Hewland, Charles James

Last updated on 02-Jun-19

Charles James Hewland


177A Sgt. Charles James Hewland was born about 1888 in Hull, Yorkshire, England to James Hewland and Mary Isa Hewland. 


His occupation was butcher and he spent three years with the 1st East Yorkshire Regiment.


Charles arrived at Fremantle on the SS Otway on 6th Feb 1912.


He was living on a farm at Brentwood in South Australia in 1914 and apparently enlisted in the army as there was a notice in the Police Gazette of a Charles Hewland deserting from the AIF at Oaklands on 8th February 1915. 


Charles was farming on Phillip Island when he enlisted on 11th April 1916 at Melbourne with the 3rd Division Cyclist Company.


He embarked Australia on the 18th May 1916 on SS Demosthenes and proceeded overseas to France on the 15th September 1916 and was allotted to the 7th Battalion which was manning trenches at Ypres.

“In late August, the 7th Battalion, with a frontage equal to just over half its authorised strength, was transferred to Ypres, in Belgium, where they manned trenches near the YpresCommines canal. During this time they were not involved in any major attacks, however, each night they sent patrols out into no man's land and established listening posts to gather intelligence.  On 30th September, the 7th Battalion, along with its sister battalion, the 8th Battalion, mounted a raid on the German line at Hollebeke with a force roughly equivalent to two platoons. The raid was a great success, with the Australians overwhelming the defenders and capturing a section of the German line and killing up to 13 Germans, before withdrawing.

In October, the battalion returned to the Somme where they spent the winter months manning trenches and training.”


Charles marched out to the Anzac Section, 3rd Echelon, British Expeditionary Force at Rouen on 6th February 1917 and was appointed Orderly Room Sergeant.  The 3rd Echelon’s role was to maintain all personnel and other records.War diaries were sent in every three months.  Each unit left its orderly-room sergeant as part of the 3rd Echelon, dealing with the men of their own units.  They took their instructions from Army Head Quarters.


Charles was transferred to the 39th Battalion and taken on strength on 31st January 1918 at The Catacombs in Belgium.


The battalion was involved in the German Spring offensive of late March, April and May.  The Germans realized their only chance remaining to win the war was to defeat the Allies before the Americans arrived.


Charles was promoted to Sergeant on 18th May 1918.


In August the allies began a counter-offensive against the Germans:


“When the Allies launched their own offensive – the Hundred Days Offensive – on 8th August 1918, the battalion along with the rest of the 10th Brigade, was serving as the divisional reserve and they did not participate in the advance that has since become known as one of the greatest days for the Allies on the Western Front. On 10th August, the battalion was committed to battle once more, undertaking an attack on the village of Proyart; but this attack was ill-conceived and ultimately failed.  Despite this, the battalion remained in the line throughout August and early September as the 3rd Division advanced through the Somme Valley.




Charles was Mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s despatch of 16th March 1919:


“For consistent good work and devotion to duty.  This N.C.O. has been with the Battalion since January 1918 and in February he was appointed Orderly Room Sergeant.  He has carried out his duties in a manner worthy of the highest praise.  His untiring labour and zeal under the most trying circumstances throughout and previous to the Somme fighting have been of the greatest value to the Unit.


He was recommended for gallant conduct in the operations at La Flaque and Proyart, August 10th where he rendered great service in directing wounded, collecting stragglers and continually volunteering for any job that arose. 


His initiative, resource and conscientious work has set an example to those under him which has greatly helped to maintain the efficiency of the Battalion.”


Charles was wounded in action (gas) on 25th August 1918 and was admitted to Graylingwell War Hospital, Chichester on 28th August.


He proceeded overseas to France on 30th October 1918 and rejoined the unit on 3rd November. He marched in to Codford from France 9th May 1919 and marched out to Scotland (duty) on 2nd June.


He returned to Australia on 11th October 1919 on the S.S. Adjana and was share farming at Cowes in 1919.


Charles married Ivy Amelia Slatter in 1920 and re-enlisted as a permanent member of the military in Victoria. He rose to the rank of Major with service no. VP7483.  No military records were available post First War.


Charles died on 27ndFebruary 1956 at St Kilda.  His ashes were scattered at The Necropolis, Springvale.