Lance Corporal Albert Jacka

12 May 2015

100th anniversary of Albert Jacka’s Victoria Cross Action

Lance Corporal Albert Jacka, 14th Battalion, originally of Winchelsea, Victoria, wins the Victoria Cross at Courtney's Post, Gallipoli. Jacka's was the first VC to be awarded to an Australian in the First World War. He also went on to be awarded the Military Cross and Bar.

Albert Jacka 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 received 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. Jacka was described in one newspaper as "the symbol of the spirit of the ANZACs."

For more information on Albert Jacka see /people/P10675894/#biography

For more information on the Victoria Cross see /encyclopedia/vic_cross/

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Studio portrait of Captain Albert Jacka VC MC and Bar of the 14th Battalion, AIF.


Studio portrait of Lance Corporal (L Cpl) (later Captain) Albert Jacka (later VC MC and bar) of the 14th Battalion. L Cpl Jacka was awarded the Victoria Cross for 'conspicuous bravery on the night of 19 and 20 May, 1915 at Courtney's Post, Gallipoli Peninsula.' He was holding a trench with four others, all of whom were killed or wounded, when it was attacked by seven Turkish soldiers. L Cpl Jacka defended the trench and killed all of the soldiers. He was the first Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross in the First World War. He later died of an illness on 17 January 1932.



Captain Albert Jacka VC (front holding map), 14th Battalion, comparing his maps with the prepared model of the Messines area, over which his company was to advance on the following day, 7 June 1917, in the battle of Messines. This contour map of the battlefield was constructed near Petit Pont, and stands where erected from which it could be studied to advantage, in order that troops taking part would fully understand their course of action in the great undertaking.

Representative of two common recruiting devices used in Australia, a well-known local soldier and a target number of men required for a specially named group. Both themes were combined, too, as in the case of Ryan's Thousand (after T.J. Ryan, the Queensland premier) or Carmichael's Thousand (after Captain A.C. Carmichael). This poster, published by the State Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, depicts Lieutenant Albert Jacka, VC, as a role model for a huge campaign to enlist sportsmen into the Australian Imperial Force in 1917. Jacka achieved instant fame back home when he became the first Australian to win the Victoria Cross during the First World War. It was said that one of the reasons he was such a good soldier, and had such a fighting attitude, was that he had been a boxer before the war. The campaign to enlist sportsmen was fuelled by a strong belief that by playing sport young men developed specific skills and qualities that could be used on the battlefield.

Australian First World War recruitment poster. Depicts Albert Jacka VC in front of the Union Jack flag. As the first Australian in the Great War to receive a VC, Jacka's image was used in numerous recruiting posters, and his exploits featured regularly in newspapers. His physical prowess and skills as a boxer were central to Jacka's legendary status. Surrounding Jacka are colourful depictions of healthy young men engaged in a variety of sports: AFL football, boxing, rowing, cricket, tennis and golf are amongst the sports described. The Sportsmen's 1000 drew a direct link between sporting prowess and war, even punning that Jacka '