Biography

Birth date: 10 January 1893
Birth place: Australia: Victoria, Layard
Death date: 17 January 1932
Death place: Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, Caulfield
Final rank: Captain
Service number: 465 - First World War, 1914-1918
Units:
  • 14 Battalion
  • 14th Australian Infantry Battalion

Albert Jacka was born on 10 January 1893 at Layard in Victoria. He completed elementary schooling before working as a labourer, first with his father and then with the Victorian State Forests Department.

He 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 was awarded 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. He began a rapid rise through the ranks, finally becoming a captain in March 1917. Jacka having risen no higher has been attributed to his frequent disputes with superior officers.

After Gallipoli the 14th Battalion was shipped to France, where, at Pozières in August 1916 and at Bullecourt in 1917 he won the Military Cross and a bar to that award. The Australian official historian, Charles Bean, described his actions at Pozières, during which he recaptured a section of trench, freed a group of recently captured Australians and forced the surrender of some fifty Germans, as "the most dramatic and effective act of individual audacity in the history of the AIF." He was severely wounded during this action and was hit by a sniper's bullet in July 1917. On each occasion he returned to the front, always furthering his reputation as one of the AIF's most respected warriors. In May 1918 he received the wound that ended his combat career, this time during a German gas bombardment near Villers-Bretonneux.

Jacka returned to Australia in September 1919. Greeted by a large crowd upon his return, Jacka was described in one newspaper as "the symbol of the spirit of the ANZACs." After being demobilised in January 1920 he went into business with two former members of his battalion. He married the following year and he and his wife later adopted a daughter. In 1929 Jacka was elected to the St Kilda Council becoming mayor the following year. His political career was characterised by his strong interest in assisting the unemployed. Meanwhile his business, which had performed well until the late 1920s, was forced into voluntary liquidation in 1930.

At the same time Jacka's health began to deteriorate. He entered Caulfield Military Hospital in December 1931 and died from kidney disease the following month. More than 6,000 people filed past his coffin as it lay in state and his funeral procession, flanked by thousands of onlookers, was led by over 1,000 returned soldiers - the coffin was carried by eight Victoria Cross winners. Jacka was buried with full military honours in St Kilda cemetery.

Citation:
For most conspicuous bravery on the night of the 19-20th May, 1915, at Courtney's Post, Gallipoli Peninsula. Lance Corporal Jacka, while holding a portion of our trench with four men, was heavily attacked. When all except himself were killed or wounded, the trench was rushed and occupied by seven Turks. Lance Corporal Jacka at once most gallantly attacked them single-handed and killed the whole party, five by rifle fire and two with the bayonet.

Rolls and Awards

First World War Embarkation Roll

  • Rank: Private
  • Date of embarkation: 22 December 1914
  • Place of embarkation: Melbourne

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Bar to Military Cross

  • Unit: 14th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Bar to Military Cross

  • Unit: 14th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation)

  • Unit: 14th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Commander in Chiefs Congratulatory Card

  • Unit: 14th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Distinguished Service Order

  • Unit: 14th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 14th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Military Cross

  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation)

  • Unit: 14th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Bar to Military Cross

  • Unit: 14th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation)

  • Unit: 14th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Military Cross

  • Unit: 14th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 14th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Bar to Military Cross

  • Unit: 14th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Collection Items

Digitised Collection (4)

Autograph book for Alfred Thomas Sharp, 1914-1921 RCDIG0000288

Personal Files Book 15, 10 June - 31 July 1917 RCDIG0000621

Personal Files Book 11, 25 December 1915 - 8 January 1916 RCDIG0000607

Letters written by Field Marshal Lord William Birdwood to Sir Ronald Craufurd Munro Ferguson, 1917 RCDIG0000041

Manuscript (1)

Pryce , Mr Henry MSS1103

Film (1)

Jacka VC F10234

Sound (1)

Three 'Turn of the Century' ABC Radio Programs featuring Dr Peter Stanley discussing aspects of Aust S02107

Manuscript

Pryce , Mr Henry

"The Undefeated" a collection of poems typed with the author's hand written corrections and annotations relating to the poet's experiences of war. Selected poems relate to troopships, Australians in Britain in 1916, Flanders, Zonnebeke, the Vickers Gun, Menin Road, at the Cenotaph in 1933, Anzac...

