Charles was born Dunedin 21 December 1888, the son of William Henry Duke and Annie Thorne Duke (nee Ceslin).
Pre-war Educated at Waitaki Boys High School & Otago University. On leaving school he joined the architectural firm of Salmond and Vanes and qualified as an architect in 1911. He then went to Australia and worked as a journalist in Sydney and Orange, NSW.
He volunteered for war service on 2 September and joined the 4th Battalion, 1st Brigade of the Australian Imperial Forces as a private.
He served at Gallipoli and was wounded three times before being relieved of that role. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant in late 1915 and transferred to 5 Pioneer Battalion.
He then served in France till end of war.
Charles was awarded the Military Cross in 1918 for his actions during heavy shelling on 9 July and his later efforts to remove the wounded. He married an Australian nursing Sister, Marjorie Grace Little in Aberdeen in late 1918. (He had family relations in Aberdeen). Marjorie was born in 1887.
Charles returned to NZ and with a cousin, began farming at Collingwood on a rehabilitation farm. Caught by the slump when butterfat fell from 2/8d a pound to 8d and with a mortgage of £6500, the returns were not enough to support two families. Later his cousin gave up and sold the farm back to the original owner for £2000. Charlie then moved to Nelson to practise as an architect and was appointed supervisor and clerk of works on the building of the new hospital. He also supervised the building of the Trafalgar St. Bridge on behalf of the city engineer, J.G. Littlejohn. Later he joined W. Houlker as partner in an architectural firm and became an Associate of the NZ Institute of Architects. He also qualified as a valuer and admitted as a Fellow of the NZ Institute of Valuers. For 12 years until 1950 he acted as consulting valuer to the Nelson City Council when rates were assessed on land value. In 1950 Council changed to capital value rating based on government valuations. He continued as a valuer and in 1963 took Peter G. Cooke into partnership, forming Duke and Cooke, a company that continues to operate under that name. In 1965 he married a second time to Joan Sidford in Waikanae. Charles Duke joined the 50th Anniversary pilgrimage to Gallipoli in 1965. His Gallipoli memoirs were published in the Nelson Evening Mail on that date and again more recently in 2014. The full memoirs are transcribed and attached to his record in the WW1 exhibition at Nelson Provincial Museum.
Active member of the RSA and the Gallipoli Veterans Assn; President of Nelson RSA from 1931 to 1939; Active in the Territorial Force as a Captain. During WW2 served as Officer Commanding Nelson, Marlborough, West Coast District with rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. For this service he was awarded the Efficiency Decoration presented by General Freyberg.
In the 1920s he became a keen yachtsman and sailed regularly on the keeler Poseidon owned by City Engineer Brown. Later played bowls at the RSA Club and was a member of the Nelson Golf Club for 49 years, for many years on the committee. Member of the Nelson Club from 1928 to his death 19 May 1970, president in 1949-50 and elected a life member 1969. President of the Nelson Garrison Band during the 1940s and helped administer the Renwick Pensioner Cottages. Charles and Marjorie had three sons: William L. Duke, Kawerau (deceased); Robert E Duke, Auckland (deceased); Peter L. Duke, (in Blenheim for many years and now resident in New Plymouth close to his son Charles Robert Duke). Charlie Duke’s grandparents arrived in Dunedin on the Palmyra in 1858. His father was three years old. His grandfather joined the Gabriel’s Gully gold rush.
Charles died in Nelson 19 May 1970 aged 81.