Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Castleton, Claud Charles (1893–1916)

by J. K. Haken

This article was published:

Claud Castleton, c.1915

Claud Castleton, c.1915

Australian War Memorial, H06769

Claud Charles Castleton (1893-1916), soldier, was born on 12 April 1893 at Kirkley, Suffolk, England, son of Thomas Charles Castleton, bricklayer, and his wife Edith Lucy, née Payne. He was educated at Lowestoft municipal secondary school and worked as a pupil-teacher in the local council school before migrating to Australia at the age of 19. He reached Melbourne in the autumn of 1912, then travelled through the eastern States and on to New Guinea. According to his father, his interest in nature and geography led to his migration and his journeys after arrival.

When World War I broke out Castleton was in Port Moresby and, on offering his services to the Papuan administration, worked with native troops preparing for coastal defence; he also helped to man the Moresby wireless station. On 11 March 1915 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at Sydney, stating his occupation as prospector. He was posted to the 18th Battalion and sailed for Egypt in June. His unit, which was to serve with the 2nd Brigade until the evacuation, reached Gallipoli on 6 August and on the 22nd took part in the attack on Hill 60. Castleton was promoted corporal on 7 December and temporary sergeant in February 1916. On 8 March, soon after his arrival in France, he was transferred to the 5th Australian Machine-Gun Company and was confirmed in his rank. He served on the Somme with this unit and on the night of 28 July took part in an attack on enemy trenches at Pozières Heights. The Australian advance was stopped by machine-gun fire and shelling, and for three hours troops lay out in No Man's Land under withering fire. Castleton twice brought back wounded men but, while bringing in a third, was hit in the back and killed instantly. He was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously, and was buried in the Pozières British cemetery at Ovillers-la-Boiselle, France. He was unmarried.

Select Bibliography

  • C. E. W. Bean, The Australian Imperial Force in France, 1916 (Syd, 1929)
  • L. Wigmore (ed), They Dared Mightily (Canb, 1963)
  • London Gazette, 26 Sept 1916
  • Castleton file (Australian War Memorial).

Citation details

J. K. Haken, 'Castleton, Claud Charles (1893–1916)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 27 January 2023.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (Melbourne University Press), 1979

View the front pages for Volume 7

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2023

Claud Castleton, c.1915

Claud Castleton, c.1915

Australian War Memorial, H06769

Life Summary [details]


12 April, 1893
Kirkley, Suffolk, England


28 July, 1916 (aged 23)
Pozieres, France

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