Private Charles Harold Breckell

Service number 2583
Birth Place United Kingdom: England, Merseyside, Liverpool
Death Date 1916-11-14
Death Place France
Final Rank Private
Service Australian Imperial Force
Unit 19th Australian Infantry Battalion
Conflict/Operation First World War, 1914-1918

Charles Harold Breckell was born on 30 September 1893 in Liverpool, England, one of ten children born to John Adam Breckell and Sarah Breckell (née Garner). John worked as a house painter and Charles took up work as a shipping clerk while living at home.

When he was 20, Charles immigrated to Australia and worked as an apprentice orchardist. For three years he had served in the Territorial Force, the volunteer reserve component of the British Army, with the 2nd West Lancashire Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC). On 25 July 1915, Charles enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) at Liverpool, NSW, and joined the 19th Infantry Battalion as a private, service number 2583. Charles and the other reinforcements embarked from Sydney aboard HMAT Euripides on 2 November 1915.

After further training in Egypt, the battalion went to France in late March 1916. On 6 May 1916 Charles was wounded in action with a slight bullet or shrapnel wound to his hand. The battalion was in the fighting around Pozièeres in July and August 1916 before being rested in Belgium.

Starting on 14 November 1916 the battalion took part in an attack near Flers in conditions that Charles Bean described as “the worst ever known to the First AIF”. In the morass of mud, the 19th Battalion and part of the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers took and consolidated part of the German front line, suffering casualties of 12 officers and 369 other ranks. Charles Breckell, serving with C Company, went missing. Sergeant William Huxley recalled what he saw of Charles during the attack:

“We got across to the German front line all right. Arrived there, a small party went on to the second line. He volunteered to carry bombs. I saw him go. That is the last known of him. The party he was carrying for was driven back. It is believed he must have been killed either in going to the party or lost his way. I enquired of the party but they did not see him. He did not reach them.”

Charles’ body was later found and buried at Warlencourt British Cemetery. He was 23 years old. The following year, on 22 August 1917, Charles’s 27-year-old brother Harry was killed in action while serving with the 44th Field Ambulance, RAMC.



Date of embarkation 02 November 1915
Date of death 14 November 1916