Title: Papers of Charles and Olwyn Green.
Date Range: 1942-2002.
Extent: 20 boxes.
Collection number: PR00466
Location: Private Records collection, Research Centre, Australian War Memorial.
Abstract: A collection of papers documenting the life of Charles and Olwyn Green from 1942-2002. They cover Charles Green's military service in the Second World War and Korea and Olwyn's related post-war writings on Charlie's career and the role of 3 Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) in Korea.
Provenance: Donated by Olwyn Green in 1994 and 2002.
Access: Open with exceptions. Series 1 restricted.
Restrictions on use: Copyright of materials described in this guide is governed by copyright law in Australia. For further information contact the Curator of Private Records, Research Centre.
Preferred citation: Papers of Charles and Olwyn Green, AWM PR00466.
Subjects: 3 Royal Australian Regiment; Patriotism; 2/11 Battalion; Love letters; Letters of condolence.
Charles Hercules Green was born on 26 December 1919 in Grafton, New South Wales, the second child of Hercules John Green and his wife Bertha. He was educated at Swan Creek Public and Grafton High School and began working on his father's farm when he was thirteen years old.
In October 1936 he enlisted in 41 Battalion Militia and was promoted to sergeant and lieutenant in 1938 and 1939 respectively.
In October 1939, Charles was seconded to the Australian Imperial Force and joined 2/2 Battalion. From February 1940 he was based in the Middle East and his first experience of battle was at the Pinios Gorge, Greece in April 1941. During the retreat, Charles evaded capture and escaped through the Aegean islands and Turkey before reaching Palestine in May 1941 where he met Allied Forces.
In August 1941, 2/2 Battalion spent time doing garrison duty in Syria and later Ceylon (Sri Lanka), returning to Australia in 1942. Green had injured his foot and become ill with typhoid in Sri Lanka, so he did not contribute to the New Guinea campaign. He was promoted to substantive major in September and posted in December as an instructor to the First Army's Junior Tactical School in Southport, Queensland. On 30 January 1943 he married Edna 'Olwyn' Warner in St Paul's Anglican Church, Ulamurra.
In July 1943 Green was selected as second in command of the 2/2nd Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel A G Cameron. In December 1944 the unit was sent to New Guinea where in March 1945 Green was promoted to lieutenant-colonel and given command of the 2/11 Battalion. He was only twenty-five years old and possibly the youngest officer to command an Australian battalion during the Second World War.
From May-July 1945 the 2/11 Battalion were involved in the attack on Wewak and in operations around Boram from which Green was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.
Green returned to Australia in November 1945 but did not find the transition to civilian life an easy one and in January 1949 he joined the Permanent Military Forces. When the Australian government committed 3 Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment to the conflict in Korea, Green, due to his distinguished service in the Second World War, was selected to command it. He was sent to Japan on 8 September 1950.
His intelligence officer Lieutenant (later Lieutenant-Colonel) A Argen described him as
"a tall, dark, sinewy man with the bearing and unhurried deliberateness one usually associated with men of the land. Pressure never seemed to bother him. He had a fine touch and the presence of a natural leader. His command in Korea was always firm and sure."
The battalion moved to the Republic of (South) Korea that month and 3RAR joined the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade. They advanced north, defeating enemy forces at Yongju, 22 October, Pakch'on, 25-26 October and at Chongju on 28 October. On 29 October the Battalion withstood a North Korean counter-attack and occupied positions on a ridge overlooking the Talch'on River. At 6.10pm six shells hit the battalion headquarters area. The headquarters was protected by being situated on the reverse slope of a hill overlooking the river, however the sixth shell cleared the crest and hit a tree, exploding close to Green's tent. Asleep on a stretcher, he was badly wounded in the stomach by a shell fragment. Green was taken by ambulance to the surgical hospital at Angu but died at 8pm on 1 November 1950 and buried in the United Nations Memorial Cemetery, Pusan, South Korea, survived by his wife and daughter. In 1951 the United States awarded him the Silver Star for bravery.
Olwyn Green was born on 21 September 1923 at the Sydney suburb of Lidcombe and grew up in Ulmarra, New South Wales. Her father was a petty officer with the Royal Australian Navy and a veteran of the First World War. Olwyn was educated at Ulmarra Public School and attended Grafton High School for two years. She left school at thirteen to work in the family newsagency. In 1940, after the outbreak of the Second World War, Olwyn went to work at the local Pioneer Dairy Company and managed the General Store there. After the death of her husband in 1950, Olwyn obtained a Bachelor of Art degree from the University of Sydney in 1958. From 1960 until 1977 she worked as an English teacher at the Department of Technical Education in Meadowbank, eventually being promoted to Senior Head Teacher. After her retirement in 1979, Olwyn wrote a biography of her husband, The name's still Charlie, which was published by the University of Queensland Press in 1993. Olwyn has been actively involved with the Korean War Veterans Association for which she is a patron. She is also a member of a number of associations including the 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment Association and Australian War Memorial Anzac Foundation.
- Green, Olwyn , The name's still Charlie (University of Queensland Press, 1993).
- Barter, Margaret, Australian dictionary of biography, volume 14: 1940-1980 (University of Melbourne Press, 1996).
- O'Neill, Robert, Australia in the Korean War 1950-53: Volume 2 (Commonwealth of Australia, 1985).
Scope and content note
The papers of Charles and Olwyn Green comprise records relating to Charles' service in the Second World War and Korea. These include letters exchanged between Charles and Olwyn from 1943-1950; letters of condolence after Charles' death in November 1950 and photograph albums documenting the the movements of 2/2 Battalion in Palestine, Greece, Sri Lanka and New Guinea. Throughout the 1980s Olwyn researched and wrote a book about her relationship with Charles and his career with the AIF and 3 RAR, called The name's still Charlie. This part of the collection consists of correspondence with publishers, including Barbara Ker Wilson, an editor with Angus and Robertson.
Olwyn Green's Korean collection began as research for a post-graduate degree thesis entitled 'The Anzac Tradition in a new war in a new army'. Olwyn withdrew her candidature due to illness and began to concentrate instead on collecting testimonies of soldiers with the support of the Australia Korea Foundation. She focused on gathering information from men of 1RAR, 2RAR and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Each soldier's story is contained in a file comprising of service records, correspondence and photographs.