Sgt Claude Charles Castleton VC

Claude Charles Castleton was born in Kirkley on 12 April 1893.  After winning a scholarship to Lowestoft Grammar School he became a pupil teacher in a local council school.  In 1912 he went to Melbourne, Australia and worked in various places in Australia for 3 years, before heading to New Guinea, where he intended to earn enough money to return to England via New Zealand, India and Africa. The outbreak of the First World War ended these plans.  He was in Port Moresby where he offered his services to the Papua New Guinea authorities, working with local troops preparing coastal defences and helping to man the wireless station.

In March 1915 Castleton returned to Sydney to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force and was posted to the 18th Battalion. He sailed for Egypt in June and reached Gallipoli in August, where he earned promotion to Corporal on 7 December and Temporary Sergeant in February 1916. On 8th March 1916 after his arrival in France he transferred to the 5th Machine Gun Company, 5th Brigade, 2nd Division. He served on the Somme with his unit and on the night of the 28-29 July 1916 near Pozières, during an attack the infantry was temporarily driven back by the intense machine-gun fire from enemy trenches. Many wounded were left in “No Man’s Land” lying in shell holes. Sergeant Castleton went out twice in the face of this intense fire, and each time brought in a wounded man on his back.  He went out a third time and was bringing in another wounded man when he was himself hit in the back and killed instantly.  He was posthumously awarded a VC for most conspicuous bravery and is buried at Pozieres British Military Cemetery.  The extract from The London Gazette, No. 29765 dated, 26 September 1916, says

He set a splendid example of courage and self-sacrifice