Charles Anderson was born in 1897 in Cape Town, South Africa to a British father and Belgian mother, but raised on their farm near Nairobi, Kenya. He served with the King’s African Rifles during the First World War and was awarded the Military Cross.
In 1931, he and his Australian wife Edith moved to New South Wales and took up a grazing property. He joined the part-time volunteer militia in 1939 before volunteering for the Second Australian Imperial Force in 1940.
He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions in command of the 2/19th Battalion against the Japanese invading force at Muar, Malaya in January 1942.
Cut off, surrounded and without support, Anderson led attacks against road-blocks, and enemy positions and organised his troops’ forced retreat to Singapore. Anderson was taken prisoner by the Japanese along with the remnants of the 2/19th – just 180 men from a full strength of 900. He was held captive for three years, first in Changi prison then on the Thai-Burma railway. He returned to Australia in 1945, resuming his life as a grazier, but also entering federal politics.
Reproduced courtesy of Australian War Memorial
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Reviewed 24 April 2023