Herbert John Choles, clerk in the Department of Agriculture, was the son of Major Frederick John Choles, military engineer, and his wife Johanna Jane Choles, born Vale. He passed the matriculation examination of the University of the Cape of Good Hope in 1900 and in December 1901 was appointed on probation as a clerk in the office of the Minister of Agriculture of Natal Colony. His appointment was confirmed in December 1902. From January 1905 he was entrusted with the compilation of agricultural statistics. Around this time he applied for an increase in salary in consideration of his knowledge of shorthand. Following the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 he was appointed acting assistant editor of the Agricultural Journal (Union of South Africa) in 1911. Subsequently he was appointed as first grade clerical assistant and acting editor of publications in the Department of Agriculture of the Union of South Africa in April 1912. By 1913 he was a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society. In 1919 he applied for permission to contribute articles on farming matters to private journals. He was married to Louise Bendzulla, with whom he had a daughter
Choles's contributions to the scientific literature included a series of articles on "Sugar-cane in South Africa" in the Agricultural Journal (Union of South Africa, 1913, Vol. 5, 49 pp.); and articles on "The ancient lakes of the Kalahari" and "The South African boot and shoe industry" in the South African Journal of Industries (1921).