Birth date: 06 April 1885
Birth place: Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, Fitzroy
Death date: 03 September 1915
Death place: Kenya
Final rank: Lieutenant
Service number: First World War, 1914-1918
1172 - South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
  • 25th Battalion Royal Fusiliers
  • 25th Bn RF
  • 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles

William Dartnell, born at Collingwood, Melbourne, was only 15 years old when he enlisted for service in South Africa with the Victorian Mounted Rifles in 1901. He returned to South Africa in 1913 and was working there when war was declared. Using the name Wilbur Taylor Dartnell, he joined the 25th Battalion, the Royal Fusiliers, as a temporary lieutenant, and in April 1915 sailed for service in British East Africa.

Dartnell's Victoria Cross was awarded posthumously for his actions on 3 September 1915, near Maktau, East Africa. Wounded in the leg during an ambush, he insisted on being left behind to allow other wounded companions to be carried away. Though he was twice asked to leave, he refused and began firing at the Germans around him. When his body was found, seven enemy dead were lying nearby.

Dartnell was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously, he also received the Queen's South Africa Medal and service medals for the First World War.

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Rolls and Awards

  • Rank: Lieutenant
  • Date of Death: 03 September 1915
  • Unit: 25th Battalion Royal Fusiliers
  • Service: Array
  • Rank: Private
  • Unit: 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles
  • Conflict: South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
  • Awarded: Victoria Cross
  • Unit: 25th Bn RF
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Collection Items

Digitised Collection


Date of birth 1885-04-06
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1915-02-12 25 Battalion, Royal Fusiliers using the name Wilbur Taylor Dartnell.
Date of embarkation 1915-04 Embarked for British East Africa.
Awarded Victoria Cross 1915-09-03 For action at whilst serving with 25 (Service) Battalion (Frontiersmen), the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) as a Temporary Lieutenant
Date of death 1915-09-03