Westgarthtown & WWI





Charles Frederick Penzig



Charles Frederick Penzig (1898-1971) was born at Shanghai in China on 10 April 1898, the son of Charles Frederick August and Marian Charlotte Penzig. August Penzig was born in Melbourne in 1849, shortly after his parents Friedrich and Auguste (née Pabst) Penzig arrived in Australia aboard the Godeffroy with his brothers Eduard and Carl (Charles).

August’s mother died in 1852 and his father Friedrich, later known as Frederick, remarried to Henriette Schulz of Mill Park in 1854. In 1855, he donated £2 towards construction of the church and school building at Westgarthtown and Gottlieb Renner, the schoolteacher at Westgarthtown, held Saturday morning bible and catechism services at Penzig’s house at Mill Park until the Penzig family moved to Burwood in 1856. August had a younger sister Louisa, born in 1852, but she died of tuberculosis in 1874. Frederick died at Burwood in 1907 and Henriette in 1912.

In 1895, August Penzig married his cousin, Marian Penzig. Born in Queensland in 1866, Marian was the daughter of August’s uncle Charles and his second wife, Mary (née McGauvran) Penzig, who married at Bowen in 1865. August Penzig lived in Shanghai, where he was a lighthouse keeper, so they lived there after their marriage. Charles, their only child, was born in Shanghai three years later. Following August’s death in the United States in 1907, Marian returned to Melbourne from Shanghai with Charles and lived at Albert Park.

Charles Penzig applied to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) at the Melbourne Town Hall on 29 April 1916 and passed his medical examination the same day. He gave his age as 18, occupation as salesman and religion as Methodist. He had previously served four years in the Senior Cadets at Albert Park Primary School. He took his oath of allegiance on 2 May and was allocated to the 21st Reinforcements, 5th Battalion, Private No. 6636a. After training at Castlemaine and Broadmeadows, he embarked for England on the Nestor on 2 October 1916 and arrived at Plymouth on 16 November.

Early in 1917, Charles was disciplined several times, for offences such as being absent from parade at Lark Hill and attempting to communicate with a prisoner and failing to answer roll call at Durrington. He was confined to barracks for nine days and forfeited ten days pay. After further training, he left for France on 13 August 1917 and was taken on strength of the 21st Battalion, 6th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Division on 29 August.

Charles was wounded in action three times during the First World War. On 3 October 1917, at Broodseinde Ridge near Ypres in Belgium, he received a gunshot wound to his right shoulder. He was evacuated to Birmingham in England on 22 October and did not return to the Western Front until 15 February 1918. He then served in France with the 21st Battalion from 19 February until 3 June, when he received an unspecified wound. He was wounded for the third time on 4 July 1918, during the Battle of Hamel, when he received a shell or gunshot wound to his ear and was sent to Plymouth in England for treatment.

On 6 October 1918, Charles returned to France and was taken on strength of the 6th Battalion, the 21st Battalion having been ordered to disband following heavy losses of men killed and injured during the previous three months. He remained there until 9 April 1919 when he left for England. Charles embarked for Australia on 4 July aboard the Norman and arrived back in Melbourne on 18 August 1919. He was discharged from the AIF on 2 October 1919.

Charles was living at Elwood and a telephone mechanic at Melbourne’s Central Exchange when he enlisted in the Militia in November 1929. In 1932, then a Sergeant in 3rd Division Signals, he signed on for further three years and served until January 1936. In the same year he married Annie Grace Smith. His mother Marian had died in Melbourne in 1935 and was buried at Burwood.

Charles enlisted again during he Second World War (V368257) but details of his service are not known. His wife Annie died in 1960 and he died in 1971 aged 73. Both were cremated at Springvale.