Lieutenant Colonel Charles Groves Wright Anderson

Service number NX12595
Ranks Held Temporary Lieutenant, Lieutenant Colonel
Birth Date 1897-02-12
Birth Place South Africa: Cape Colony, Cape Town
Death Date 1988-11-11
Death Place Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra
Final Rank Lieutenant Colonel
Service S Africa
Unit King's African Rifles
  • First World War, 1914-1918
  • Second World War, 1939-1945
Gazettes Published in London Gazette in 1942-02-13
Published in London Gazette in 1919-02-07

Charles Anderson was born at Cape Town, South Africa, on 12 February 1897. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in the King's African Rifles on 13 October 1916 and fought with that regiment's 3rd Battalion in East Africa against the German-led Askari. Anderson was awarded the Military Cross for his service in this campaign.

Though he could not have known it at the time, Anderson's experience in jungle warfare - rare for a First World War soldier - and his post-war experience as a big-game hunter prepared him well for commanding troops in the jungles of Malaya in the Second World War.

He married Edith Tout in February 1931 and three years later, in 1934, the couple moved to Australia where Anderson had purchased a grazing property near Crowther in New South Wales. In March 1939 he joined the Citizen Military Forces, and was appointed captain in the 56th Battalion. He was promoted to major in late October that year and in July 1940 was seconded to the AIF. Appointed second-in-command of the 2/19th Battalion, part of the ill-fated 8th Division, he embarked for Malaya in February 1941.

Anderson was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 1 August 1941 and took command of his battalion. Five months later Japan entered the war, invading Malaya and committing herself to war with Britain on the same day as her forces attacked the United States at Pearl Harbour. British Empire forces began a long series of withdrawals down the length of the Malayan peninsula. Within a month Japanese forces were in southern Malaya and Anderson's unit was among those conducting defensive operations in the Muar area. He conducted a fighting withdrawal to Parit Sulong during which he and his men were cut off and suffered heavy casualties. Anderson led them through four days of heavy fighting in a bid to reach Allied lines. For his leadership, his protection of his own wounded men, and for repeatedly risking his own life Anderson was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The fighting over, Anderson endured more than three years in Japanese captivity before returning to Australia. His appointment in the AIF was terminated on 21 December 1945 and Anderson returned to his property. He stood in the 1949 general election and won a seat in the House of Representatives as the Country Party member for Hume. He lost the seat in 1951, but regained it in 1955, remaining in office until 1961.

Anderson and his wife had four children, all of whom were born in Australia. He moved to Red Hill in Canberra, having served as a member of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. He died in Canberra on 11 November 1988.



Date of birth 12 February 1897 Cape Town, South Africa.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1914 Private, Kenya Defence Force.
Other 1914 - 1918 Served in East Africa in the 2/3rd King's African Rifles Regiment.
Other 1915 Gunner, Calcutta Volunteer Battalion.
Date commissioned 13 October 1916 Comissioned as a lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion, Kings African Rifles Regiment.
Date of discharge 1919-02 Demobilised.
Date of honour or award 07 February 1919 Awarded the Military Cross, for his part in the campaign against the German led Askari, in East Africa.
Date promoted 1932 Appointed captain in Kenya Defence Force.
Other 1934 Moved to Australia.
Other 03 March 1939 Joined the Citizen Military Forces and was appointed captain in the 56th Battalion, Riverina Regiment, Australian Military Forces.
Other 1939-10-01 - 1939-10-14 Attended a company commander course at the Command and Staff School, Sydney.
Date promoted 26 October 1939 Promoted to temporary major.
Date and unit at appointment (Officers) 01 June 1940 Enlisted in the 2nd AIF.
Other units 25 July 1940 Seconded as major in the 2/19th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force.
Other 18 February 1941 Arrived in Singapore with the 2/19th Battalion.
Date promoted 1941-08-01 - 1942-02-15 Promoted to acting lieutenant colonel and commanding officer of the 2/19th Battalion.
Date promoted 14 November 1941 Gazetted lieutenant colonel, back dated to 1st August 1941.
Other 07 January 1942 Temporarily relinquished command due to medical reasons.
Date of honour or award 1942-01-18 - 1942-01-22 Awarded the Victoria Cross. 'During the operations in Malaya from the 18th to 22nd Jan 1942, Lieut. Col. ANDERSON, in command of a small Force, was sent to restore a vital position and to assist a Brigade. His Force destroyed ten enemy tanks. When later cut off, he defeated persistent attacks on his position from air and ground forces, and forced his way through the enemy lines to a depth of fifteen miles. He was again surrounded and subjected to a very heavy and frequent attacks resulting in severe casualties to his Force. He personally led an attack with great gallantry on the enemy who were holding a bridge, and succeeded in destroying four guns. Lieut. Col. Anderson throughout all this fighting, protected his wounded and refused to leave them. He obtained news by wireless of the enemy position and attempted to fight his way back through the eight miles of enemy occupied country. This proved to be impossible and the enemy were holding too strong a position for any attempt to be made to relieve him. On the 19th January, Lieut. Col. Anderson was ordered to destroy his equipment and make his way back as best he could round the enemy position. Throughout the fighting, which lasted for four days, he set a magnificent example of brave leadership, determination and outstanding courage. He not only showed fighting qualities of a very high order but throughout exposed himself to danger without any regard to his own personal safety.'
Date captured 15 February 1942 Became a prisoner of war when British forces in Malaya surrendered.
Other 16 February 1942 Reported missing in action.
Other units 14 May 1942 Attached to A Force.
Other 27 May 1942 Arrived in Burma.
Date released 20 August 1945 Reported Safe in Allied hands, Siam.
Date returned to Australia 01 November 1945
Date of discharge 21 December 1945 AIF appointment was terminated. Anderson transferred to the Reserve of Officers.
Other 1949 Elected to the House of Representatives as Country Party member for Hume in the general election. He was defeated in 1951, regained it in 1955 and retained it till 1961.
Other 1951 Anderson lost the seat of Hume in the general election.
Other 1955 Anderson regained his seat as Member for Hume in the House of Representatives in the general election.
Other 1961 Anderson lost the seat of Hume in the general election.
Date of death 11 November 1988 Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra