Brigadier General Charles Brand

4 September 1873 - 31 July 1961

ART02999 McInnes, W, Brigadier General Charles Brand (1921), oil on canvas, 66.4 x 59 cm, AWM copyright

Charles Henry Brand was born in Ipswich, Queensland, on 4 September 1873, the fifth child of a farmer. He was educated at Bundaberg and Maryborough State Schools and joined the Department of Public Instruction as a trainee teacher in November 1887.

On 17 February 1898, Brand was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Queensland Volunteer Infantry. On the outbreak of war in South Africa, he enlisted as a sergeant in the 3rd Queensland (Mounted Infantry) Contingent. He served with the Rhodesian Field Force from 26 April 1900 to 25 May 1900. He was promoted to lieutenant on 25 June 1900 and then in the Transvaal from July 1900 to 31 January 1901 participating in the action at Renosterkop on 29 November 1900. He then served in the Orange Free State, the Cape Colony and finally the Transvaal again in January through March 1901. He returned to Australia in June 1901, but in May 1902, he volunteered for a second tour, and became a captain in command of a squadron the 7th Commonwealth Light Horse. However peace was declared before the unit reached South Africa.

On returning to Australia a second time, Brand resumed his pre-war career as a teacher, teaching at Charter Towers State School from 1903 to 1904. He was promoted to captain in the Queensland Volunteer Infantry on 27 March 1903, serving as adjutant from 1 September 1902 to 30 November 1905.

In 1905, Brand joined the permanent forces as a lieutenant and joined the Administrative and Instructional Corps in Melbourne. He was promoted to captain in July 1909. In 1910, he was sent to India on exchange. He served as a General Staff Officer (GSO) at Secunderbad, as Deputy Adjutant and Quartermaster General of the 1st and 2nd Secunderbad Infantry Brigades, as a staff captain with the Secunderbad Cavalry Brigade. He also attended the musketry and transport schools in 1911.

Returning to Australia, Brand was a General Staff Officer (third grade) (GSO3) in Adelaide from 1 September 1911 to 26 November 1913. He was acting commandant of the 4th Military District (South Australia) from 26 November 1913 until 30 June 1914, when he resumed as GSO3.

Brand joined the AIF as a major on 15 August 1914. Major General W. T. Bridges arranged for each of the three infantry brigades of the 1st Division to have a regular officer for a brigade major and he selected Brand as the brigade major of the 3rd Infantry Brigade. Brand embarked for Egypt on board the Orvieto on 21 October 1914. There he became a recognisable sight, going about his duties on a donkey when other transport was scare.

The 3rd Brigade was the first ashore at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915 and Brand came ashore at around 7am. There he met his brigade commander, Colonel E. G. Sinclair-MacLagan who set off for Plugge's Plateau on the left, and sent Brand to the 400 Plateau on the right. On reaching the plateau, Brand was surprised to see a battery of Turkish guns, and sent Lieutenant N. M. Loutit to deal with them. Owing to the somewhat confusing nature of the ground, this took some time, but the guns, three Krupp field pieces, were eventually captured and Brand attempted to create a defensive position on the 400 Plateau at Lone Pine with elements of the 9th and 10th Battalions.

On 16 May 1915, Brand took over temporary command of the 3rd Infantry Battalion. Then on 20 May he was transferred to the 8th Infantry Battalion. The next day he was wounded when a German naval shell struck its headquarters but remained on duty. On 2 June 1915, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO), the first Australian to receive for the Gallipoli campaign. On 14 July 1915, took over command of the 8th Battalion, and was promoted to lieutenant colonel. The 8th Battalion relieved the 6th and 7th Battalions at Steele's Post on 18 July so that they could participate in the attacks on the German Officers' Trench and Lone Pine. The 8th battalion held Steele's Post for the rest of the campaign, except for a rest break on Lemnos in November.

The 8th Battalion moved to the Western Front in March 1916. From 6 to 27 June 1916, Brand was acting commander of the 6th Infantry Brigade, standing in for Brigadier General J. Gellibrand, who had been wounded. After this, Brand was marked for the next brigade appointment, and on 10 July 1916, he succeeded Brigadier General J. Monash in command of the 4th Infantry Brigade, and was promoted to colonel and temporary brigadier general. Brand led the brigade at Pozieres in July 1916. On 1 December 1915, he was promoted to brevet lieutenant colonel in the AMF.

Brand opposed the attack on Bullecourt in April 1917 which cost his brigade 2,339 casualties out of 3,000 engaged, of whom about 1,000 were prisoners. Later Brand and Lieutenant General W. R. Birdwood apologised to the brigade, with tears in their eyes.

The brigade fought at Messines in June. On 6 July 1917, the staff of the 4th Brigade was sitting down to dinner when a German 5.9 inch shell landed among them. The intelligence officer, Lieutenant G. W. Markam was killed and Brand, his brigade major, Major C. M. Johnston, staff captain, Captain H. Thomson, and signal officer, Lieutenant W. Beazley, were all wounded. Brand rejoined the brigade on 18 July and led it at Third Ypres. On 24 September 1917, he was promoted to brevet colonel in the AMF.

During the German Offensive of 1918, the 4th Brigade was sent to cover a gap around Hebuterne, which it held for three weeks. From 9 to 25 July 1918, Brand was acting commander of the 4th Division. During the attack on the Hindenburg Line, Brand was the head of the 109 Australian advisors attached to the US 27th Division and helped lead it through its first battle as a division.

On 5 October 1918 Brand left the 4th Brigade to return to Australia on Anzac Leave. Before sailing for Australia he was invested with the Companion of the Bath (CB), Companion of St Michael and St George (CMG) and Distinguished Service Order (DSO) at Buckingham Palace. For his services he had been mentioned in dispatches eight times. Brand arrived back in Australia on 21 December 1918 and his appointment to the AIF was terminated on 21 February 1919.

From 1919 to 1920, Brand was commandant of the 3rd Military District (Victoria). He was confirmed in the rank of brigadier general on 1 April 1920 and was base commandant of the 2nd Military District (New South Wales) from 1921 to 1925. He became 2nd Chief of the General Staff (CGS) and a member of the Military Board in 1926. From 1928 to 1933 he was Quartermaster General. He retired in 1933 with the rank of major general.

In 1934 Brand won a Victorian Senate seat for the United Australia Party which he held until June 1947. He was most concerned with defence policy and veterans' affairs and was chairman of the Parliamentary Ex-Servicemen's Committee from 1942 to 1947.

Brand died on 31 July 1961 and was cremated with full military honours.

Sources: Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1899-1939, Vol 7, pp. 390-391; AWM 183/9; Bean, C. E. W., The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918. Volume I: The Story of Anzac pp. 134-135, 275, 338-344;Volume II: The Story of Anzac pp. 342-344;Volume IV: The AIF in France 1917 pp. 343, 350-351, 713

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Last update 8 June 2010