Charles Frederick Giles Chopin

First Name: 
Middle Name: 
Frederick Giles
Last Name: 
Alternate Spelling: 
Date of Birth: 
Thursday, November 30, 1899
Mother's Name: 
Emilie Sarah Giles
Father's Name: 
Frederick Charles Chopin
Date Enlisted: 
Monday, July 16, 1917
Rank at Enlistment: 
Rank at Discharge: 
Lance Corporal
17th Battalion
21st Reinforcement
1914/ 15 Star
Victory Medal
British War Medal
Date of Death: 
Wednesday, October 2, 1918
Place of Death: 
Somme, Picardie, France
Cause of Death: 
Killed in action

Charles Frederick Giles Chopin (Service No 7134) was born in Bega, N.S.W.

His father Frederick Chopin was headmaster of Shellharbour Public School and reputedly a nephew of the famous composer.

‘Mr Chopin’s eldest son Charles has entered camp this week, having offered his services to his country' Charles enlisted in the AIF on 16 July 1917 claiming he was 18 years and 3 months, a year older than his actual age.  He joined the 17th Battalion, and his mates nicknamed him ‘Chopper’.  Though only in his 17th year he has been so anxious for some time to go, permission has at last been given. Very sincere good wishes will go with him from the Shellharbour people, his father having been for many years the esteemed Principal of the Shellharbour school, who takes a general interest in his pupils advancement and welfare’. Kiama Independent and Shoalhaven Advertiser 5 September 1917.

'The people of Shellharbour gave Charles and Private William James a send-off in September; decorating the hall at Shellharbour with flags, greenery and lilies.  The National Anthem was sung, the ladies provided a generous supper and a dance was held. Mr Thomas and Mr Charles Bursill expressed their good wishes and spoke of the esteem in which the lads were held in the district.  The soldiers received inscribed gold medals presented by the residents of Shelharbour'  (Kiama Independent and Shoalhaven Advertiser 26 September 1917)

About 12 months after his arrival in Europe, the 17th Battalion was subject to shelling, bombing and gassing as they moved to Joncourt. The Beaurevoir Line was the last of a series of German defensive lines known collectively by the Allies as the Hindenburg Line.  The attack on the Hindenburg Line occurred 3 October 1918.  The Australians were to seize the village of Beaurevoir, the British Montbrehain.  The action at Montbrehain was the last battle fought by Australian infantry during the war.  Eight officers and 216 soldiers of the 17th Battalion lost their lives in this battle. 

Several of Charles’ comrades gave testimony that they saw him killed in action;  ‘I knew Chopin.  He was a Lance Corporal in the 17th Battalion A.I.F.  He was killed at the time we took the Hindenburg line.  I did not see him killed myself, but this fact was generally known to be so.  He was standing in a trench with a machine gun on the parapet when he was shot through the head.  This was told me by the men in his battalion.  The accident occurred near Peronne’. Informant: Pte 6796 F. Ferguson, 18th Battn, A.I.F.

 ‘I saw Kilminster killed instantly (hit in head) and Chopin badly wounded (head and chest) at Joncourt Oct.3rd about 6.30 am during the hop-over and in the thick of the fight about 20 yards from me, by shell.  They were both in my platoon (C.IX) and were in a Lewis gun team. Sutcliffe, another of the team, was killed by the same shell.  Chopin was taken out by, I think, Snowy Richards and another.  Kilminster was buried near where he fell and Chopin near 6th Field Ambulance where he died’.  Informant: Col A. Braye. 6780 17th Battn, C.Co A.I.F.

From all accounts Charles’ friend Private Irving was with him when he was hit and remained with him until he died.  ‘This occurred in a dip in the ground and his body was taken into the neighbouring village and buried in the little military cemetery.  Witness saw the grave on the 4 October, marked with a stick, and the carpenter later made a cross’.  Information: Pte H, Dewitt, 6786, 17th Battalion, A.I.F.

Wanda Horky, President, Friends of Chopin Australia Inc.

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