Distinguished Conduct Medal : Sergeant S Gwynne, 10 Light Horse Regiment, AIF

Place Africa: Egypt, Frontier, Sinai, Magdhaba
Accession Number REL/17374.001
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Award
Physical description Silver
Location Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Sinai Palestine 1917: Desert Patrol
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1917
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Distinguished Conduct Medal (Geo V). Impressed edge with recipient's details.

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History / Summary

Related to the service of Spencer Gwynne, an unmarried farmer born 3 September 1891 at Port Augusta, South Australia, but resident in Western Australia when he enlisted on 1 October 1914 at Guilford, WA, aged 23. Trooper Gwynne was assigned regimental number 413 and put on the strength of the 10th Light Horse Regiment. He embarked on 17 February 1915 from Fremantle as part of the First Reinforcements for the Regiment aboard the transport ‘Surada’; the entire regiment embarked for Gallipoli soon after the reinforcements’ arrival in Egypt, and disembarked at Gallipoli under shrapnel fire on 21 May.

Detachments from the unit were soon sent to reinforce Pope’s Hill and Quinn’s Post; men were involved in its defence against Turkish attacks almost immediately. From 6 June the unit was posted to Walkers Ridge from where they repelled a strong Turkish attack on 28 June. Sickness increased in late June; by 14 July 2 officers and 93 had been evacuated sick. From Russell’s Top in the pre-dawn of 7 August, 10th Light Horse assaulted Turkish positions on the Nek – they formed the 3rd and 4th waves of attack, and were mostly mown down by Turkish rifle and machine gun fire like the first two waves of the 8th Light Horse Regiment. The attack was halted after pleas to higher command. Gwynne may have taken part in these assaults; he was promoted to lance corporal on 16 August. At the end of August the unit was withdrawn to Hill 60 and Rhododendron Spur which it held for the remainder of its time at Gallipoli.

After the evacuation from Gallipoli in December 1915 the regiment was bought up to strength and reorganised. Gwynne was promoted to corporal on 22 January 1916. The 10th Light Horse assisted in defending Egypt from the Ottoman Army advance on the Suez Canal; this advance was turned at the battle of Romani in early August. Thereafter the Turks retreated across the deserts of Sinai, and their defences at El Magdhaba were outflanked and overrun by combined light horse regiments on 23 December.

On 12 December Gwynne had been promoted to sergeant, and it was his actions in saving the life of Second Lieutenant Alexander Urquhart Martin, whose horse had been killed as the 10th Light Horse Regiment charged through the Turkish southern redoubt at Magdhaba, that won Gwynne the Distinguished Conduct Medal. The recommendation for this award reads: “This NCO who was with 2/Lt Cox in the charge through the enemy’s Southern Redoubt showed conspicuous gallantry throughout the action. When 2/Lt Martin’s horse was killed about 70 yards in rear of Redoubt this NCO galloped up and assisted Martin until the arrival of 2/Lt Cox with spare horse where Martin was able to get to safety. During the whole time the three were subjected to a very heavy fire and it was very courageous and gallant of Gwynne to act as he did – he undoubtedly shared with 2/Lt Cox in saving 2/LKt Martin’s life.” Second Lieutenant Cox was awarded the Military Cross; the DCM was awarded to Sergeant Gwynne on 21 March 1917. Just three days before, Gwynne had also been mentioned Sir Archibald Murray’s despatches for “distinguished services in the field and for other valuable services”.

As his regiment entered Palestine as part of the Desert Column, Gwynne participated in the battles at Gaza and the capture of Jerusalem. On 17 December 1917 Sergeant Gwynne applied for a commission and was accepted into the Officer Cadet School at Zeitoun; he was commissioned as a second lieutenant on 9 March 1918, and attended an Equitation Course in early April. During the Es-Salt Raid, on 3 May 1918, Second Lieutenant Gwynne was hit in the ankle by a shell fragment and suffered a contusion. He spent a month recovering at 14 Australian General Hospital before returning to his unit, and was promoted to lieutenant on 10 June, while the regiment was in reserve and training at Solomon’s’ Ponds outside Jerusalem. He attended a number of training courses over the next two months.

In the regiment’s push towards Damascus on 29 September 1918, after crossing the Jordan River and pushing against Turkish positions between Kuneitra and of the town of Sasa, Lieutenant Gwynne received a gunshot wound to his left wrist. In mid-December he was examined by a medical board which noted that he had considerable limitation in movement of his left wrist after suffering a compound communicated fracture of the radius. On 22 December Spencer Gwynne was returned to Australia aboard the transport ‘Leicestershire’; his appointment to the AIF terminated on 11 April 1919.

During the Second World War, Lieutenant Gwynne commanded the Armadale (WA) Volunteer Defence Corps and was strongly involved in the area’s RSL. Spencer Gwynne suffered a sudden heart attack and died on the 24th April 1959.