MSS1103

Private Record

Stockham, Sydney Clezy (Lieutenant), 1889 - 1918

Diary, 1915-1918; post card and letters, 1916-1918 of Lieutenant Sydney Clezy Stockham written during the First World War. Other items are: transcripts of letters from family and friends; typed transcripts of the diary entries 1915-1918; a postcard, from 4303 Private (George) William Stockham,...

PR02000

Jacka, Albert (Captain, VC, 14th Bn, AIF b: 1893 d: 1932)

BOOK OF LECTURE NOTES ON GENERAL TRAINING, AUTOGRAPH BOOK PRESENTED TO JACKA BY THE ANZAC CLUB, WILLIAMSTOWN (VIC) CONTAINING VERSES AND SKETCHES, LECTURE PREPARED BY JACKA, "THE BATTALION IN ATTACK" AND A PHOTOGRAPH OF 1ST AGH ANZAC SPORTS WINNERS, SUTTON VENY.

PR84/333

Sharp, Alfred Thomas

Autograph book belonging to Mr Alfred Thomas Sharp. Mr Sharp was the Commonwealth Immigration Officer of Victoria and was based in the London Office during the First World War. He and his wife hosted and visited many soldiers, particularly those from Victoria, who were recuperating in London. ...

PR04809

Stanton, Frederick B (Captain, 14th Bn b: 1894 d: 1917)

LENGTHY DESCRIPTION OF TRAINING AND LIFE IN THE TRENCHES. MAKES MENTION OF JACKA, VC AND THE EVACUATION. DESCRIPTIONS OF EXPERIENCES IN FRANCE. LETTERS RE STANTON'S DEATH IN ACTION AT BULLECOURT INCLUDING ONE FROM JACKA, VC. COVER PERIOD 1915-1917

2DRL/0155

Thomas, William Charles (Lieutenant, b.1890 - d.?)

Collection relating to the First World War service of Lieutenant William Charles Thomas, 14 Battalion, France. Collection consists of a handwritten diary with detailed daily entries from 30 March to 24 September 1918. It describes military action in France, camp site descriptions, the weather,...

PR82/002

Gatliff, Charles Edwin (Captain)

Collection relating to service of Captain Charles Edwin Gatliff, 4 Light Horse Regiment [later 50 & 51 Field Artillery Battery, 13 Field Artillery Brigade], Egypt, France and Belgium. Collection includes letters written by Gatliff to his parents in Melbourne, between March 1916 and September 1918,...

1DRL/0309

Jacka, Albert (Captain, VC, MC and Bar, 14th Bn AIF b: 1893. d: 1932)

LETTERS WRITTEN TO A FRIEND WHILE RECUPERATING AT 3RD LONDON GENERAL HOSPITAL, INCLUDING BRIEF MENTION OF HIS "DEATH" AND FURTHER POSSIBLE DECORATIONS.

PR88/190

Jacka, Albert (Captain, VC, 14th Bn, AIF b: 1893 d: 1932)

Photograph of Official Prize Winners, Anzac Sports, 1st AGH Sutton Veny, 30 April 1919.

PR84/333.004

Photograph

J00739

Informal portrait of 465 Corporal (later Captain) Albert Jacka VC, MC, 14th Battalion (standing left rear); 1451 Private (Pte) Elmer Glew of the 8th Battalion; Lieutenant (Lt) John Millis, 14th Battalion and Lieutenant William Robert Moodie Beamond, 14th Battalion in the grounds of the 3rd London...

J00739

J00738

Informal portrait of 465 Corporal (later Captain) Albert Jacka VC, MC, 14th Battalion; 1451 Private (Pte) Elmer Glew of the 8th Battalion; Lieutenant (Lt) John Millis, 14th Battalion and Lieutenant William Robert Moodie Beamond, 14th Battalion in the grounds of the 3rd London General Hospital. ...

