Victory Medal with MID : Lieutenant R Doutreband, 57 Battalion, AIF


Victory Medal with Mention in Despatches oakleaf. Medal impressed around edge with recipient's details.

History / Summary

Roy Doutreband was born at Dubbo, NSW, in September 1894, son of Charles Francis Doutreband, a Belgian immigrant. He was educated at Sydney Grammar, and worked as an accountant before the war, as well as serving in the Militia with 21 Infantry Regiment. Enlisting in the AIF in January 1915, he received the service number 1937, and soon held the acting rank of sergeant, becoming part of the 5th Reinforcements to 5 Battalion. He was taken on the strength of the unit at Gallipoli in July, and served through the remainder of the campaign, despite spending several weeks in hospital with illness. By the time of the evacuation, he had been confirmed in the rank of sergeant, and when the AIF was reorganised in Egypt in early 1916, he became part of the newly raised 57 Battalion, the ‘daughter’ unit of the 5th. Quickly promoted to Company Sergeant Major, (Warrant Officer Class II) Doutreband was commissioned following the heavy casualties suffered in the disastrous attack at Fromelles in July. He was promoted to lieutenant later in the same year, and in mid 1917 was appointed battalion intelligence officer. Repeatedly recommended for awards in recognition of his gallantry and leadership, it was 1918 before he finally received the Military Cross for his distinguished service in the attack on Polygon Wood the previous September. Almost immediately, he was awarded a Bar to the MC for leadership and courage in the fighting around Villers Bretonneux in April. He was also Mentioned in Despatches before the war ended, and returned to Australia in March 1919. After completing accountancy studies, Roy Doutreband obtained a position with the ‘Sydney Star’ (later the ‘Sun’) newspaper, and eventually rose to become its general manager. He died in Sydney in February 1959. Several recommendations for Mentions in Despatches to Doutreband exist, although only one was eventually granted. No award appears to have been made for the first, (18 September 1916) which reads as follows: 'The Divisional Commander has much pleasure in placing on record the gallant and meritorious conduct of this Officer. During a raid made by a party from the 57 Bn on the night of the 19/8/16 showed splendid resource and gallantry; after two Officers had been casualties, he took charge of the party and was one of the first to enter the enemy's trench and last to return, bringing with him a captured enemy machine gun, which he recovered after it had been left behind by a wounded man. He exhibited praiseworthy coolness and courage in crossing 'No Man's Land' under heavy artillery bombardment and machine gun fire.' A second recommendation, (March 1917) reads as follows: ‘Lieut DOUTREBAND has during the period from October 1916 to March 1917 served with his unit in France at FROMELLES and on the SOMME. During this time he has been employed as Intelligence Officer and the information that he has obtained has been of the greatest assistance to his Battalion Commander. During a period of 5 months on GALLIPOLI this officer did fine work with the 5th Battalion. He has always displayed great devotion to duty.’ The third Mention in Despatches (October 1917) was a recommendation for the Military Cross, but was then downgraded to an MID, and may not have been approved. It reads as follows: ‘East of Glencorse Wood during the period 25th/27th September 1917 this officer showed the greatest bravery and initiative. He laid tapes for the assembly of the attacking Battalions on the old front line. He lost nearly all of his party, but persevered with the work, and the attacking Battalions were assembled without a hitch. During the many periods of uncertainty he did most valuable reconnaissance forward, reporting on the situation and enabling us to protect the right flank. His work was done under heavy shell fire, and the courage and initiative shown was of the highest order.' It is interesting to note that a second, and more detailed, submission (in March 1918, possibly for the King’s Birthday Honours List of that year) of a Military Cross recommendation for this same action was successful.