Charles Hercules Green

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Charles Hercules Green
Charles Green 1945 (AWM 097970).jpg
Charles Green in Wirui, New Guinea, in 1945.
Nickname(s) 'Chuckles'
Born 26 December 1919
Grafton, Australia
Died 1 November 1950(1950-11-01) (aged 30)
Anju, North Korea
Buried United Nations Memorial Cemetery
Pusan, South Korea
Allegiance Australia
Service/branch Australian Army
Years of service 1936–50
Rank Lieutenant Colonel
Commands held 2/11th Battalion
41st Battalion
3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment

World War II

Korean War

Awards Distinguished Service Order
Silver Star (United States)

Lieutenant Colonel Charles Hercules Green DSO (26 December 1919 – 1 November 1950) was a senior officer in the Australian Army. He served as a battalion commander in World War II, and again later during the Korean War, where he was killed in action while commanding the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.[1] He was the youngest battalion commander in the Second Australian Imperial Force (2nd AIF), and was reputed to have been one of the Australian Army's better unit-level commanders.[2]

Early life[edit]

Born on 26 December 1919 at Grafton, New South Wales, Charles Green was the second of three children to Hercules John Green and Bertha de Ville, and was raised at Swan Creek. He attended school at Swan Creek Public School and Grafton High School. In 1933, he began working for his father on the family dairy farm; during this time he also undertook odd jobs ploughing and building roads. He also became a cricketer and horseman of some note.[1] On 28 October 1936, at the age of 16, he enlisted in the 41st Battalion, a part-time Militia infantry unit. By 1938 he had been promoted to sergeant, before later being commissioned as a lieutenant in March 1939.[1]

World War II[edit]

With the outbreak of World War II, Green volunteered for overseas service and enlisted in the 2nd AIF on 13 October 1939. He was subsequently posted to the 2/2nd Battalion, which was one of the first units raised upon the outbreak of the war and formed part of the 16th Brigade that was assigned to the 6th Division.[1] The 2/2nd Battalion was deployed to the Middle East in February 1940; however, after accidentally injuring himself, Green missed out on taking part in 6th Division's first combat action, which took place during the North African campaign between December 1940 and January 1941. In March he was promoted to captain,[3] and the following month the battalion was committed to Greece to repel a German invasion. During the fighting that followed Green saw action at Pineios Gorge on 18 April. The British and Commonwealth forces were quickly overwhelmed by the larger German forces, and in the subsequent retreat Green evaded capture by undertaking a hazardous journey through the Aegean Islands, through Turkey, to Palestine, which he reached on 23 May.[1]

During his time in Greece, Green's presence as well his ability to connect with the soldiers under his command endeared him to his men who followed him unquestioningly. This was noted by his peers, and he was marked him down for quick promotion. After reforming in Palestine, Green's battalion then was sent to undertake garrison duties in Syria and Ceylon, before finally returning to Australia in August 1942. Having injured his foot and contracting typhoid while in Ceylon, when the 2/2nd was sent to New Guinea, Green was again unable to join them.[1] In December, having been substantively promoted to major in September,[3] he was posted as an instructor to the First Army's Junior Tactical School in Southport, Queensland. He married Edna Olwyn Warner at St Paul's Anglican Church, Ulmarra, New South Wales, on 30 January 1943.[1]

Throughout 1943–1944, Green was posted to the Land Headquarters Tactical School where he filled another instructional position before undertaking the senior officers' tactical course. In December 1944, he deployed to Aitape, New Guinea,[3] as the 6th Division took over responsibility for the area from US forces.[4] On 9 March 1945 Green was promoted to temporary lieutenant colonel and given command of the 2/11th Battalion; at the age of only 25 he was the youngest Australian battalion commander during the war.[5] The battalion then took part in the attack on Wewak and operations around Boram during 1945.[1] Conditions were difficult, and during the early part of the campaign supply lines were constantly raided by the Japanese causing difficulty with rations and creature comforts. Later the battalion suffered significant casualties, but still Green managed to maintain morale and efficiency—all objectives assigned to the unit during the campaign were achieved. As a result, he was later awarded the Distinguished Service Order.[Note 1][6][7]

Post World War II[edit]

