Afternoon, two boats of wounded, 30 came aboard (Hospital ships full) – some badly wounded, the boats looked like a butcher’s shop…” 160 Dvr. Percy Thompson
Not a typical day expected by a skilled driver of a team of horses and wagons……………..but as the following story reveals the Drivers of the 1st FCE were very much among the action and they would certainly make a name for themselves on the western front.
Scott Wilson a fellow writer, researcher and war history scholar has a number of stories published on WW1 veterans including an original member of the 1st FCE 160 Percy Robert Thompson. Scott has brought Percy’s diary’s and war experiences with the 1st FCE back to life in four chapters, Two of which have been reproduced here with his kind permission…. An excellent read.
211 Charles William Kewley was one of the tallest men in the company standing at 6ft 1 ½”. Charles, a tall Englishman, was born in Douglas, on the Isle of Man and had served in the Boer War in 1898, seeing service in South Africa and Somaliland. He had served a total of 12 years with the Royal Engineers in the British Imperial army.
When Charles enlisted in September 1914 he was nearly 36, an engineer and married to Kate Kewley( nee Ponting) and living at 386 Bourke st Surry Hills, NSW.
Charles with many years of military experience behind him was promoted to Sergeant prior to embarkation to Egypt.
On the 10th May 1915 Charles was wounded in the foot, the war record neither clear on the circumstances or the location, however he was transferred to Heliopolis and eventually transported back to Australia on board the “Horatio”. Also on board was fellow engineer Sgt. 34 Alexander Logan.
During the return journey home, his health was seriously compromised and Charles was ill with acute pneumonia. The vessel arrives in Melbourne on the 27th August 1915 and he was immediately transferred to the Base hospital in St. Kilda, Victoria and within a few days, on the 1st September 1915, sadly Charles dies from exhaustion and finally heart failure.
His wife Kate made a trip to the UK many years later in 1927 perhaps to see her family and the family and relatives of Charles and then returned to Australia. In 1937 she was still at the original address in Surry Hills when Charles enlisted back in 1914. It appears that Charles and Kate had no children during their marriage.
Coburg Pine Ridge Cemetery, Victoria, Australia
The following is the GWGC transcript relating to the Coburg Pine Ridge Cemetery……’ Country: Australia Locality: Victoria Identified Casualties: 191 Location Information Coburg is north of the city of Melbourne. The General Cemetery is in Bell Street, East Coburg, 6 miles from Melbourne. Historical Information There are now over 160 Commonwealth burials of the 1914-1918 war here and over 20 of the 1939-1945 war located throughout the cemetery.’
On this day Remembering – 211 Sgt. Charles William Kewley
Location on the Roll of Honour
Charles William Kewley’s name is located at panel 24 in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial (as indicated by the poppy on the plan).
Roll of Honour name projection
Charles William Kewley’s name will be projected onto the exterior of the Hall of Memory on:
Mon 28 September, 2015 at 3:15 am
Thu 26 November, 2015 at 10:32 pm
Mon 25 January, 2016 at 12:50 am
Wed 23 March, 2016 at 2:45 am
Tue 10 May, 2016 at 7:33 pm
Wed 22 June, 2016 at 1:22 am
Wed 3 August, 2016 at 7:00 pm
Wed 21 September, 2016 at 2:28 am
Sources: AWM, NLA, NAA,CWGC Certificate and transcript