Premier’s ANZAC Spirit School Prize 2018 – Charles Andrew Horne – By Laj Thind

I met an elderly man at a school camp at Dzintari Latvian Campsite. Jeffery Horne is the uncle of a teacher who came to help out. That night as we sat around the bonfire, he begun to talk about his Grandfather who went to the Great War in 1914 which of course wasn’t called World War 1 at the time. Who would have known that those young men would have to experience another in 20 years time. They believed it was the war to end all wars. His story went like this…

My great-grandparents Bridget and Benjamin Horne immigrated to South Australia on the 7th of 1843 from Trundel, Sussex, England. My grandfather Charles Andrew Horne, was born in the town of Koolunga South Australia on the 21st of November 1877. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on September 21st 1914 at the age of 36. His unit was the 9th Motor Transport Company and his service number was, 2017. Charles was firstly given the job of a cleaner and mechanic, checking vehicles and fixing them.

Then his rank and job was that of a driver, transporting soldiers and ammunition from one location to another. Or as he would have said, leading men to their death without the knowledge of how many of them shall return. Later he would become an ambulance driver, directly witnessing the horrific injuries of his fellow countrymen. Charles’s time in World War 1 was mainly situated in Britain and France. Although by researching his war records, it appears that his battle was more with authority.

Charles grew up with 7 elder siblings up on a farm. He was married to Helen Westmacott at the age of 23 on the 1st of December 1905, but unfortunately she died during child birth with their first  child in 1902. On the 22nd of June 1903, he married her sister, Elizabeth Martha Victoria Horne known as Patricia or Patty. Elizabeth had two sons, Alf and Martin with her first husband George Alfred Battye, who died after being kicked in the head by a horse. Charles had another 3 children with Elizabeth, Raymond (Jeff) born in 1903, Desdemona (Mona) born in 1905 and Dorothy (Hilda). In 1910, Charles stood in the Australian federal election as a member for the Young Australia National Party, a minor political party that believed in a merger of Australia’s states. Unfortunately he did not win. At that time, he owned the Hornesway Traders, composed of grocery stores in Koolunga, Brinkworth and Redhill.

Selling a variety of things from livestock feed, regular groceries to lingerie. He bought the Nairne Brickworks which also gave him the occupation of bricklayer. In 1912, he and his family moved to Koolunga. One day whilst he was out and visited a hotel called The Miller’s Arms located in Nairne, he liked it to the extent that he bought it on the spot. Before he joined the Australian Imperial Force, Charles owned and managed five businesses that he left Elizabeth and his eldest stepson Alf to manage in his absence.

Charles’s initial training was in Albert Park, Melbourne. Then on the 22nd of November 1914 he boarded the troop ship HMAT Ceramic. In little over 8 weeks he arrived in Alexandria, Egypt for basic military training. Several months later he was sent to the ancient town of Romsey, England from where the 9th Australian Army Service Company, was meant to be sent to where they were required.

On the 12th of May 1915, Charles’s authoritative and businessmen like outlook was evident when he wrote a persuasive letter to the official secretary of the High Commissioners office in Australia. Addressing the no confidence vote in their Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Moon, who was a British born 53 year old merchant from Melbourne. With 137 listed or 90% of the men’s signature showing no confidence in him as the men believed they could do this under the Kings Regulations Act of 1915. It is unknown whether Charles wrote the letter of his own will or whether it was because he was one of the only educated enough  to do so. The reasoning behind this action was based on the fact that Moon had no experience with Lorries  or maintenance to be in command of a transport company. After the training in Alexandria, they were treated as Gravel carters and cleaners rather than going to the Western front where they would be of some help. Charles also stated 7 other reasons and was court-martialled on the 9th of June 1915 and sentenced to detention for 56 days. However the letter was never received by the intended recipient.

On the 4th of October 1915, the 9th Australian Army Service Corps embarked Southampton, England TO Rouen the capital city of northern France on the 5th of October 1915, where he was posted to 5th Corps Ammunition Park. Charles was promoted to Driver on the 1st of March 1916 and developed septic feet during his time in the Somme from which it took over seven months to recover. He was granted leave of absence to Britain on the 29th of September 1916. Charles was sent to England again on the 29th of January 1917 from which he returned to Rouen on the 11th of September 1917. He spent much time in hospital, despite his feet and he spent 33 days in a clinic in Havre, France in January where he was treated.

