Captain Albert Jacka

Service number 465
Ranks Held Captain, Private, Second Lieutenant, Lance Corporal
Birth Date 10 January 1893
Birth Place Australia: Victoria, Layard
Death Date 17 January 1932
Death Place Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, Caulfield
Final Rank Captain
Service Australian Imperial Force
Units
Places
Conflict/Operation First World War, 1914-1918
Gazettes Biographical information The Oxford companion to Australian military history in 1995
Published in London Gazette in 1916-11-14
Published in London Gazette in 1917-06-18
Published in London Gazette in 1915-07-24
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1915-10-28
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1917-04-19
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1917-10-04
Description

Albert Jacka was born on 10 January 1893 at Layard in Victoria. He completed elementary schooling before working as a labourer, first with his father and then with the Victorian State Forests Department.

He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 18 September 1914 as a private in the 14th Battalion. After training in Egypt Jacka's battalion landed at Gallipoli on 26 April 1915. Just over three weeks later on 19 May, with the ANZACs now entrenched above the beaches, the Turks launched large-scale frontal assaults against their positions. Some Turks captured a small section of trench at Courtney's Post. Early attempts to drive them out failed, until Jacka, taking advantage of a diversion created by bomb throwers at one end of the Turkish position, leapt in, killing most of the occupants. For this he was awarded Australia's first Victoria Cross of the First World War.

Jacka quickly became famous - his likeness was used on recruiting posters and his exploits featured regularly in newspapers, particularly in his native Victoria. He began a rapid rise through the ranks, finally becoming a captain in March 1917. Jacka having risen no higher has been attributed to his frequent disputes with superior officers.

After Gallipoli the 14th Battalion was shipped to France, where, at Pozières in August 1916 and at Bullecourt in 1917 he won the Military Cross and a bar to that award. The Australian official historian, Charles Bean, described his actions at Pozières, during which he recaptured a section of trench, freed a group of recently captured Australians and forced the surrender of some fifty Germans, as "the most dramatic and effective act of individual audacity in the history of the AIF." He was severely wounded during this action and was hit by a sniper's bullet in July 1917. On each occasion he returned to the front, always furthering his reputation as one of the AIF's most respected warriors. In May 1918 he received the wound that ended his combat career, this time during a German gas bombardment near Villers-Bretonneux.

Jacka returned to Australia in September 1919. Greeted by a large crowd upon his return, Jacka was described in one newspaper as "the symbol of the spirit of the ANZACs." After being demobilised in January 1920 he went into business with two former members of his battalion. He married the following year and he and his wife later adopted a daughter. In 1929 Jacka was elected to the St Kilda Council becoming mayor the following year. His political career was characterised by his strong interest in assisting the unemployed. Meanwhile his business, which had performed well until the late 1920s, was forced into voluntary liquidation in 1930.

At the same time Jacka's health began to deteriorate. He entered Caulfield Military Hospital in December 1931 and died from kidney disease the following month. More than 6,000 people filed past his coffin as it lay in state and his funeral procession, flanked by thousands of onlookers, was led by over 1,000 returned soldiers - the coffin was carried by eight Victoria Cross winners. Jacka was buried with full military honours in St Kilda cemetery.

Citation:
For most conspicuous bravery on the night of the 19-20th May, 1915, at Courtney's Post, Gallipoli Peninsula. Lance Corporal Jacka, while holding a portion of our trench with four men, was heavily attacked. When all except himself were killed or wounded, the trench was rushed and occupied by seven Turks. Lance Corporal Jacka at once most gallantly attacked them single-handed and killed the whole party, five by rifle fire and two with the bayonet.

Rolls

Timeline

Date of birth 10 January 1893 Layard, VIC.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 18 September 1914 14th Battalion, AIF.
Date of embarkation 22 December 1914
Other 26 April 1915 Landed at Gallipoli with the 14th Battalion.
Date of honour or award 19 May 1915 Awarded Victoria Cross for "most conspicious bravery on the night of 19th-20th May, 1915, at Courtney's Post, Gallipoli Peninsula." Alone Jacka attacked a group of seven turks, occupying part of Courtney's Post, killing the entire party.
Date of recommendation honour or award 25 May 1915
Date promoted 27 August 1915 Appointed lance corporal.
Date promoted 28 August 1915 Appointed corporal.
Date promoted 12 September 1915 Appointed sergeant.
Date promoted 14 November 1915 Appointed company sergeant major.
Date promoted 29 April 1916 Appointed 2nd lieutenant.
Date of honour or award 07 August 1916 Awarded Military Cross for his actions at Pozieres, France.
Date wounded 07 August 1916
Date of recommendation honour or award 11 August 1916
Date of recommendation honour or award 11 August 1916
Date promoted 18 August 1916 Appointed lieutenant.
Date of recommendation honour or award 14 March 1917
Date promoted 15 March 1917 Appointed captain.
Date of honour or award 08 April 1917 Awarded bar to Military Cross for his actions at Bullecourt, France.
Date of recommendation honour or award 15 April 1917
Date of recommendation honour or award 15 April 1917
Date of recommendation honour or award 29 September 1917
Date of recommendation honour or award 29 September 1917
Date of recommendation honour or award 29 September 1917
Date wounded 1918-05 Gassed near Villers-Bretonneux.
Date of discharge 10 January 1920 Demobilised.
Other 1929 Elected to St Kilda Council.
Other 1930 Elected Mayor of St Kilda Council.
Date of death 17 January 1932 Died following illness.
Date of burial 19 January 1932 Buried with full Military Honours in St Kilda cemetery.