Charles McIntosh Heath
1st Field Artillery Brigade & 5th Field Artillery Brigade
Charles McIntosh Heath - Information
Charles was born on the 31st of October 1888 in Narrandera to William and Margaret Heath. When he was young, Charles attended Camden Grammar School. The Heaths then moved to Merewether near Newcastle. Here, Charles attended Newcastle High School. He did well at his studies, and began studying law while training at the Artillery Officer’s School in Sydney. He then became an articled law clerk, moving to Gurwood near Wagga Wagga to work as a law clerk for his uncle, Henry David Heath, of Heath & Mitchelmore Solicitors. However, the advent of war interrupted Charles’ promising law career. He decided to enlist in the AIF in 1915, despite the fact that he would have been qualified to practice as a solicitor for the Supreme Court in NSW in 1916. He signed up on the 22nd of November 1915, at 27 years of age. Due to his previous military experience, he was made a Gunner with the Field Artillery Brigade. He was then made Acting Sergeant, before applying for a Commission in July 1916. It was granted, and he was appointed 2nd Lieutenant with the 21st Reinforcements, 1st Field Artillery Brigade. He was sent abroad upon the HMAT Ascanius, sailing from Sydney on the 25th of October 1916.
Charles landed in Devonport, England on the 28th of December. The next day, he was marched out to the Reserve Brigade Australian Artillery at Larkhill. After practising with the large guns, Charles and his men were shipped to the Western Front in mid May 1917. A few weeks later, he left Etaples Base to join the 2nd Division Artillery, 5th Field Brigade, 105th Battery. At the time, the artillery units were preparing for a grand scale operation in the Flanders region in Belgium, which was to commence in early June with the Battle of Messines. Charles was then promoted to Lieutenant on the 1st of August during the Third Battle of Ypres. During these operations, however, Charles was reported MIA on the 26th of September. What actually happened to him is unknown. The army conducted a Court of Inquiry, however, it led to a myriad of contradictory statements. At the time, he was working as an Observation Officer for the artillery, walking from the forward trench positions back to the Battery, to pick targets and eye enemy movements. Some claimed that in the performance of these duties, he was caught in an enemy artillery bombardment and was killed instantly while taking cover in a dug out. Others claimed he had made it to a Dressing Station after being wounded, or that he was knocked in No Man’s Land and shortly died of his wounds. The Secretary of the Red Cross deemed the information provided to be unsatisfactory. However, without any way of corroborating the reports, the army concluded that he was killed in action on the 26th of September 1917. His body’s whereabouts is still unknown; his name is recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ieper, (Ypres) in Belgium.
Sadly, his poor mother was receiving all this confusing correspondence about what had happened to her beloved son. Unfortunately at the time, she had recently lost her husband, and now her son. In October 1917, she began writing the army for concrete information. For years, at her new home of Denbigh on Chatswood Ave in Chatswood, she waited anxiously for any more news. In January 1919, she wrote General G. Paw the Head of the French Mission, to see if they could find her son’s grave and send her a photo. They responded that although he had no grave listing for Charles, they would not give up and continue to search for him. Unfortunately, she never received any confirmation as to his final resting place.