Albert Medal in Gold : Sergeant D E Coyne, 31 Battalion, AIF

Unit 31st Australian Infantry Battalion
Accession Number REL/18689.001
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Award
Location Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Western Front 1917: Prisoners of War/Gallantry
Maker Royal Mint
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Albert Medal in gold (1st class). Engraved reverse with recipient's details.

History / Summary

3347 Sergeant David Emmet Coyne, a farmer from Mackay in Queensland, joined the AIF in January 1916 as a 20 year old, and embarked as part of the 7th reinforcements to 31 Battalion, joining the unit on the Somme in December 1916. By 1918 he had seen considerable service and had become an expert in bombing (grenades), with the rank of sergeant. On 15 May 1918 he was seriously injured, receiving over 20 wounds when he attempted to protect his comrades by smothering a grenade with his body. He subsequently died of his injuries, and was posthumously awarded the Albert Medal in gold. He was the only member of the AIF to receive this award. He is buried at Vignacourt British Cemetery near Amiens. The recommendation, originally for the award of the Victoria Cross, but later changed to the Albert Medal, since the enemy played no part in the event, reads as follows: 'At VAIRE-SOUS-CORBIE at 9.30 pm on the 15.5.18 Sergeant Coyne was in a platoon post in the support line. Being doubtful as to the quality of some Mills Grenades in the trench, he decided to test some by throwing one over the parapet. He did so, but by some mischance or other the grenade fell back into the trench amongst a Lewis Gun team. Coyne cried "Go for your lives boys, the bomb is in the trench" and endeavoured to find the bomb in order to throw it out of the trench. Owing to the darkness he could not put his hand on the bomb, which had rolled some little distance away. Realising the danger to his mates who had not got clear of the trench, he threw himself on top of the bomb which exploded, inflicting on him injuries from which he has since died. His last words to the men around him were "I laid on the bomb. I thought you didn't have time to get out." He undoubtedly sacrificed his life in order to save those of his comrades around him. It was a splendid example of cold blooded bravery.'