Charles Oscar Axen was born in Karlsborg, Sweden in December 1880 and arrived in Melbourne on the Orotana on 13 March 1902. He lived at High Camp for nine years, Western Australia for two years and Pyalong for two years, occupation labourer. Charles married Eleanor Maud Lawrence in 1905 and by 1916 they had four children.
At age 35 years Charles enlisted on 20 January 1916 at Melbourne and after training embarked for overseas on 16 July on the HMAT Suffolk. Before he left Charles became an Australian citizen in June 1916.
After a short period in England, Charles joined his Battalion, the 7th, in the Somme in November 1916 and within a month he was suffering trench fever. In January 1917 he was transferred to Horton Hospital, near London, and later to the 67th Battalion in a training role. Charles was promoted to Lance Corporal in April 1917.
Charles returned to France in October 1917 to take part in defending the German Spring Offensive. On 9 June 1918 he was promoted to Corporal. During the early days of the Allied Hundred Days Offensive, the 7th fought a major action at Lihons and on the first day, 9 August, Charles received gun shot wounds in his left leg. Within four days he was admitted to the Cambridge Hospital in Aldershot, England. After recovering and taking leave, he embarked on the HT Karmala on 2 January 1919 for Melbourne where he was discharged on 1 April.
On Friday 7 March 1919 at the High Camp hall, a large attendance of local citizens gave Charles a warm reception and presented him with a sum of money in appreciation of his three years active service.
Charles received the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and 1914/15 Star. His name is recorded on the Pyalong Shire Honour Roll and at the Glenaroua Public Hall. The Axen family later moved to Mildura where Charles died in 1955.
Reproduced in the North Central Review, 3 March 2015, p10