Qualification badge: Bomb thrower, Australian Army - Sergeant D E Coyne, 31 Battalion, AIF

Accession Number REL/18691
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Badge
Physical description Cotton, Wool
Location Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Western Front 1917: Prisoners of War/Gallantry
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1917
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Embroidered red cotton flaming grenade on a khaki wool serge cloth backing.

History / Summary

Bomb thrower's qualification badge of 3347 Sergeant David Emmett Coyne, 31 Battalion, AIF. This badge indicates Coyne’s successful graduation from bombing school. On 16 June 1917 he qualified as an instructor or assistant instructor at the 40th course of Instructions at the Southern Command Bombing School at Lyndhurst, England.

Coyne, a farmer from Mackay in Queensland, joined the AIF in January 1916 as a 20 year old, and embarked as part of the 7th reinforcements to 31 Battalion, joining the unit on the Somme in December 1916. By 1918 he had seen considerable service and had become an expert in bombing (grenades). On 15 May 1918 he was seriously injured, receiving over 20 wounds when he attempted to protect his comrades by smothering a grenade with his body that he had thrown but that had rolled back into the trench. He subsequently died of his injuries and was buried at Vignacourt British Cemetery near Amiens.

For his bravery he was recommended for the Victoria Cross but since the enemy played no part in the act, he was posthumously awarded the Albert Medal in gold, the only such award conferred on a member of the AIF.

The recommendation for the award reads: 'At VAIRE-SOUS-CORBIE at 9.30 pm on the 15.5.18 Sergeant Coyne was in a platoon post in the support line. Being doubtful as to the quality of some Mills Grenades in the trench, he decided to test some by throwing one over the parapet. He did so, but by some mischance or other the grenade fell back into the trench amongst a Lewis Gun team. Coyne cried "Go for your lives boys, the bomb is in the trench" and endeavoured to find the bomb in order to throw it out of the trench. Owing to the darkness he could not put his hand on the bomb, which had rolled some little distance away. Realising the danger to his mates who had not got clear of the trench, he threw himself on top of the bomb which exploded, inflicting on him injuries from which he has since died. His last words to the men around him were "I laid on the bomb. I thought you didn't have time to get out." He undoubtedly sacrificed his life in order to save those of his comrades around him. It was a splendid example of cold blooded bravery.'