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Charles Neil NICOLSON

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Pte 58136 18 Nov 1899 18y5m 25 May 1918 14 Dec 1919 3

Private Charles Neil Nicolson1 (1899 - 1975)


Family background and early life

Charlie Nicolson was the youngest of seven children of John Nicolson and Annie Clark Nicolson née Macdonald.  He was born on 12 December 1899 at Maytown, now a ghost town in the old Palmer River Goldfields west of Cooktown.  The Nicolson family later moved to Bowen where his mother died when Charles was only 11 years old.  

Charles had four older brothers, one of whom died while an infant, and two older sisters. The oldest brother lived at Argyle Park, Bowen while Charlie’s other two brothers enlisted in the AIF to serve in Belgium and the Somme River in Europe. Both were killed in action in 1917. By that time Charles had become a Labourer and had served in Senior Cadets and Citizen Force units.

Enlistment and service

When Charles Nicolson was old enough to join the AIF, he reported to the Enlisting Office in Adelaide Street, Brisbane in May 1918.  As his brothers had done, Charles named his oldest brother Angus of Argyle Park Bowen as next-of-kin.  Charles was 18 years and 4 months old and the Enlisting Officer, Major Percy Adsett wrote to Angus Nicolson requesting him to fill in an attached form of consent for his brother’s enlistment.  A. D. Nicolson returned the signed form and Charles Neil Nicolson’s application for enlistment was accepted.

He was grouped with General Service Reinforcements and sent to Sydney for embarkation on HMAT Bakara on 4 September 1918 for active service.  He was admitted to the ship’s hospital during the voyage to London to recover from influenza.

Private Charlie Nicolson arrived in London on 14 November 1918, three days after The Armistice.  For a short time he joined the 9th Battalion and the Australian Depot Unit in France.  

On return to England in May 1919 he was granted leave with pay to gain farming experience at Killin, Perthshire, Scotland.  

Return to Australia

Private Nicolson returned to Australia per HMAT Devon, disembarking at Melbourne on 27 November 1919.  He was discharged from the AIF in Brisbane on 14 December.

Charlie Nicolson returned to Bowen where he was listed as a Farmer in the 1922 Electoral Roll.  By 1925 he was boarding at the YMCA in Edward Street Brisbane and working as a Salesman.

Marriage and family

On 9 November 1929 Charles Neil Nicolson married Mai Haselwood Le Marchand, a typist. They had four children, Gyneth, Rhyl, John Kingsley Le Marchand and Melva, all born in Brisbane.  

World War II

Charles continued his merchandising work in Gympie then Atherton and when the Second World War broke out, he again enlisted for service in the Australian Army2.  His wife and family lived at Hawthorne Street, Enoggera during the war years.

Post war working life

Back in civilian life in Yeerongpilly Charles was a Machinery Representative.  In 1958, the Nicolson family had moved to 492 Ipswich Road, Annerley.  Charles was a sales representative; his son John had become an assistant surveyor and daughter Melva a machinist.

At the end of his working days Charles remained in sales as a Company Representative while he and Mai lived at 61 Hargreaves Avenue, Chelmer.


Following Mai’s death in Brisbane on 25 March 1973, Charles Nicolson moved to Brookfield for a while then joined his son John and family in Canberra where he died on 26 July 1975. His four children, Gyneth Firth, Rhyl Peters, John Nicolson and Melva Green survived him.

1. C. N. Nicolson’s name is incorrectly spelt on the honour board.
2. Service No Q187577; service records “not yet examined” 

• National Archives of Australia, military records
• Queensland Register of Births, Deaths, Marriages
• New South Wales Register of Births, Deaths, Marriages
• Electoral Rolls, 1922 to 1972
• Ancestry Family Records on line
The Canberra Times, 28 July 1975

Compiled by Noel E. Adsett, Brisbane.  December, 2015 ©



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