Lieutenant William Thomas Dartnell

Service number 1172
Ranks Held Lieutenant, Temporary Lieutenant, Private
Birth Date 1885-04-06
Birth Place Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, Fitzroy
Death Date 1915-09-03
Death Place Kenya
Final Rank Lieutenant
Service British Army
  • 25th Battalion Royal Fusiliers
  • 25th Bn RF
  • 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles
  • First World War, 1914-1918
  • South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
Gazettes Biographical information They dared mightily. in 1963
Published in London Gazette in 1915-12-23

William Dartnell, born at Collingwood, Melbourne, was only 15 years old when he enlisted for service in South Africa with the Victorian Mounted Rifles in 1901. He returned to South Africa in 1913 and was working there when war was declared. Using the name Wilbur Taylor Dartnell, he joined the 25th Battalion, the Royal Fusiliers, as a temporary lieutenant, and in April 1915 sailed for service in British East Africa.

Dartnell's Victoria Cross was awarded posthumously for his actions on 3 September 1915, near Maktau, East Africa. Wounded in the leg during an ambush, he insisted on being left behind to allow other wounded companions to be carried away. Though he was twice asked to leave, he refused and began firing at the Germans around him. When his body was found, seven enemy dead were lying nearby.

Dartnell was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously, he also received the Queen's South Africa Medal and service medals for the First World War.



Date of birth 06 April 1885
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 12 February 1915 25 Battalion, Royal Fusiliers using the name Wilbur Taylor Dartnell.
Date of embarkation 1915-04 Embarked for British East Africa.
Awarded Victoria Cross 03 September 1915 For action at whilst serving with 25 (Service) Battalion (Frontiersmen), the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) as a Temporary Lieutenant
Date of death 03 September 1915