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18 October 2009

Lieutenant Harold Charles Carne of Blackwood

Photo: AWM J00519
Harold Carne was the third son of the Reverend Alfred Harris Carne, a Methodist minister. He was born in Samoa whilst his father was engaged in missionary work there. He was a student prior to the war and as he was a single man, he was living with his father in Wattle Street, Malvern, SA at the time of his enlistment. Harold was probably a Methodist student minister and it appears he was in charge of the Blackwood Methodist circuit prior to the war.

He enlisted on 13 May 1915 at the age of 25. He was allotted regimental number 1684 in the 2nd reinforcements of the 27th Battalion, the second infantry battalion to be raised exclusively from SA, and embarked on 23 June 1915 for the Middle East. During the voyage he held the rank of Corporal, which is unusual as he had only been a member of a rifle club before the war, and his records show no previous military service. It may have been a recognition of leadership skills he had developed as a minister. His records show he reverted to the ranks then re-embarked on 4 September 1915 from Alexandria to join his unit on Gallipoli. He returned to Egypt with his unit in January 1916. The unit was transferred to France in March 1916. Early on, he seems to have had some difficulty adapting to life in the trenches, being charged with disciplinary offences three times up to July 1916. Whilst he was with the 27th Battalion it was involved in the Battle of Pozieres in July and August 1916. In November 1916 he was hospitalised with a gunshot wound to the left cheek during the attack on Bayonet Trench during the Battle of Flers, during which his unit and brigade took appalling casualties. Due to a case of trench feet, he didn't rejoin his unit until February 1917.

Later that month he was transferred to the 6th Battalion (a unit raised in Victoria) apparently because his brother Captain Alfred George Carne was serving in that unit. Things had clearly changed, because in May 1917 he commenced officer training at Codford in the UK, and returned to the 6th Battalion in France in late October 1917 as a Second Lieutenant. In February 1918 he was hospitalised, and rejoined his unit the following month, shortly after he was promoted to Lieutenant. In March and April 1918, the 6th Battalion helped stop the German spring offensive, and in August 1918 participated in the Battle of Amiens. The photograph has been cropped from a photograph of 6th Battalion officers taken at Ailly Le Haut Clocher, France on 5 November 1918 (AWM J00519).
After the war ended, Harold participated in the AIF Education Scheme, and attended a stock breeding course at an agricultural college in Aberdeen, Scotland. He asked to be repatriated to Victoria with his brother and the rest of his unit.

Harold died on 19 April 1943 at Renmark, SA aged 53 and is buried in the Renmark Cemetery. His name is inscribed on the Blackwood Soldiers Memorial, on an Honour Board at the Terowie Institute, Terowie, SA, and on a memorial clock tower in Western Samoa.

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