Edson, Second Lieutenant Charles Robert

No 22 Sqn RFC

Charles Edson was born in South Australia and was a 21 year old Customs Officer when he enlisted in the AIF Infantry Reinforcements at Keswick, SA on 11 May 1915. He transferred to the 20th Company, Australian Army Service Corps, as a Driver shortly afterwards and departed from Adelaide on HMAT A30 Borda on 23 June. After promotion to Staff Sergeant, he was selected for Officer Training at Cambridge with a view towards service in an Infantry Battalion, and was commissioned in December 1916, after which he was posted to the Western Front. A motor vehicle ran over his foot shortly after arrival in France, and he was moved back to the UK for treatment in hospital, after which he applied for transfer to the AFC and was sent to the RFC’s No 1 Flying School at Reading in April 1917. After graduation as an observer, he was posted to No 22 Sqn RFC on the Western Front.

He was killed in action on 17 August 1917 when flying in an unidentified Bristol F2B flown by Lt W M Turner RFC, who was wounded. In ‘Pi’ in the Sky, a history of No 22 Sqn by Major W F J Harvey, the author says “On the 17th, five Bristols were involved in a desperate air fight in which two were lost and another returned with its pilot wounded and rear gunner dead.” This doesn’t quite accord with Henshaw’s The Sky Their Battlefield, which indicates that A7162 (Lt R Cornford and 2Lt S E Raper, both killed in action) was lost at 09.10, while A7201 (2Lt R S Phelan, wounded and taken prisoner, and Lt J L Macfarlane, taken prisoner and died of wounds) was lost after 18.00. Presumably Turner and Edson’s Bristol was hit at the same time as one of the others, but it isn’t clear just which one.

2Lt C R Edson is buried in Grave III I 21 at Dozinghem Cemetery, Belgium.

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