Charles’s last promotion during the war was to driving an Ambulance which still landed him in trouble with authority. This was on the 10th of July 1918, whilst he was driving wounded men to a hospital in which he was observed using excessive speed in a French village. Instead of being rewarded by his efforts, yet again he received a fine of deduction of 2 days’ pay. After 2 months, he took another leave to England and returned to France to drive an ambulance. Charles than left to a Southern Italian town of Taranto and on the 8th of October 1918 he set sail on the “Kasir-a-hind” (Empress of India) for home. By the time he disembarked on the 2nd of December 1918, Charles Andrew Horne spent 4 years and 133 days in the A.I.F.

After Charles returned, he retired and spent the next 20 years of his life managing tour business which offered guided tours from mid-north to Arnham land in the Northern territory. Charles became an expert on indigenous culture and artefacts. He also lectured on discoveries and tours of the outback on the national radio. “He lived a full life, was an avid reader and a wonderful grandfather who taught me so much about the world ad history. Although he has been gone for 50 years he is still remembered fondly” – Jeffery Horne.

Charles Horne received three medals, The Star, The British war medal and The victory medal. He spent his last days with men who had similar stories as him in Daw Park Hospital, SA (a Veterans hospital) where he died on the 14th of January 1965. He died at the age of 87 and is buried with his wife Elizabeth at Centennial park cemetery on the 16/1/1965, located at Acacia B, Path BS Grave 991.16.

A characteristic that Charles Andrew Horne best displayed from the Anzac spirit, which is composed of courage, perseverance, mateship and resourcefulness, is resourcefulness. However in saying so, it is important to keep in mind that Charles did not only just display this one characteristic, he displayed all in his own way. For example, he displayed courage and mateship when he wrote a letter addressed to the official secretary of the High Commissioners office in Australia. He displayed perseverance as it was crucial for getting through 4 years in World War 1 and making it back to his family. He also displayed larrikinism when he drove an ambulance at an excessive speed to save someone’s life showing no sense of authority. However, what is more evident is his display of Resourcefulness, which has been shown by being capable enough to spend 4 years in World war 1, and by the jobs he undertook which were cleaner, mechanic, driver and lastly an ambulance driver. A mechanic needed to be resourceful as not all equipment would have been available. This means Charles would have to use parts of other motor vehicles to fix the one he was assigned to. This aspect of resourcefulness would have been used when he worked as a driver, when he had to fix a problem with the motor vehicle on the spot with whatever was available around him when transporting soldiers. Charles also had to been resourceful when driving an ambulance as he would have to pick the quickest route to the nearest hospital available. He has also displayed a great love for his country as he owned 5 businesses in South Australia before the war began, which means he didn’t have to join as he volunteered as they needed drivers.

However, he still enlisted for World War 1 out of choice and his love for his country. A perfect example of this is a letter to Desdemona, as he writes the line “should I fall, remember that your father faced death cheerfully because he loved the country that gave you birth”.

Reference List:


Enlistment and travel record:

National Archives of Australia. Undated.NAA: B2455, HORNE C A 2017. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Apr. 2018]. Undated. Charles Andrew HORN. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 May 2018].

Court Martial record:

National Archives of Australia. Undated.NAA: B2455, HORNE C A 2017b Court Martial Record. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 May 2018].

9th Australian Army service Corps Company: (2010). Army Service Corps. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 May 2018].

Family imformation: (2014). HORNE Charles married Helen & Elizabeth WESTMACOTT :: Genealogy. [online] Available at: married-helen-elizabeth-westmacott-58697.html [Accessed 3 May 2018].

Federal election: (2016). Candidates of the Australian federal election, 1910. [online] Available at:,_1910#South_Australia [Accessed 3 May 2018].

Personal Interviews:

Michael Barker nee Horne (Great Grandson of Charles Horne) Jeffery Horne (Grandson of Charles Horne)

Mandy Horne (Great Granddaughter of Charles Horne)

Judith Horne (Daughter of Raymond (Jeff) and Mother of Michael Barker nee Horne)