ART09489

Image copyright: © Australian War Memorial,
Creative Commons License This image is licensed under CC BY-NC

ID number ART09489
Title Private William Currey, VC
Collection Art
Object type Painting
Artist Longstaff, John
Place made Australia: New South Wales, Sydney
Date made 1928
Medium oil on canvas
Measurement framed: 92.8 x 80.4 cm; image: 76 x 73.5 cm
On display Main building: Hall of Valour: Main Hall

Description

A portrait of Private William Matthew Currey, VC, 53rd Infantry Battalion.The Victoria Cross is prominently displayed on Currey's chest. Longstaff has highlighted the medal by matching its ribbon to the dark burgundy background.

William Currey was born 19 September 1895 at Wallsend, New South Wales, and at the time of his enlistment, he worked in Sydney as a wireworker. After several attempts to enlist while under-age, he was accepted in 1916. Currey would go on to earn a Victoria Cross and the King George VI Coronation Medal for his service. In the attack on PĂ©ronne, 1 September 1918, Currey's company was taking casualties from a field gun at close range. He ran forward under fire, captured the gun and killed the crew. Later, when the advance was checked by an enemy strongpoint, Currey moved around the flank with a Lewis gun, inflicting casualties and dispersing the enemy. Early next morning he volunteered to relay orders to an isolated unit: proceeding into no man's land, he called out, drawing enemy fire. Despite being gassed and having his respirator holed, he returned safely. After the war Currey served in politics and in 1941 became the first Victoria Cross recipient in the New South Wales parliament, retaining his seat until his death in 1948.

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