ELSOM, Charles Henry
(Service number 4/73a)
|First Rank||Sergeant||Last Rank|
|Date||12 September 1893||Place of Birth||Temuka|
|Date||28 September 1914||Age|
|Address at Enlistment|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||Mrs Rose ELSOM (mother), Winchester, South Canterbury|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 7¾ inches. Weight 162 lbs.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||New Zealand Expeditionary Force|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||New Zealand Engineers, 1 Field Company|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With|
|Campaigns||Egypt; Western Front; Gallipoli|
|Service Medals||1914-1915 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal|
|Military Awards||Military Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
London Gazette, 17 December 1917, p13201: “On October 4th 1917 near Schuler Farm N.E of Ypres, he carried out road formation under heavy shell fir. He showed conspicuous ability in carrying out the work and displayed great coolness, determination and bravery and set a splendid example to all. His coolness and bravery at all times has been most marked.“
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
|Place of Death||Christchurch|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch|
|New Zealand Memorials|
Charles Henry Elsom was the son of George and Caroline Rose (Rose, née Boston) Elsom. He enlisted with the New Zealand forces on 28 September 1914 in England.
Charlie's Military Medal was published in the London Gazette on 17 December 1917, p13201, and recounts: “On October 4th 1917 near Schuler Farm N.E of Ypres, he carried out road formation under heavy shell fir. He showed conspicuous ability in carrying out the work and displayed great coolness, determination and bravery and set a splendid example to all. His coolness and bravery at all times has been most marked.“ The Official History of the NZ Engineers it provides more details (p.151):
“Since dawn on the 4th the 1st Field Company, along with the Pioneers, had been concentrated on the work of repairing the one main road, and by 8 p.m. some field guns were already on the way to more forward positions. Next day more still were brought up, but with the rain came inevitable delay and almost a stoppage of movement. Several guns were hauled through somehow by main strength and determination, but the road soon became impassable, and the road workers were fully employed in pulling out bogged guns and helping them to the nearest few feet of comparatively firm ground on either side of the slushy canal that marked the line of the former roadway.
Lieutenant G. V. Russell of the 1st Field Company was awarded the Military Cross for good work and gallant conduct on this occasion. No less admirable in their own spheres of action were the achievements of Sergeants B. V. Cooksley and C. H. Elsom, Lance-Corporal J. R. Gilbert, and Sapper A. T. Brokenshire of the same Company, each of whom received an immediate reward of the Military Medal.”
Known as Uncle Charlie to his family, he married Olive Spence in 1924. Olive became a well-regarded artist. A nephew (by marriage) recalls:
"My mother Thelma Spence Batchelor (nee Thompson) was a cousin of Charlie's wife Olive. When I knew Charlie he was the owner of a service station in Christchurch. Charlie gave me my first job as a youngster helping out there. Uncle Charlie and Olive owned a fine property at Riccarton with extensive lawns and large trees. My parents and myself and sister Sally often visited them there."
Charlie died in Christchurch in 1979 and is buried in the Bromley Cemetery with his mother, Rose Elsom, and his wife. His father, George, is buried in the Temuka Cemetery.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [09 September 2016]; New Zealand Herald, 7 November 1914 (Papers Past) [September 2016]; SCRoll web submission by G Shannahan, 27 December 2017; MacDonald, Wayne "Honours and Awards to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Great War 1914-1918", 3rd ed. (Richard Stowers, 2013);Shera, Lt Col LM, et al. "Official History of the New Zealand Engineers During the Great War 1914-1919" (Evans, Cobb & Sharpe, Ltd, 1927); SCROll web submission by M Batchelor, 21 May 2023.
No documents available.
Researched and Written by
Tony Ripin, South Canterbury Museum
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