Charles Edwin Gatliff was born in St Kilda, Victoria, on 22 November 1882, one of ten siblings and the eldest of five brothers who served in artillery brigades in the First World War.
Charles had served in the Boer War in the Scots Mounted Railway Guards and the Canadian Scouts. His father had advised him that he was not of the required height to join in Australia. He joined the Australian Imperial Force on 16 April 1915, serving with reinforcements to the 4 Australian Light Horse Regiment, and later as a Captain with 5 Divisional Artillery. He served in Egypt in 1916, and in France and Belgium, fighting in major battles on the Western Front.
During his service Gatliff had many roles, including forward observation officer and battery commander, letter censor, court martial participant, and officer in charge of the wagon lines, and he recorded his duties and experiences in numerous letters to his family. The letters usually included news of his brothers, Francis Edward (Frank) and Vivian Harold (Hal) whose brigades were at times stationed near his own, and of Thomas Walter (Tom) upon his arrival in 1918.
Vivian Harold, Thomas Walter and Wilfred Edgar, who enlisted in May 1918, survived the war but Francis Edward was killed at Hellfire corner, Belgium, in August 1917.
On 9 August 1918 Charles left England for his return to Australia. By 1923, he was a clerk living in Pretoria Avenue, Mosman, New South Wales. At the time of his letters, Charles was married to Lilian and had a small daughter, Dorothy. That marriage ended in 1923 and Charles remarried. He died in Sydney on 1 January 1959.