Biography

Birth date: 08 March 1895
Birth place: Australia: Victoria, Ballarat
Death date: 02 March 1957
Death place: Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, Caulfield
Final rank: Corporal
Service number: 2130 - First World War, 1914-1918
Units:
  • B Company
  • 7th Australian Infantry Battalion

William Dunstan was born in Ballarat, Victoria, in March 1895 and employed as a drapery story clerk when the First World War broke out. In June 1915 he enlisted in the AIF, joining the 7th Battalion as a reinforcement. He was Mentioned in Despatches before taking part in the battle at Lone Pine, where he was to win the Victoria Cross.

On 9 August Dunstan was part of a group of soldiers defending a newly captured trench when the Turks made a determined counter-attack. Dunstan, together with Lieutenant Frederick Tubb, Corporal Burton, and six others, kept firing over the parapet. When a large explosion blew down the barricade, Dunstan and Burton began to rebuild it, while Tubb kept the enemy at bay. Before the work was complete a bomb burst between the men, killing Burton and temporarily blinding Dunstan. Dunstan was invalided to Australia and discharged in February 1916. He promptly rejoined the militia, serving in various ranks until he retired as a lieutenant in 1928.

He was presented with his Victoria Cross by the Governor-General on the steps of Parliament House, Melbourne; being a very reserved man, however, he found it a great ordeal. Dunstan's strength of character led him to a highly successful civilian career, particularly in the newspaper industry, and he was greatly respected in business, judicial, and parliamentary circles. Dunstan died suddenly of a heart attack in 1957.

Citation (abridged):

In the early morning of 9th August the enemy made a determined counter-attack on a newly-captured trench held by Lieutenant Tubb, Corporals Burton, Dunstan and a few men. They advanced up a sap and blew in a sandbag barricade, but Tubb and the two corporals repulsed the enemy and rebuilt the barricade. Strong enemy bombing parties twice again succeeded in blowing in the barricade, but on each occasion the enemy were repulsed and the barricade rebuilt, though Tubb was wounded and Corporal Burton killed while most gallantly building up the parapet under a hail of bombs.

Rolls and Awards

First World War Embarkation Roll

  • Rank: Private
  • Date of embarkation: 17 June 1915
  • Place of embarkation: Melbourne

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: B Company
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 7th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation)

  • Unit: 7th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 7th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Mention in despatches

  • Unit: 7th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Photograph

009147

1941-08. ARRIVAL OF THE PRESS DELEGATION AT SINGAPORE. L-R: MR. W.E. KITTLE, EDITOR OF THE TELEGRAPH NEWSPAPER, BRISBANE; MR. T. CURR OF ASSOCIATED NEWSPAPERS LTD; MR. J.H. RICHARDS, AUSTRALIAN UNITED PRESS; MR. N COXEN, DAILY MIRROR, SYDNEY; DR. H.J. FRIEDERICY, ASSISTANT RESIDENT, NETHERLANDS...

009147

H06201

Portrait of Lieutenant William Dunstan, who was awarded the VC after continually repelling Turkish counter-attacks in the trenches at Lone Pine, Gallipoli, on 9 August 1915.

H06201

H18677

Lieutenant W. Dunstan being decorated with the Victoria Cross by the Governor General, Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson, on the steps of Parliament House. Lieutenant Dunstan was awarded the Victoria Cross for action as a corporal with 7th AIF Battalion at Lone Pine, Gallipoli, on 9th August 1915.

H18677

H18678

Lieutenant W. Dunstan with Colour Party and guard after being decorated with the Victoria Cross by the Governor General, Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson, at Parliament House steps. Lieutenant Dunstan was awarded the Victoria Cross for action as a corporal with the 7th AIF Battalion at Lone Pine,...

H18678

P03755.004

Studio portrait of 2130 Corporal (Cpl) William Dunstan, 6th Reinforcements, 7th Battalion, of Ballarat East, Vic. Prior to his enlistment on 2 June 1915 Cpl Dunstan served with the 70th Infantry, Citizens Military Forces. He embarked from Melbourne aboard HMAT Wandilla on 17 June 1915. Cpl Dunstan...

P03755.004

P02939.054

Studio portrait of Corporal (Cpl) William Dunstan VC, 7th Battalion. Cpl Dunstan was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for "most conspicuous bravery at Lone Pine Trenches, on the 9th August, 1915". Cpl Dunstan along with Lieutenant Tubb and Cpl Burton held a newly captured trench during an early...

P02939.054

P09772.007

Group reunion of the 7th Battalion AIF. The men all wear returned service badges on their lapels. The 7th Battalion, was raised by Lieutenant Colonel Harold 'Pompey' Elliott, and along with the 5th, 6th and 8th Battalions formed the 2nd Brigade. The men of the 2nd Brigade all enlisted in Victoria....

P09772.007

H18679

Lieutenant W. Dunstan with his parents and family after he was decorated with the Victoria Cross at Parliament House steps by the Governor General, Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson. Lieutenant Dunstan was awarded the Victoria Cross for action as a corporal with the 7th AIF Battalion at Lone Pine,...

H18679

Film

VC hero of Lone Pine [Corporal William Dunstan]

Presentation of the Victoria Cross (VC) to 2130 Corporal William Dunstan on 9 June 1916. The VC was presented by the Governor General of Australia Sir Ronald Munro-Ferguson on the steps of Parliament House Melbourne.

F00088

Published Collection

Cigarette card of Lieutenant W J Dunstan VC

Cigarette card showing a portrait of Lieutenant William Dunstan VC. Part of a series of cards depicting Australian VCs and Officers printed by Sniders and Abrahams.

RC00758

Digitised Collection

Diary for Frederick Harold Tubb, 1915

Diary relating to the First World War service of Major Frederick Harold Tubb VC, 7th Battalion. The diary was written by Frederick Tubb between 7 October and 21 November 1915. In the diary, Tubb describes his continued convalescence at 3rd London General Hospital in Wandsworth and meeting another...

RCDIG0000282

Heraldry

Victoria Cross : Corporal A S Burton, 7 Battalion, AIF

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

RELAWM16499.001

Victoria Cross : Corporal W Dunstan, 7 Battalion, AIF

Victoria Cross. Engraved on reverse suspender with recipient's details and on reverse cross with date of award.

REL/03274.001

British War Medal 1914-20 : Corporal W Dunstan, 7 Battalion, AIF

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

REL/03274.003

Victory Medal with Mention in Despatches oakleaf : Corporal W Dunstan, 7 Battalion, AIF

Victory Medal with Mention in Despatches oakleaf. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

REL/03274.004

George VI Coronation Medal : W Dunstan, VC

George VI Coronation Medal. Unnamed as issued.

REL/03274.005

Elizabeth II Coronation Medal : W Dunstan, VC

Elizabeth II Coronation Medal. Unnamed as issued.

REL/03274.006

1914-15 Star : Corporal W Dunstan, 7 Battalion, AIF

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

REL/03274.002

Timeline

Date of birth 1895-03-08
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1915-06-01 7 Battalion.
Date of embarkation 1915-06-17
Date promoted 1915-08-06 Appointed Corporal.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1915-08-08
Date of honour or award 1915-08-09 Awarded Victoria Cross for action at Lone Pine, Gallipoli, Turkey whilst serving with 7 Battalion, 2 Brigade, 1 Division as a Corporal
Date wounded 1915-08-09 Wounded in the head and temporarily blinded in action for which he received a Victoria Cross.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1915-08-22
Date of discharge 1916-02-01
Date of death 1957-03-02