J00738

J03076

MELBOURNE, AUS. 1927-04-25. AUSTRALIAN VICTORIA CROSS (VC) WINNERS WHO TOOK PART IN THE 1927 ANZAC DAY MARCH. IN THE BACKGROUND ARE THE KING'S AND REGIMENTAL COLOURS OF THE A.M.F. BATTALIONS AND REGIMENTS. LEFT TO RIGHT:- CORPORAL (CPL) B.S. GORDON MM, CPL T.L. AXFORD MM, CPL J. CARROLL, SERGEANT...

J03076

P00563.001

"Official prize winners, Anzac sports, 1st Australian camp hospital". Seated is captain Albert Jacka VC, MC and Bar, the first Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross during the First World War. The man standing is the Divisional boxing champion, Private David Alexander (Dave) Walker, AIF...

P00563.001

A02868

Studio portrait of Captain Albert Jacka VC MC and Bar of the 14th Battalion. Jacka was the first Australian to be awarded the Victoria Cross in World War 1.

A02868

E01725

Group portrait of the officers of the 14th Battalion. Left to right, back row; Lieutenant (Lt) G. Huse, Assistant Adjutant; Lt F. Larter; Lt W. E. Manie; Lt A. King, Lewis Gun Officer (LGO); Lt J. H. Johnson MC and Bar, Intelligence Officer (killed in action 2 May 1918); Lt R. Roxburgh; Lt R. Wood...

E01725

E00631

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...

E00631

A02868A

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

A02868A

088545

SYDNEY, NSW. 1945-04-16. PRIVATE R. JACKA, A PRISONER OF WAR FOR THREE AND A HALF YEARS IN EAST PRUSSIA AND A NEPHEW OF CAPTAIN A. JACKA, VICTORIA CROSS WINNER IN THE 1914-1918 WAR, RECEIVES AN ISSUE OF CIGARETTES AT A GENERAL DETAILS DEPOT.

088545

A05537

MELBOURNE, 1927-11. A FORMAL GROUP PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN AT THE VICTORIA CROSS REUNION DINNER. LEFT TO RIGHT: STANDING: MR W.D. JOYNT VC, SQUADRON LEADER F.H. MCNAMARA VC RAAF, MR J. ROGERS VC, LIEUTENANT G.M. INGRAM VC, MR W. PEELER VC, MR L.D. MCCARTHY VC, CROIX DE GUERRE, MR R.V. MOON VC; FRONT ROW:...

A05537

P02141.003

Portrait of Corporal Albert Jacka VC, 14th Battalion, standing outside a canvas tent. Jacka was awarded the Victoria Cross for his brave actions at Courtney's Post, Gallipoli, on 19 May 1915. This was the first VC to be awarded to the AIF in World War 1. Jacka also later received the Military Cross...

P02141.003

P02939.001

Studio portrait of Captain (Capt) Albert Jacka VC MC and Bar, 14th Battalion. Capt Jacka was awarded the Victoria Cross as a lance corporal (LCpl) for "conspicuous bravery on the night of 19th - 20th May, 1915, at Courtney's Post, Gallipoli Peninsula." He was holding a trench with four others, all...

P02939.001

H15655

Portrait of Captain Albert Jacka VC MC&Bar of the 14th Battalion, AIF. (Donor Sears Studio)

H15655

H15695

The grave of Captain Albert Jacka VC MC&Bar, 14th Battalion, AIF, in St Kilda Cemetery. Captain Jacka died on 17 January 1932 at the age of 39 years. (Donor A.W. Bazley)

H15695

E00438

General Sir William Riddell Birdwood (centre) shaking hands with Captain A Jacka VC MC and Bar, of the 14th Battalion (left), after presenting him with a bar to his MC for bravery during the first attack on Bullecourt, near the Hindenburg Line. The ceremony took place at Ribemont. Standing in the...

