Lieutenant Colonel Charles Groves Wright Anderson, VC, MC

Charles Groves Wright Anderson. 100636 Charles Groves Wright Anderson

Date of birth: 12 February 1897
Place of birth: Cape Town, South Africa
Date of death: 11 November 1988
Place of death: Canberra, ACT

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.

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