Africa Star

Africa Star

This Africa Star belonged to Sergeant David Linn of No. 451 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force.

What is it?

The Africa Star was awarded to British and Commonwealth service personnel who served in North Africa, Greece, and the Middle East from 10 June 1940 to 12 May 1943. The colours of the ribbon represent the desert as well as the three fighting services: dark blue for the navy, red for the army, and light blue for the air force.

Who received it?

Corporal John “Jack” Edmondson VC, 2/17th Battalion, c. 1940.

Corporal John Hurst “Jack” Edmondson was an African Star recipient. He was born in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, in 1914, and later moved to Liverpool to work on his parents’ farm. In May 1940, aged 26, Jack enlisted in the army. Well-built and tall, he settled well into military life and was known as a quiet and efficient soldier. Some of Jack’s family members had served in the First World War, and Jack proudly wore his uncle’s rising sun badges and Australian shoulder titles on his uniform.

Jack was very close with his mother, Maude, and on his suggestion she promised to keep a diary about the day-to-day happenings on the farm while he was away. On the day Jack left, Maude wrote:

Sat 5 October 1940 – Jack’s [final] leave over today. He left home this morning about 10 am. I did not go with him to Liverpool this time or to the city. I thought it best for him as I know the ordeal when saying good bye … We were both upset, then he said “Mother keep your chin up.”

After some time spent training in Palestine, Jack was sent to Tobruk in Libya, North Africa. In April 1941 he and six others took part in a charge on a German position. Jack was badly wounded in the neck and stomach, but in spite of this bravely defended his platoon commander against an attack by two German soldiers. His commander survived, but Jack died the next morning.

For his extreme bravery, which undoubtedly saved his commander’s life, Jack was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. His parents received the news of his award on 4 July 1941, and Maude’s note about this was one of the final entries in her diary. Her son’s actions were widely acclaimed, and newspapers around Australia published tales of his bravery. Maude kept many of these and pasted them into a scrapbook. Among them, a small cutting recounted the depth of his mother’s love:

Of course I am proud of him. I have always been proud of him. In a way, this great honour seems futile. I would rather have my son.

Read more about John Hurst Edmondson (PDF, 6.8MB)

What does it do?

The Africa Star gave recognition to those who served in North Africa from 1940 to 1943.

Activities for research and discussion

1. Make a rubbing of the medal using crayons or soft pencils, or design your own medal using foil and ribbons.

2. What does this diorama suggest about the conditions Australian troops faced at Tobruk? Do you think it is an accurate portrayal of events?

Ray Ewers Tobruk, 1954–56 (diorama) 400 x 525 x 450 cm.

3. This photograph shows Jack’s parents receiving his Victoria Cross. How might they have been feeling?

Mr and Mrs Edmondson at Admiralty House, Sydney, 27 September 1941.

Return to Memorial Box 4 object list