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The Great Fallen: Charles Oliver

Remembering Croft McKenzie The precious wartime diaries of former Carlton footballer Private Croft McKenzie have been made available to the club by his descendants, some 98 years after he first put pen to paper. (Narrated by Sam Docherty)

Captain Charles Joseph Oliver
Army Medical Corps
Died Melbourne, Victoria, December 29, 1917, aged 44 years
One game for Carlton, 1900

A practising doctor who joined the Australian Army Medical Corps during World War 1, Charles Joseph ‘Doc’ Oliver was one of eleven Carlton footballers to be killed while on military service in that conflict.

Charles died following a tragic mishap outside Seymour army camp, two days after Christmas 1917. Riding a borrowed horse, he was returning to camp from the nearby township when the horse shied and threw him.

Charles fell heavily onto the paved road, and was found unconscious a few minutes later. Quickly taken to his own hospital, he was at first diagnosed with severe concussion, but soon lapsed into a coma and was transferred to the Base Military Hospital in St Kilda Road, Melbourne.

There, specialists found that Charles had a fractured skull. He didn’t regain consciousness, and died of a cerebral haemorrhage on the afternoon of December 29. He was given a military funeral and buried at the Williamstown cemetery two days later.

Seventeen years earlier - as a young medical student - Charles  played at centre half-forward in his first and only match for the Carlton Football Club; against Melbourne on the MCG in Round 10, July 1900. His team was beaten by 35 points, but Charles kicked a goal and joined that exclusive list of special young men to have worn the Navy Blue.

The son of Robert and Emily Ann (nee Parkinson) Oliver, Charles was born in Sofala north of Bathurst in New South Wales. He was educated at Melbourne University and after graduation set up practice in Quambatook on the Avoca River. As a footballer, he had first represented Melbourne Juniors and then Carlton Imperials prior to his recruitment to Carlton.