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Charles Alexander Wann. Image courtesy

In March 1919 Company Sergeant-Major Mayne of the 44th Battalion paid tribute to Charles Alexander Wann, who had been killed in action at St Quentin Canal. He declared:

He was a fine soldier, and one of the bravest men I ever met.

Charles Alexander Wann, aka Alex, was born in Orange in 1883. His parents, Charles snr and Mary Ann nee Plowman had married in Orange the previous year.

By 1903 the family had moved to Armadale in Western Australia, where Charles snr worked as a sleeper cutter.

In 1906 Alex was living at Bullsbrook and working as a farm labourer and kangaroo shooter. He was also a proficient cyclist who won the prestigious Beverley to Perth road race in 1912.

In 1911 Alex married Charlotte Warren. The marriage was short-lived; Alex became a widower when 21 year old Charlotte died in childbirth on 4 January 1912. Their infant son also died that day.

Alex enlisted in the First World War on 4 October 1916. He embarked HMAT A34 Persic in Fremantle on 29 December 1916, arriving in Devonport on 3 March 1917. He undertook a further four months training with the 11th Training Battalion at Larkhill before proceeding to France on 2 July.

Private Wann was taken on strength with the 44th Battalion on 18 July 1917. On 8 August he was appointed Temporary Lance Corporal, and upgraded to Lance Corporal on 30 August.

On 12 October 1917 Lance Corporal Wann was wounded in action receiving a gunshot wound to the right eyebrow. He was admitted to the 11th Field Ambulance, then the 46th Casualty Clearing Station. Two days later he was transferred to the 2nd Convalescent Depot at Rouen, then on 22 October, to the 11th Convalescent Depot at Buchy. Lance Corporal Wann rejoined his battalion on 17 November 1917.

Eight months later Lance Corporal Wann was hospitalised for a second time. On 9 July 1918 he was admitted to the 72nd General Hospital at Trouville with a septic right knee. He would not return to his battalion until 12 September.

On 30 September 1918 the 44th Battalion was engaged in the advance on the Hindenburg Line. According to Company Sergeant-Major Mayne:

Alex … was shot through the head by a German sniper. He was killed instantaneously, and our boys were greatly cut up over his loss

Charles Alexander Wann is commemorated on panel number 138 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in France.

Alex’ brother, Daniel Malcolm Wann, also served in WWI. Daniel died on 13 August 1918 from wounds received in the Battle of Amiens.

Charles and Charlotte on their wedding day. Image courtesy

BirtwistleWiki – Charles Alexander Wann