Lt. Col. Charles Denehy was a soldier and schoolteacher. Born in inner city Carlton, Charles matriculated from Parade College East Melbourne in 1895 and later joined the Victorian Education Department.
Charles enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on August 15, 1914 and was commissioned second lieutenant in the 7th Battalion. After training in Egypt the battalion took part in the landing at Anzac Cove on April 25, 1915. Charles, now a lieutenant, was wounded during the landing and evacuated via Egypt to England.
Charles rejoined his unit in September, was promoted captain in October, and took charge of the last elements from the 7th during the successful evacuation from Gallipoli.
He arrived in France with the recently formed 57th Battalion in June 1916 but was transferred to temporary command of the 58th, just in time to take part in the battle of Fromelles in which the unit suffered heavy casualties. On August 27, he was confirmed as commanding officer of the 58th Battalion and promoted Lieutenant-Colonel.
Charles commanded this battalion throughout 1917 and, following the heavy fighting at Bullecourt in May, was awarded the Distinguished Service Order 'for conspicuous gallantry and ability'. He was gassed near Ypres in October and was invalided for one month.
Charles returned to the 57th unit during the offensives of August-October and particularly distinguished himself in the fighting around Bellicourt during the breaching of the Hindenburg line.
After the Armistice, he studied at the Sorbonne and developed a lifelong interest in the French language. He returned to Australia in January 1920.
Charles resumed school teaching duties at Rutherglen in 1926-34 and Westgarth Central in 1935-45. Although he had reached retirement age in 1944 he continued at Middle Park Central until 1956 and at his old school, Parade, until 1959.
At the age of 82, he had the honour of leading the 1962 Anzac Day march in Melbourne.
Peer Year 1895