Domenico Carrazzo emigrated from Italy to Australia in 1909. He ran away from home to join the army in February 1916. His father refused him permission to enlist underage. Choosing the very British name, John Charles (Charlie) Brown, he claimed he was a 22-year-old ironworker from Tasmania. His birthdate is uncertain, but he was between 15 and 18 years old.
Charlie served with the 1st ANZAC Cyclist Battalion on the Western Front. His duties would have included traffic control, acting as a guide or messenger, burial parties, trench digging, cable laying, and front-line reconnaissance and patrol, often in conjunction with other mounted units, such as the 4th and 13th Light Horse.
He met his bride Josephine Orphee Grimar, a 22-year-old dressmaker, while serving in Belgium. They married in April 1919 and returned to Australia. Charlie was exposed to gas and hospitalised several times during the war with bronchitis. He suffered bronchial and lung weakness for the rest of his life.
Reproduced courtesy of Catherine Brown
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Reviewed 24 April 2023