Shortly after 3.10 am on the 4th of July, 1918 at Hamel, France, a young Lewis Gunner, a Queenslander from Atherton, won the 1000th V.C.

 

THIS IS THE EVENT THAT BROUGHT HIM RECOGNITION. NOT THAT HE SOUGHT TO BE RECOGNISED AS HE ALWAYS REMAINED HUMBLE ABOUT HIS ACHIEVEMENT.

 

1355 V.C.s have been awarded (different figures are recorded in different accounts), but only 1352 men are involved, because 3 were awarded V.C.s twice. A New Zealand soldier was one of these.

A very good account of Harry’s life and times is covered in the piece by Harry Willey .

 

Read Harry’s own account written in 1942, titled “My V.C.”

 

It was normal when storming machine guns posts that the Germans would fire until the last minute inflicting as many casualties as possible.

 

They didn’t stop firing till they were stopped.

 

Generally, the Australians took no prisoners under such circumstances.

 

An item of the times is the 1918 King George V Australian penny. See a photo of a King George V Australian penny on the Visual Memorabilia Page

 

On Sunday 25 August 1918, the article “Never Mind the V.C.” appeared in the Sydney SUN. You can read the article on the “Newspaper Articles” Page.

 

Harry’s mother speaking:

“Of course, I’m wonderfully proud of my ‘soldier boy’ as he always described himself in his letters but, NEVER MIND THE V.C., I just want my boy home safe and well”.

 

From Eacham Historical Society Bulletin 72 July 1982:

Harry’s friend, Bill R., said he saw his mate hit, his helmet thrown to the edge of the trench with a hole big enough in the helmet to put a fist through. He called for the ambulance.

 

In the days & months after Harry received his head wound at Hamel (4th July 1918):

 

– By the 8th July, he was in Hospital in Rouen, France. Americans had taken over the Hospital.

– Life saving surgery was performed by an American Doctor, Dr Warren R. Rainey from University Club Buildings Saint Louis M.O. (Missouri).

 

– See doctors note saying “operation successful”.

 

– From France September 19th to England to the 4th London General Hospital, Denmark Hill, London which catered for both military and civilian patients.

– Taken to Buckingham Palace by car 13th December 1918

– Left England on 5th January 1919 for Australia.

See photo of Harry Dalziel V.C. and Sister Elizabeth Mosey after both being invested with their Awards at Buckingham Palace.  Elizabeth Mosey was awarded the Royal Red Cross 2nd Class Medal also by Royal Warrant of Queen Victoria in 1883.  Florence Nightingale was the first recipient. The image of George V appears on the Medal.  This is awarded for exceptional service in military nursing. 

 

Could it be Christmas decorations on the tree to right in the photo where the two were standing in front of the London hospital where I believe Harry was a patient.

 

On the Trove Items Page, see the 19th December 1918 article about Dalziel VC. Articles provided by Mrs James Dalziel of Wolfram.

Private HENRY DALZIEL, V.C. in The Northern Herald (Cairns, Qld. : 1913 – 1939), 19 Dec 1918

 

Also on the Trove Items Page, dated 23 November 1918, is the article “Come on Lads, We’ve Got ‘em Guessing”. A thrice won VC.

 

What would it take to do what Harry did on that early morning of 4th July?

It would take great strength and athletic ability, courage and endurance, under very heavy artillery, machine gun and sniper fire.

He ran, crawled, stumbled, fell into shell holes for possibly a kilometre or more during this part of the action.

Imagine the deafening, continuing noise.

Harry said he was wounded 32 times during the war.

 

The Australian Imperial Force, the A.I.F. , was an entirely volunteer army and refused to vote for conscription.

 

Harry was designated Driver because at one stage before his Lewis Gun action he had a job of driving a horse drawn vehicle which moved ammunition from parachute drops to the troops.

At the bottom of the World War I Page is a video showing a Lewis Gun being fired.

 

See art work Capture of Hamel Village where you see tanks and planes involved in the action. Capture of Hamel village 4 July 1918 by A.Pearse, War Artist

 

Finally a sniper bullet.

He said he got a “wallop in the top story”.

See the Citation on the Home Page.

 

Harry lived for 47 years after the war even with a terrible head injury, a significant piece of skull was missing.

He was classified as Totally and Permanently Incapacitated but he found ways to live life differently. When he marched on Anzac Day or went for a family walk he walked briskly.

 

Perhaps John Monash’s words say it all.

 

John Monash to his wife, from Gallipoli:

 

“I am convinced that there no troops in the world to equal the Australians for cool daring, courage and endurance.”

 

The Cricketer, Keith Miller, the highly gifted Aussie all rounder and Flight Lieutenant who flew Mosquitoes over Germany in WW2 said to Michael Parkinson.

“There is no pressure in Test Cricket”,

“Real pressure is when you’re flying a Mosquito with a Messerschmitt up your arse”.

Irreverent of course.

For cricket fans there’s a great article,“Miller the swashbuckling flight lieutenant”. Find this on the Links to Visual Records Page, at the bottom.

 

Jeff Horn is an example of a quiet boy who was bullied during his school years, took up boxing, rising to the top to win a world title. Find this on the Links to Visual Records Page, at the bottom.

 

Including Keith Miller and Jeff Horn in this tribute is a little off topic. Nonetheless their stories are interesting and there is something to take away from each story.

 

Harry was a happy, healthy, well liked young man. He rose to the heights of heroism in WWI.

 

See Harry’s account in “My V.C.”

THIS IS THE CENTREPIECE OF THIS WHOLE WEBPAGE

 

August 1918 James Snr worked as tool sharpener at Wolfram Camp for Thermo Company.

 

Hamel was the Turning Point of the War. That’s the title of the DVD that every Australian is encouraged to seek out. See the details HERE

 

Lieutenant General Sir John Monash was knighted by King George V in France in 1918. Generally, knighting was performed at Buckingham Palace.

Hamel was unlike any previous WWI battle. It was a total contrast to the previous encounters led by what Australian Historian John Laffin called “ butchers and bunglers”.

Actually it was a short battle of 93 mins. Some claimed it was over in less than 93 mins. Some said it took less than 93 mins to accomplished all key objectives.

 

THE EXACT TIME in 2018 when it is the 100 year anniversary of Harry’s action.

 

Wednesday 4th July, 2018 falls in the first week of the July School Holidays.

 

These are the Queensland State School Holidays.

On that day at 3.10 am 2018 at Hamel, France it will be 100 years since Harry’s extraordinary action.

In Queensland the equivalent time to France 🇫🇷 3.10am is 11.10 am.

 

So, in Queensland time Hamel began at 11.10 am, (when 700 cannon opened fire, the noise so loud you couldn’t hear your own shout said one soldier),finishing before 1.00 pm.