Charles ALCORN was born in the small Victorian Town of Trentham in October, 1889. He re-located to Collie, WA some years prior to the Great War and found work in the underground mines. Charlie, as he was known, enlisted for service at Blackboy Hill Camp WA on 23 July 1915. He was to become one of only 15 Australian servicemen to be awarded a Military Medal, plus 2 Bars to the Medal, during the War.
Pte. ALCORN was initially posted to training with the 9th Reinforcements of the 16th Battalion in WA, before embarking from Fremantle on 5 October 1915, on the Transport Ship ” Hororata “, bound for Alexandria, Egypt. Soldiers disembarked at Suez on 28 October 1915, then transferred to the Overseas Training Base at Zeitoun. Charlie joined his mates in attempting to cope with oppressive heat and stinging sands during their combat training.
An attack of Mumps interrupted Pte. ALCORN’S training for 4 weeks, before he rejoined the 16th Battalion in the field at Ismailia. He was subsequently transferred to the newly formed 48th Battalion at Tel-el-Kebir, Egypt on 9 March 1916 and appointed to the rank of Temporary Lance Corporal. A further promotion to the rank of Corporal was confirmed in Egypt on 27 May, 1916.
Cpl. ALCORN disembarked at Marseilles ,France on 9 June 1916, then was transferred by rail to Northern France for action. The 48th Battalion undertook their baptism of fire at the Battle of Pozieres between 5 and 15 August 1916, then shifted to Mouquet Farm. The Battalion suffered heavy casualties in both encounters. Charlie suffered a gunshot wound to the scalp and was admitted to the 8th Stationary Hospital at Wimereux ,France. He underwent a 6 week period of treatment and convalescence until he rejoined the 48th Battalion in the field, ex the 4th Australian Division Base Depot at Etaples ,France.
On 5 December 1916, Charlie was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and shortly thereafter was granted Leave to the United Kingdom (U.K. ).He took ill during his leave and was admitted to Bulford Hospital, England for 6 weeks, and did not rejoin his Battalion in the field in France until 3 May 1917. Bitter action followed in the Battles of Bullecourt and Passchendaele, during which Sgt. ALCORN displayed conspicuous gallantry, being awarded the Military Medal on 29 August 1917.
During further action on 12 October 1917, Charlie received gunshot wounds to an eyelid, left arm and chest. These injuries necessitated immediate transfer to the 12th General Hospital at Rouen, France. He was then evacuated and admitted for 4 weeks treatment and convalescence at the Bath War Hospital in England. Upon discharge from Hospital, Charlie completed advanced training at Longbridge Deverill, England. He embarked from Southampton on 23 January 1918, bound for the Australian Infantry Base Depot at Havre ,France.
Sgt. ALCORN rejoined the 48th Battalion in the field in France on 29 January 1918. He was promoted to the rank of Temporary Company Sergeant Major on 27 March 1918, when the Battalion had been moved to the vicinity of Albert, France. Charlie was awarded a Bar to the Military Medal for his gallantry and devotion to duty at Albert on 5 April 1918. At the time, the Battalion was under heavy bombardment as he moved up and down the line, encouraging his men. He also displayed exemplary coolness and gallantry to control the movements of his Sections , to complete an orderly withdrawal.
Temp. CSM. ALCORN reverted to the rank of Sergeant when he was transferred to the School of Musketry in England on 2 May 1918 . He also spent some time at Army Administration Headquarters at Tidworth, prior to rejoining the 48th Battalion in the field in France on 1 July 1918. Charlie returned to France to take part in the Allied attacks ( referred to as the 100 Day Offensive ), which led to the collapse of the German war effort.
On 18 September 1918, Sgt. ALCORN again demonstrated conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during the advance near Le Vercuier, France . His coolness and daring, greatly inspired his platoon. During operations, he led bombing parties in close-quarter battles against the German machine gun placements, to successfully overcome the superior numbers in enemy opposition. His actions were also deemed to have had a strong influence on reducing the numbers of Australian casualties. He was awarded a Second Bar to his Military Medal, accordingly.
On 28 September 1918, Charlie ALCORN was promoted to the rank of Company Sergeant Major ( WO 11 ) in the field in France, served for a further 4 weeks, then enjoyed leave entitlements in the U. K. and Paris. He did not return to the front, due to an extended period of sickness, resulting in admittance to the 39th General Hospital at Havre ,France, then evacuation to the 1st Australian Division Hospital at Bulford, England.
The 48th Battalion was disbanded in March 1919 and Charlie ALCORN spent the final month of his war service at the Hurdcott Command Depot in England. He embarked from England on 12 July 1919 aboard the transport ship ” City of Exeter ” and arrived in Fremantle WA on 16 August 1919. CSM ( WO 11 ) Charles Henry ALCORN was discharged from War Service on 16 October 1919.
Charlie and partner Jessie GARDINER ran the Mumballup Tavern in South West WA during the 1920’s, until his untimely death in the Collie Hospital on 17 February 1929, at the age of 39 years.
CAREER SERVICE MEDALS AWARDED
1914/15 Star – No. 2920
British War Medal – No. 4826
Victory Medal – No. 4817
Bar To military Medal
Second Bar to Military Medal