After discharging from the 2nd AIF on 23 November 1945, Green was placed on the Reserve of Officers List. He returned to Grafton where he worked at the Producers' Co-operative Distributing Society Ltd and studied accountancy. During this time he and his wife had a daughter, Anthea.[8] When Australia's part-time military force was re-raised in April 1948 under the guise of Citizens Military Forces,[9] Green returned to the 41st Battalion, serving as its commanding officer. With the establishment of the Regular Army, Green returned to full-time military service on 6 January 1949.[1] In 1950 he was selected to attend Staff College at Fort Queenscliff.[8]

Korean War[edit]

Two officers in tropical military uniforms standing on sandy ground, a larger body of troops is visible in the right background in front of stunted trees and more distant hills
Green (right) with Brigadier Basil Coad, commander of 27th British Commonwealth Brigade, at Taegu, Korea, on 28 September 1950.

After the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR) was committed to the Korean War, Green was appointed the commanding officer in September 1950 and left Staff College early to take up this appointment.[1] After only two weeks training in Japan,[10] the battalion was sent to Korea where it formed part of 27th British Commonwealth Brigade. Leading the battalion with distinction through the battles at Yongju, Kujin, and Chongju, on 30 October 1950, the day after the fighting at Chongju, Green was severely wounded by a shell burst while resting in his tent when Chinese artillery struck 3 RAR's position.[11] He was evacuated for medical attention, but could not be saved dying the next day in a nearby US Army Mobile Army Surgical Hospital at Anju.[12] He was buried in the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Pusan, South Korea, and posthumously awarded the US Silver Star in 1951.[1][13][14] Green's wife, Olwyn, who survived him along with their daughter, later wrote a biography of him titled The Name's Still Charlie, which was published in 1993 and republished in 2010.[15]


  1. ^ Green's brigade commander, Brigadier J. Martin, recommended him for appointment as Officer of the Order of the British Empire. This was endorsed by Major General Horace Robertson, commanding 6th Division, but was upgraded to the Distinguished Service Order by Lieutenant General Vernon Sturdee of First Army. That recommendation was in turn endorsed by General Thomas Blamey, Commander-in-Chief, Australian Military Forces, and Green was duly awarded the DSO on 6 March 1947.[6][7]
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Barter 1996, pp. 313–314.
  2. ^ Butler et al. 2002, p. 39.
  3. ^ a b c "Lieutenant Colonel Charles Hercules Green, DSO". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  4. ^ Keogh 1965, p. 402.
  5. ^ Butler et al. 2002, p. 41.
  6. ^ a b "Recommendations for Honours and Awards (Army)—Image details—Green, Charles Hercules" (fee usually required to view pdf of full original recommendation). DocumentsOnline. The National Archives. Retrieved 24 September 2009. 
  7. ^ a b "No. 37898". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 March 1947. p. 1089. 
  8. ^ a b Butler et al. 2002, p. 49.
  9. ^ Grey 2008, pp. 200–201.
  10. ^ Horner & Bou 2008, pp. 54–56.
  11. ^ "Lieutenant Colonel Charles Green". Out in the Cold: Australia's Involvement in the Korean War. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  12. ^ Odgers 2009, p. 48.
  13. ^ "UNMCK: Grave No. 2974". UN Memorial Cemetery. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  14. ^ "No. 39265". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 June 1951. p. 3411. 
  15. ^ Green, Olwyn, (2010) The Name’s Still Charlie, (2nd revised edition) Australian Military History Publications, ISBN 978-0980567434 OCLC 743026239


  • Barter, Margaret (1996). "Green, Charles Hercules (1919–1950)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Volume 14. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. pp. 313–314. ISBN 0-522-84717-X. 
  • Butler, David; Argent, Alf; Shelton, Jim (2002). The Fight Leaders: Australian Battlefield Leadership: Green, Hassett and Ferguson 3RAR – Korea. Loftus: Australian Military Historical Publications. ISBN 1-876439-56-4. 
  • Grey, Jeffrey (2008). A Military History of Australia (3rd ed.). Melbourne, Victoria: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-69791-0. 
  • Horner, David; Bou, Jean, eds. (2008). Duty First: A History of the Royal Australian Regiment (2nd ed.). Crows Nest, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-74175-374-5. 
  • Keogh, Eustace (1965). South West Pacific 1941–45. Melbourne, Victoria: Grayflower Publications. OCLC 7185705. 
  • Odgers, George (2009). Remembering Korea: Australians in the War of 1950–53. Chatswood, New South Wales: New Holland Publishers (Australia). ISBN 978-1-74110-807-1. 

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