Victoria Cross : Lance Corporal Bernard Sidney Gordon, 41 Battalion, AIF

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Bray Proyart Area, Bray-sur-Somme
Accession Number REL35600.001
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Award
Physical description Bronze
Location Main Bld: Hall of Valour: Main Hall: Somme Advance 1918
Maker Hancocks
Place made United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London
Date made c 1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Victoria Cross. Engraved on reverse with recipient's details.

History / Summary

Bernard Sidney 'Bernie' Gordon was born at Launceston, Tasmania on 16 August 1891 and enlisted in the AIF in September 1915. Although not always a model soldier when out of the line, Gordon soon demonstrated his considerable courage and initiative while fighting on the Western Front. He was first wounded in France in October 1917, and in August 1918 his conduct beyond Le Hamel earned him the Military Medal. Less than three weeks later came the action for which he received the Victoria Cross.

During an attack to advance the Australian line towards Fargny Wood, Gordon assaulted an enemy machine-gun post, then cleaned up a trench, capturing 29 prisoners and two more machine guns. In further actions he cleared other trenches, in all capturing 63 of the enemy and six machine guns. He provided 'a wonderful example of fearless initiative'. The recommendation for the Victoria Cross reads:

'During the operations of the 26/27th August, 1918, East of Bray, this N.C.O. showed most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in the face of the enemy.

He led his Section through heavy enemy shelling to its objective, which he consolidated. Then single handed he attacked an enemy Machine Gun which was enfilading the Company on his right, killed the man on the gun, and captured the post which contained one Officer (a Captain) and 10 men. After handing those over at Company Headquarters he returned alone to the old system of trenches, in which were many Machine Guns, entered a C.T., and proceeded to mop it up, returning with 15 prisoners in one squad and 14 in another, together with two Machine Guns. Again he returned to the system, this time with a T.M. [Trench Mortar] gun and crew, and proceeded to mop up a further portion of the trench, bringing in 22 prisoners including one Officer and 3 Machine Guns. This last capture enable the British troops on our Left to advance, which they had not been able to do owing to Machine Gun fire from these posts.

His total captures were thus 2 Officers and 61 Other Ranks, together with 6 Machine Guns, and with the exception of the Trench Mortar assistance it was absolutely an individual effort and done entirely on his own initiative.’

Gordon was wounded again in fighting near Mont St Quentin a few days later, effectively ending his active service. Returning to Australia in March 1919 he became a Queensland dairy farmer and the father of nine children. He died at Torquay, Queensland on 19 October 1963, aged 72 years.

Gordon's Victoria Cross is accompanied by the Military Medal and coronation medals for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II. His service medals for the First World War are not held by the Memorial.