Victoria Cross : Driver Henry 'Harry' Dalziel, 15th Battalion, AIF

Unit 15th Australian Infantry Battalion
Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Amiens Harbonnieres Area, Hamel Area
Accession Number REL43329.001
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Award
Physical description Bronze
Location Main Bld: Hall of Valour: Main Hall: Defence to Offensive
Maker Hancocks
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Victoria Cross. Engraved reverse suspender with recipient's details; reverse cross with date of action.

History / Summary

Henry 'Harry' Dalziel, born in North Queensland on 18 February 1893, was a railway fireman when he enlisted in the AIF as private 1936 in 15 Battalion in January 1915. He was severely wounded in October 1917 and did not return to his unit until June 1918, less than four weeks before his Victoria Cross action.

During the action at Hamel Wood on 4 July 1918, Dalziel advanced with a Lewis gun section before making a single-handed attack on a strong enemy machine-gun post, capturing the gun and its entire crew. Though ordered to the rear for medical attention to a hand wound where he had lost his trigger finger, he instead returned to the fight and under heavy enemy fire collected ammunition and reloaded magazines until he received a severe head wound. The recommendation for the award reads:

'For his magnificent bravery and devotion to duty during operations near HAMEL WOOD East of CORBIE on 4 July 1918.
He was No. 2 of a Lewis Gun Section and at the commencement of our advance, his company met with determined resistance from Pear Trench strong point which was strongly garrisoned and manned by numerous machine guns.
This strong point, undamaged by our artillery fire, was protected by a strong wire entanglement. A heavy concentration of machine gun fire caused heavy casualties and held up our advance.
His Lewis Gun came into action and silenced enemy guns in one direction, when another enemy gun opened up from another direction. Private Dalziel dashed at it and with his revolver killed or captured the entire crew and gun, and allowed our advance to continue. He was severely wounded in the hand, but carried on, and took part in the capture of the final objective.
He twice went over open ground under heavy enemy artillery and machine gun fire to where our aeroplanes had dropped some boxes of ammunition, and carried back a box on each occasion to his gun, and though suffering from considerable loss of blood he filled magazines and served his gun until severely wounded through the head.
His magnificent bravery and devotion to duty was an inspiring example to all his comrades and his dash and unselfish courage at a most critical time undoubtedly save many lives and turned what would have been a severe check into a splendid success.'

To the surprise of many, Dalziel survived his wounds and returned to Australia in March 1919. He married Maude Ramsay in 1920 and for a brief period took up a soldier settlement block but found the life too hard with his wartime injuries. During the Depression he joined the Citizens Military Force and found some fame as a song writer. Henry Dalziel died on 24 July 1965.