b. 12/04/1893 Lowestoft, Suffolk. d. 29/07/1916 Pozieres, France
Claud Charles Castleton (1893-1916) was born on 12th April 1893 at 5 Morton Road, Kirkley, South Lowestoft, Suffolk. His father was Thomas Charles Castleton, a bricklayer/builder at Carlton Colville, Lowestoft. His mother was Ethel Lucy nee Payne, who came from Bishop’s Stortford. Thomas and Edith were married on 4th September 1887 at Christ Church, Lowestoft. Claud had one brother, Frank William born in 1887.
Charles was educated at Morton Road School, Kirkley, South Lowestoft from 25th October 1897 and Lowestoft Municipal Secondary School from 2nd August 1905 and joined the Lowestoft Young Men’s Christian Association in September 1910. He returned to Morton Road School as a student teacher from 1st September 1910 to August 1911. He then transferred to London Road School until September 1912. He emigrated to Melbourne, Australia in October, where he worked on a sheep farm and also prospected for gold before moving to Tasmania. He also travelled throughout Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. His intention was to work his way home via New Zealand, India and Africa; but when war broke out he was in Port Moresby, New Guinea. He then returned to Australia where he enlisted in the AIF in Liverpool, Sydney on 11th March 1915. He embarked on HMAT A40 Ceramic from Sydney on 25th June, arriving at Alexandria in Egypt.
He was engaged in operations at Gallipoli from 16th August with D Company until contracting dysentery at No 1 Australian Casualty Clearing Station on 15th September. Following the evacuation from Gallipoli, he went to Alexandria from Mudros on 9th January 1916 and moved to Tel el Kebir. He reported sick with malaria and was admitted to 1st Australian Stationery Hospital on 27th January until discharged to duty at Ismailia on 16th February. He was appointed Temporary Sergeant and posted to 5th Australian Machine Gun Company on 8th March. He was promoted to Sergeant and embarked at Alexandria for Marseilles arriving on 23rd March.
On the night of the 28th/29th July 1916 near Pozières, France, during a night attack the infantry was temporarily driven back by the intense machine-gun fire from the enemy trenches. Many wounded were left in “No Man’s Land” lying in shell holes. Sergeant Castleton went out twice in the face of this intense fire, and each time brought in a wounded man on his back. He went out a third time and was bringing in another wounded man when he was himself hit in the back and killed instantly.
His body was recovered from No Man’s Land, and he was buried in Pozieres British Cemetery, The Somme, France. In addition to the VC, he was also awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal 1914-19. Claud never married and the VC was presented to his father by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 29th November 1916. It is held in the Hall of Valour, Australian War Memorial, Canberra.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL, CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA.
BURIAL PLACE: POZIERES BRITISH CEMETERY, THE SOMME, FRANCE.
PLOT IV, ROW L, GRAVE 43
Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Map
Steve Lee www.memorialstovalour.co.uk – Image of the Castleton VC Medal Group at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.