National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

Joining Up with a Sense of Duty or for a Bit More Pay

Charles Bluett

Charles Bluett

Charles Bluett was born on 24 December 1890 in Whakatane.

At the outbreak of World War One, Charles Bluett was working as a labourer with his brother Jack in Whakatane and when reports of casualties from overseas reached home, many men were shocked into joining up.

Charles Bluett enlisted on 24 July 1916, aged 26 and completed training at Trentham, Featherston and Tauherenikau Camps. Perhaps enjoying the nightlife a little too much, Charles was docked his pay on two occasions for staying out too long on leave however he soon received his posting orders and embarked from Wellington on 15 November 1916 aboard the Maunganui bound for England, arriving at Devonport on 29 January 1917.

Further training at Sling Camp was followed by a journey across the channel to France on 1 March 1917, arriving at Etaples two days later.

Three weeks later, he experienced his first taste of action with the Auckland Infantry Battalion but two months later, he was back to his old tricks, being docked his pay for missing a parade.

He survived the awful battles at Passchendaele in October 1917 and for his efforts, was given leave in England for three weeks.

Once back with the unit, the NZ Division began preparation for the final push in March 1918 and found themselves back on the Somme.

On 27 March 1918, the New Zealand Division marched through Mailly-Mailet and reached Colincamps where they encountered the Germans. Intense machine gun fire held up the advance and this was followed up by an infantry attack on the Aucklanders. At some stage of the battle, Charles Bluett was killed in action, possibly by an artillery bombardment. The attack would later be repulsed and gains made but the body of Charles Bluett would never be recovered.

31942 Private Charles Bluett is commemorated on the Grevillers (New Zealand) Memorial, Grevillers British Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France.

He is also commemorated on a panel at the Whakatane Memorial Rest Room at the base of the Pohaturoa Rock.