E00438

P03987.001

Framed print of HMAT Euripides (A14), featuring the signatures of Australian servicemen who returned to Australia aboard the troopship on 6 September 1919. The signatures include those of 465 Captain (Capt) Albert Jacka, VC (far left), and 1717 Private (Pte) John Ryan, VC (far right). Capt Jacka...

P03987.001

A03408

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...

A03408

P05859.007

An unidentified sergeant of the 14th Battalion sits beside Company Sergeant Major Albert Jacka VC, 14th Battalion. On 19-20 May 1915, in an almost superhuman effort, Jacka successfully attacked the enemy soldiers who had occupied his trench. He did so single-handedly as those around him had already...

P05859.007

Art

Enlist in the Sportsmen's Thousand

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...

ARTV00026

He kept his pledge

South Australian recruitment poster using the legendary status of Albert Jacka VC to help raise funds for peace bonds. A ciricular photograph of Jacka occupies the top half of the poster, while orange text occupies the bottom of half. A blue and orange rectangular border frames the whole. Most...

ARTV00784

Enlist in the Sportsmens' 1000

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...

ARTV05616

Captain Albert Jacka

Portrait of Captain Albert Jacka, VC, MC and Bar, 14 Battalion AIF, 1st Australian Imperial Force. 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...

ART00201

Albert Jacka

Captain Albert Jacka, VC, MC and Bar, of 14 Battalion AIF, in mayoral robes and chain when Mayor of St Kilda.

ART11798

Heraldry

Victoria Cross : Lance Corporal A Jacka, 14 Battalion, AIF

Victoria Cross. Engraved reverse suspender with recipient's details, and reverse cross with date of action.

REL/18215.001

Identity disc : Lieutenant A Jacka, 14 Battalion AIF

Silver Egyptian 5 Quirsh coin. The reverse has been smoothed off and impressed 'LT. A. JACKA 14.A.I. P.' A small hole has been drilled in top to allow it to be attached to a chain. The letters seem to be impressed with stamps officially issued to each military unit specifically for the pupose of...

REL/14168

1914-15 Star : Sergeant A Jacka, 14 Battalion, AIF

1914-15 Star. Impressed reverse with recipient's details.

REL/18215.003

Military Cross and bar : Captain A Jacka, 14 Battalion, AIF

Military Cross and bar (Geo V). Unnamed as issued.

REL/18215.002

British War Medal 1914-20 : Captain A Jacka, 14 Battalion, AIF

British War Medal 1914-20. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

REL/18215.004

Victory Medal : Captain A Jacka, 14 Battalion, AIF

Victory Medal. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

REL/18215.005

Victoria Cross ribbon bar : Captain A Jacka, 14 Battalion, AIF

Victoria Cross ribbon bar with crimson silk ribbon and a brooch-pin back.

REL35955

Technology

Colt New Service M1917 Revolver : Captain A Jacka, VC, MC, 14 Battalion, AIF

Colt New Service M1917 Revolver. Barrel stamped with the Colt's patent dates and NEW SERVICE 455 ELEY. The right black plastic grip is chipped on the bottom edge.

REL/02451.001

Luger P08 Pistol : Captain A Jacka, 14 Battalion, AIF

Luger P08 semi-automatic pistol. Frame marked ERFURT 1911 and the serial number. The grips are checkered wood and it is complete with a magazine. The backstrap has a 'T' section slide to take the detachable shoulder stock. The trigger spring and firing pin are missing.

RELAWM01097

Luger P08 Pistol Firing Pin: Captain A Jacka, 14 Battalion, AIF

Luger P08 semi automatic pistol. Frame marked ERFURT 1911 and the serial number. The grips are checkered wood and it is complete with a magazine. The backstrap has a 'T' section slide to take the detachable shoulder stock. The trigger spring and firing pin are missing.

RELAWM01097.001

Published Collection

Cigarette card of Captain A Jacka, VC MC

Cigarette card showing a portrait of Captain Albert Jacka VC MC. Part of a series of cards depicting Australian VCs and Officers printed by Sniders and Abrahams.

