Courtesy of Pakenham Upper Community Church Hall
Private Charles Henry Warner +
Pakenham & District War Memorial, Pakenham Upper Roll of Honour & Pakenham Upper State School Honour Book
Born: 7 July 1886 - Melbourne, Victoria
Enlisted: 19/20 October 1916 aged 30
Unit: 7th Battalion, 23rd Reinforcement (SERN: 7081)
Served: Western Front
Died of wounds: 9 March 1918 - Melbourne, Victoria
Charles was the eldest son of Andrew Brydie Warner and Sarah Warner of “The Burrs”, Pakenham Upper. His parents had been amongst the earliest settlers at what was then known as “Gembrook South” (1). As a child, Charles attended the State School there, before becoming an orchardist. He enlisted with the AIF in October 1916. Initially trained at Royal Park (2), Charles was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 23rd Reinforcement. As he had already embarked for overseas, Charles missed the special farewell arranged for him, Donald Black and other local volunteers held at Pakenham Upper in November 1916 (2a). He subsequently trained as a bomber and saw action in France. In October 1917, Charles was badly wounded in the chest at Glencowise Wood (3). He was invalided to hospital in England, where he remained until deemed fit enough to make the voyage back to Australia. On the voyage home, Charles apparently suffered greatly from “mal de mer” (sea sickness), which caused his old wound to re-open (4). Upon arrival in Melbourne on 4 March 1918, he was admitted to the St Kilda Rd Hospital and operated on, but died on 9 March 1918 (5). Charles was subsequently buried with full military honours: the Union Jack was draped on his coffin, which was then placed on a gun carriage drawn by six horses. The funeral cortege was headed by a military band and passed through Melbourne City to Coburg Cemetery, where a detachment of soldiers waited with arms reversed. Charles’ coffin was carried to the grave by four soldiers and six of his friends who acted as pall bearers. After his coffin was lowered into the grave, three rifle volleys were fired and the “Last Post” sounded, bringing to an end what the Pakenham Gazette described as a “very impressive ceremony” and the “final tribute to yet another who has unselfishly laid down his life for his country with no thought of gain other than the consciousness of duty nobly done” (6). In his will, Charles left 68 acres of land valued at £280. This was occupied by his brother Albert Victor Warner as tenant at will. Charles’ other assets included a horse, plough and harness, cart, bicycle and his deferred Army pay (7).
Andrew Warner was presented with a certificate by the Pakenham Upper Community commemorating his son’s service and sacrifice. The original of this was lost when the Warners’ house burnt down and a replacement was later presented to the family (8). Charles’ service was also remembered on three of the district’s WWI memorials.
(1) (2) (3) & (5) Pakenham Upper State School Honour Book
(2a) DA 30/11/1916 p. 2
(4) & (6) PG 15/3/1918, p. 2
(7) PROV VPRS 28/P3 Unit 820 Item 157/522
(8) PG 10/10/1918 p. 3