Born in Calcutta, Charles Samuel Flanagan Carroll came from a family with a long tradition of service in the Indian Army. He was educated at Lawrence College and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. At GG he participated in athletics; considered a top sprinter he also played football for the school.
Commissioned into the Indian Army on his return to India, he first served as was the custom for young officers before joining their Indian Regiment, with the Worcestershire Regiment. He was then posted to the 4th/6th Ghurka Rifles with which he served almost continually for five years, apart for a short spell with the 56th Ghurka Rifles. He was admired by the Ghurkas for his calm and deliberate manner, his command of their language and his sense of fun and fair play.
As an Army friend remarked of Carroll, “Nothing ever seemed to rattle Charles.” He went with his battalion to Burma in 1944 and saw plenty of action there. In 1945 he led a bayonet charge at Mindegon, south of Mandalay in which he and his Ghurkas killed 80 Japanese soldiers which was considered a Divisional record. For this action he was awarded the Military Cross.
After the war, the 4th Battalion was disbanded and Carroll became adjutant of the 1st Battalion. On Indian independence he transferred to the British Army and two decades later while serving with the 1st/7th Ghurka Rifles in Borneo he captured a notable Indonesian guerrilla leader named Sumbi. One day his patrol came across a deserted camp fire in deep jungle and among the debris an observant rifleman noted a coffee tin label. Since the local tribes drank only tea, this alerted Carroll to the fact that an enemy group was in the vicinity. A methodical search lead him and his men to the stronghold of a Javanese leader called Sumbi where he was captured. On interrogation Sumbi told Carroll that the mission of his well equipped force was to destroy the Seria oil fields and to establish control of the population of Brunei Bay. After the capture of Sumbi his forces were on the run and had to hide in deep jungle where they faced near starvation.
Carroll was not only an expert in jungle warfare, he was also a master of human psychology, by arranging medical care and other necessities for the local tribes he was able to develop friendly relations with them. In return he was given vital information about the movement of the enemy and was able to confront invasion parties and then ambush them when they fled back to their own territory. The Indonesians were using well trained troops and good intelligence and to avoid a full scale war with Indonesia it was essential to give the impression that this jungle warfare was nothing more than a ‘confrontation’ and, the British counter measures were merely defensive. In the event, to counter the Indonesian plans it was necessary for Carroll and his Ghurkas to cross the border and carry the ‘confrontation’ to the enemy. This he did with the utmost secrecy and an International scandal was avoided.
Carroll later attended the Staff College and the Joint Services Staff College and was awarded the OBE. He retired to a village near Alton in Hampshire, wrote a novel based on his military experiences and died in 1992.
Brigadier Charles Carroll. The Telegraph, 9 January 1992. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
Recommendation for Award for Carroll, Charles Samuel Flanagan. National Archives. Retrieved 9 January 2016.