Military Medal: Sergeant P C Statton, 40 Battalion, AIF

Place Europe: Belgium, Flanders, West-Vlaanderen, Messines
Accession Number REL23654.002
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Award
Physical description Silver
Location Main Bld: Hall of Valour: Main Hall: Somme Advance 1918
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1917
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Military Medal (Geo V). Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

History / Summary

Percy Clyde Statton was born in Beaconsfield, Tasmania on 19 October 1890. He enlisted in the AIF on 1 March 1916 and was posted to 40 Battalion. On 22 May he was promoted to lance corporal. The battalion left Hobart in July 1916, arriving in England on 22 August. He was promoted to corporal on 19 November and the battalion moved to France four days later, arriving on 2 December. The following month, Statton was promoted to acting sergeant, the rank being confirmed on 23 April 1917.

In June the 3rd Australian Division, including 40 Battalion, took part in the Battle of Messines, a strategic and well fortified position which had been held by the Germans since 1914. Preparations for the Messines offensive had begun over a year earlier with the development of deep tunnels under the German lines which, by the time of the attack, housed over 930,000 pounds of high explosive in over 20 mines. The Australian Division was charged with the capture of the southern shoulder of Messines Ridge, the far right of the Allied push. 40 Battalion was to attack on the right of the New Zealand Division and take the enemy trenches immediately north of La Douve River.

At 03.10 am on the morning of 7 June, 19 of the mines were detonated, virtually destroying the fighting capacity of the German front line. This was accompanied by a creeping barrage of heavy artillery followed closely by the Australian infantry troops. The attack was an outstanding success, though fighting to consolidate the newly captured areas continued for days afterwards. Special mention for individual effort was not easy as Lieutenant Cecil Baldwin of 40 Battalion wrote:

'I have to report that it is extremely difficult for me to pick out individuals for merit, as the general morale of all the men was all that could be desired. Their coolness and [illegible] under enemy machine gun fire was magnificent.'

During the fighting, Statton was posted to one of the support units supplying the advanced parties. Over three days he personally directed and led his carrying party to the very front lines. For his actions during the Battle of Messines, he was awarded the Military Medal. The recommendation for the award reads:

'On the 7th, 8th and 9th of June 1917, during operations South East of MESSINES for exceptionally fine work and gallant conduct whilst under heavy enemy artillery and machine gun fire. He supervised and conducted carrying parties to the advanced troops with great determination and never failed to reach the most advanced lines, although on several occasions the party was decimated with shell fire. He set a fine example to the members of his party.'

On 12 October, Statton suffered a gunshot wound to the right shoulder near Passchendaele. He was evacuated to England and did not rejoin his unit until May 1918. On 10 June he was gassed in fighting near Villers-Bretonneux and taken to the casualty clearing station, returning to his unit on the 24th.

For his actions in overcoming four enemy machine gun positions near Proyart on 12 August, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. The award was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 7 June 1919. He arrived back in Australia on 26 November and discharged from the AIF on 18 January 1920. His marriage to Elsie, whom he had married in 1907, ended in October the same year. Following his discharge he worked as a labourer before resuming farming at Fitzgerald. On 21 December 1925 he married Eliza Grace Hudson who died in 1945. He was married again in 1947, to Monica Enid Effie Kingston and the couple lived at Ouse. During the 1950s he worked for Australian Newsprint Mills.

Statton on 5 December 1959 at the Repatriation General Hospital in Hobart. He was cremated with full military honours and his ashes interred at Cornelian Bay Cemetery. He was survived by his third wife and a son from his first marriage. His medal group came into the National Collection in 1995.