1918: Australians in France - Private Robert Mactier
Private Robert Mactier posthumously received the Victoria Cross (VC)- the highest honour for duty- for his actions on 1 September 1918. Born on 17 May 1890 in Tatura, Victoria, he enlisted in the AIF in March 1917, and served with the 23rd Battalion, 6th Brigade, 2nd Division.
The operation for which his service was recognised took place during the Mont St Quentin campaign, on the night of 31 August. Mactier's brigade was meant to be in a certain position by the next morning in order to launch an attack on the village overlooking Péronne. However, there were some German strongholds that had to be passed if his brigade was to gain its position. The situation was at a stalemate until Private Mactier, who had been sent ahead as a runner to investigate, took the matter into his own hands by charging a German post, throwing a bomb and then climbing over the wire, killing the eight men there.
Continuing on a further few metres to the next post, another garrison surrendered to him. As these Germans were sent back to Australian lines, Mactier continued his campaign, capturing a machine-gun and killing its crew, before finally being shot by a nearby machine-gun. It is stated that his performance greatly assisted Australian troops, giving them an opportunity to break through the German lines and begin the Mont St Quentin operation.
He is buried in Hem-Monacu cemetery, and his VC is displayed in the Australian War Memorial's Hall of Valour.