RC00750

Film

Jacka VC

The life of the famous Australian war hero, Captain Albert Jacka, VC, MC and BAR, of the 14th Battalion AIF, who was the first Australian to win the Victoria Cross at Gallipoli. The film uses photographs and archival film interspersed with contemporary scenes of Wedderburn and his brother Bill...

F10234

Sound

Three 'Turn of the Century' ABC Radio Programs featuring Dr Peter Stanley discussing aspects of Australia's military involvement in war and peacekeeping throughout the 1900s

PROGRAM 1: Dr Stanley discuses attitudes to war and Australia's committment to war; Australian's went to the Boer War (South Africa) with idea that war was romantic and adventurous but during the century there was a changing view of war; men went to the Great War initially with enthusiasm but the...

S02107

Digitised Collection

Autograph book for Alfred Thomas Sharp, 1914-1921

Autograph book belonging to Mr Alfred Thomas Sharp. Alfred Sharp was the Commonwealth Immigration Officer of Victoria and was based in the London Office during the First World War. He and his wife hosted and visited many soldiers, particularly those from Victoria, who were recuperating in London. ...

RCDIG0000288

Letters written by Field Marshal Lord William Birdwood to Sir Ronald Craufurd Munro Ferguson, 1917

This folder contains copies of 16 letters sent by Field Marshal Lord William Birdwood to Sir Ronald Craufurd Munro Ferguson between 17 January and 31 December 1917. During this period, Sir Ronald Craufurd Munro Ferguson was the Governor-General of Australia. Some of the topics covered in these...

RCDIG0000041

Personal Files Book 11, 25 December 1915 - 8 January 1916

File of papers relating to the First World War service of Brigadier General John Monash, 4th Infantry Brigade. This file, originally part of Book 11, covers 25 December 1915 to 8 January 1916 and includes information on the strength of the battalions in the 4th Brigade after the evacuation from...

RCDIG0000607

Personal Files Book 15, 10 June - 31 July 1917

File of papers relating to the First World War service of Major General John Monash, 3rd Australian Division. This file, originally part of Book 15, covers 10 June 1917 to 31 July 1917 and includes documents relating to the aftermath of the Messines Offensive and the beginning of the Battle of...

RCDIG0000621

Timeline

Date of birth 1893-01-10 Layard, VIC.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1914-09-18 14th Battalion, AIF.
Date of embarkation 1914-12-22
Other 1915-04-26 Landed at Gallipoli with the 14th Battalion.
Date of honour or award 1915-05-19 Awarded Victoria Cross for "most conspicious bravery on the night of 19th-20th May, 1915, at Courtney's Post, Gallipoli Peninsula." Alone Jacka attacked a group of seven turks, occupying part of Courtney's Post, killing the entire party.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1915-05-25
Date promoted 1915-08-27 Appointed lance corporal.
Date promoted 1915-08-28 Appointed corporal.
Date promoted 1915-09-12 Appointed sergeant.
Date promoted 1915-11-14 Appointed company sergeant major.
Date promoted 1916-04-29 Appointed 2nd lieutenant.
Date of honour or award 1916-08-07 Awarded Military Cross for his actions at Pozieres, France.
Date wounded 1916-08-07
Date of recommendation honour or award 1916-08-11
Date promoted 1916-08-18 Appointed lieutenant.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917-03-14
Date promoted 1917-03-15 Appointed captain.
Date of honour or award 1917-04-08 Awarded bar to Military Cross for his actions at Bullecourt, France.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917-04-15
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917-09-29
Date wounded 1918-05 Gassed near Villers-Bretonneux.
Date of discharge 1920-01-10 Demobilised.
Other 1929 Elected to St Kilda Council.
Other 1930 Elected Mayor of St Kilda Council.
Date of death 1932-01-17 Died following illness.
Date of burial 1932-01-19 Buried with full Military Honours in St Kilda cemetery.