Biography

Birth date: 19 September 1895
Birth place: Australia: New South Wales, Newcastle, Wallsend
Death date: 30 April 1948
Death place: Australia: New South Wales, Sydney, Punchbowl
Final rank: Private
Service number: 1584 - First World War, 1914-1918
1584A - First World War, 1914-1918
Unit: 53rd Australian Infantry Battalion

William Currey was born at Wallsend, New South Wales, and worked in Sydney as a wireworker. After attempts to enlist while under-age, he was accepted in 1916. Initially in a light trench mortar battery, he transferred to the 53rd Battalion in 1917. He fought in the battle of Polygon Wood.

In the attack on PĂ©ronne, 1 September 1918, Currey's company was taking casualties from a field gun at close range. He ran forward under fire, captured the gun and killed the crew. Later, when the advance was checked by an enemy strongpoint, Currey moved around the flank with a Lewis gun, inflicting casualties and dispersing the enemy. Early next morning he volunteered to relay orders to an isolated unit: proceeding into no man's land, he called out, drawing enemy fire. Despite being gassed and having his respirator holed, he returned safely.

After the war Currey was involved in politics and in 1941 became the first Victoria Cross recipient in the New South Wales parliament, retaining his seat until his death.

Currey received the Victoria Cross, service medals for the First World War and the King George VI Coronation Medal.

Rolls and Awards

First World War Embarkation Roll

  • Rank: Private
  • Date of embarkation: 09 November 1916
  • Place of embarkation: Sydney

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 53rd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation)

  • Unit: 53rd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation)

  • Unit: 53rd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 53rd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 53rd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 53rd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 53rd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation)

  • Unit: 53rd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 53rd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 53rd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Collection Items

Photograph

044956

Sydney, NSW. 1938-04-23. A group portrait of Victoria Cross recipients who were invited to Sydney by the United Licensed Victuallers Association (ULVA) to march as a group in the 1938 Sydney Anzac Day march. This gesture by the ULVA was part of the Australian sesquicentennial (150 years)...

044956

J03064

PORTRAIT OF 1584A PRIVATE W.M. CURREY VC. (FULL-FACE.)

J03064

J03065

PORTRAIT OF 1584A PRIVATE W. M. CURREY, VC

J03065

J03065A

PORTRAIT OF 1584A PRIVATE W.M. CURREY VC. (NOT QUITE FULL-FACE.)

J03065A

J03075

1927-04-25. AUSTRALIAN VICTORIA CROSS (VC) WINNERS WHO TOOK PART IN THE ANZAC DAY MARCH IN MELBOURNE, WAITING TO ENTER THE EXHIBITION BUILDING, WHERE A COMMEMORATION SERVICE WAS HELD. LEFT TO RIGHT: CAPTAIN R.C. GRIEVE, 2ND LIEUT W. RUTHVEN, CAPT J.E. NEWLAND, 2ND LIEUT J. HAMILTON, LIEUT. A....

J03075

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

P01383.003

A portrait of Private William Matthew Curry VC, a Presbyterian. This photograph is a portion of P01383.017, a framed composite photograph (photo-montage) presented to Lieutenant John Hamilton VC by Dr Mannix on the occasion of the Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in Melbourne, 17 March 1920. The...

P01383.003

P01383.017

A framed composite photograph presented to Lieutenant John Hamilton VC by His Grace the Archbishop of Melbourne and the Irish citizens of Victoria, on the occasion of the Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in Melbourne, 17 March 1920. The composite photograph comprises portraits of fourteen Victoria...

P01383.017

P01383.018

This is a restored version of P01383.017. The original is is a framed composite photograph presented to Lieutenant John Hamilton VC by his Grace the Archbishop of Melbourne and the Irish citizens of Victoria on the occasion of the Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in Melbourne, 17 March 1920. The...

P01383.018

P02939.045

Studio portrait of Private (Pte) William Matthew Currey VC, 53rd Battalion. Pte Currey was awarded the Victoria Cross for "most conspicuous bravery and daring" on 1 September 1918 at Peronne, France. Pte Currey rushed a 77mm enemy field gun under heavy machine gun fire and succeeded in capturing...

P02939.045

Art

Private William Currey, VC

A portrait of Private William Matthew Currey, VC, 53rd Infantry Battalion.The Victoria Cross is prominently displayed on Currey's chest. Longstaff has highlighted the medal by matching its ribbon to the dark burgundy background. William Currey was born 19 September 1895 at Wallsend, New South...

ART09489

Heraldry

Victoria Cross : Private W M Currey, 53 Battalion, AIF

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

REL/05950.001

George VI Coronation Medal : W M Currey, VC

George VI Coronation Medal. Unnamed as issued.

REL/05950.004

Victory Medal : Private W M Currey, 53 Battalion, AIF

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

REL/05950.003

British War Medal 1914-20 : Private W M Currey, 53 Battalion, AIF

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

REL/05950.002

Timeline

Date of birth 1895-09-19
Other units 1912 - 1914 Served with the 31st Infantry Regiment.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1916-10-09
Date of embarkation 1916-11-09
Date of honour or award 1918-09-01 Awarded the Victoria Cross for his part in the Australian attack at Peronne.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-09-05
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-09-07
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-09-08
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-09-11
Date returned to Australia 1919-01
Other units 1939 - 1945 Served with the Australian Instructional Corps and at Holsworthy internment camp.
Date of death 1948-04-30