Charles William Murray
Charles William Murray was born in Orange in 1891; the second of five children of William Joseph Murray and his wife Emily (nee Freer). He attended Orange Superior Public School, where he served in the School Cadets.
Following his education Charles served a three year apprenticeship as a stonemason with his father William Joseph Murray.
Charles enlisted on 14 July 1915. He embarked HMAT A72 Beltana in Sydney on 9 November 1915, and arrived in Suez on 11 December 1915. In February the following year he was taken on strength with C Company of the 30th Battalion at Tel-el-Kebir.
On 1 April 1916 Charles was promoted to Corporal, and two months later left Egypt to join the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front in France. Less than one month later, on 20 July 1916, Corporal Murray was reported missing in action during the Battle of Fromelles.
The Red Cross File Wounded and Missing Bureau investigated Charles’ fate. According to two other soldiers he was shot in the thigh as he approached the German trenches on the night of 19 July 1916. His name was later located on a German death list dated 4 November 1916. In March 1917 the AIF declared Charles to have been killed in action; one of the 1,917 Australian men killed during the disastrous Battle of Fromelles.
Charles William Murray is commemorated on St John’s Presbyterian Church Orange Honour Roll, on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 117 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. His name also appears on a commemorative plaque on his father’s grave in Orange Cemetery, Church of England Section X, Grave 93.
In July 1917 a tree was planted at Orange Public School in Charles’ memory. It was one of 26 trees planted in honour of fallen soldiers who had attended the school.
In 1923 the Anzac Memorial Avenue of trees was planted along Bathurst Road to commemorate fallen WWI soldiers. A tree was planted in honour of “Pte CW Murray”; it was donated by “A Friend”. Very few of the trees are still standing today.
On 20 November 1960 Walter Murray, the last surviving male member of the family, presented Charles’ war medals to the Shrine of Remembrance at the Soldiers’ Memorial Hall in Anson Street. At 3pm the president of the Orange sub-branch of the RSL, Claude Spencer, made a short speech and placed the medals beneath a photograph of Charles. Corporal Murray’s British War Medal, 1914-15 Star and Victory Medal were encased in a frame alongside his father William’s medals from the Sudan War and London Campaign. Thirty members of the public attended the ceremony.
For more than 80 years Charles William Murray had no known grave. In 2011 his remains were identified and re-interred at the newly created Fromelles Military Cemetery at Pheasant Wood in France.
Leader, 25 September 1916, p. 1
Sergeant Charlie Murray – A Mate’s Letter