Charles Melvin King, lost his life 100 years ago today.
Named after his father, Charles Melvin was born on 15 July 1892. He was registered as “Charlie” in Virginia. His parents were Charles King and Alice Ann Menadue. His father was a teamster and built many roads in the area. Charlie was educated at the Virginia Public school.
Charles Melvin was 23 years old when he enlisted on 4 August 1915. Charles had spent one year in the Citizen Forces.
Charles sailed on the Oriana arriving at Alexandria on 21 March 1916 and then onto Marseilles, France. He developed influenza and was transferred to no.6 Convalescent Depot. Upon recovery he joined the 1st ANZAC Entrenching Battalion. He remained fighting there until he was killed in action on 5th November 1916.
The Battalion formed in La Motte, France on 6 June 1916. Entrenching battalions were advanced sections of the base depots where drafts could become inured to war conditions. For a time, all infantry reinforcements were drawn from this unit. Heavy losses at Pozieres in July through September 1916 caused all the infantry to be absorbed by fighting units and the entrenching battalion ceased to be employed this way. It then absorbed surplus tunnelling reinforcements and served as a tunnelling company with the Canadians at St Eloi, The Bluff and The Ravine (near Ypres). The battalion was disbanded on 20 October 1917.
In August 1917 his mother wrote that she was disappointed to receive only a few old letters and his pay book when his effects were sent to her. She then wrote that her son’s father was still alive and that the medals, scroll and plaque were to be sent to him at the same address.
Charlie was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He is commemorated on the Villers Bretonneux Memorial.
The following year his parents and sister inserted a notice in the Chronicle newspaper.
This is the day, so sad to recall,
This is the day of remembrance to all;
Dear is the grave where our dear one is laid,
Sweet is the memory that will never fail.
His brother inserted;
He sleeps till the last roll call
Along with the brave.
Too dearly loved to be forgotten
His sister, H E Roberts inserted
From memory’s page time can’t blot
Three little words, forget me not.
Chronicle Saturday 10 November 1917 p 13
Photograph from the Australian War Memorial H06515