Biography

Birth date: 15 July 1914
Birth place: Australia: Queensland, Crows Nest
Death date: 04 September 1942
Death place: New Guinea: Papua New Guinea, Papua, Milne Bay
Final rank: Corporal
Service number: QX1071 - Second World War, 1939-1945
Unit: 2/9th Australian Infantry Battalion

John French (1914-1942) was typical of many single young men who had enlisted early in the war. He went on to serve in Britain, Egypt, and Libya. By the time that he was sent to Papua in August 1942, he was an experienced infantry non-commissioned officer.

In early September French's company came across Japanese positions near Goroni and was held up by intense fire from three machine-gun posts. Ordering his own section to take cover, French successfully assaulted two positions with grenades. He then attacked the third with a sub-machine gun but finally fell dead in front of the enemy gun pit. He is buried in the Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery.

Rolls and Awards

Roll of Honour

  • Rank: Corporal
  • Date of Death: 04 September 1942
  • Unit: 2/9th Australian Infantry Battalion

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Honours and Awards : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 2/9th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Collection Items

Photograph

014650

1943-04-14. NEW GUINEA. WAR CEMETERY AT MILNE BAY. GRAVE OF CORPORAL J.A. FRENCH, V.C. CORPORAL FRENCH WON THE FIRST V.C. IN THE NEW GUINEA CAMPAIGN. (NEGATIVE BY N. BROWN).

014650

041515

AT GOILAHAI A PLAQUE HAS BEEN ERECTED TO COMMEMORATE THE VICTORY OVER THE JAPANESE HERE IN 1942-09. THE INSCRIPTION READS: "18TH AUSTRALIAN INFANTRY BRIGADE. IN THIS AREA ON 1942-09-05 THE 2/9TH BATTALION SUPPORTED BY 9TH BATTERY, 2/5TH FIELD REGIMENT, INFLICTED THE FINAL DECISIVE DEFEAT ON THE...

041515

053231

MILNE BAY, NEW GUINEA. 1943-06-26. Q113712 PRIVATE J.G. STANFORD OF THE 42ND AUSTRALIAN INFANTRY BATTALION, TENDS THE GRAVE OF QX1071 CORPORAL J.A. FRENCH, VC., OF THE 2/9TH AUSTRALIAN INFANTRY BATTALION, WHO WAS KILLED IN THE BATTLE FOR MILNE BAY.

053231

074698

MILNE BAY, NEW GUINEA. 1944-07-19. THE GRAVE OF QX1071 CORPORAL J.A. FRENCH, VC, 2/9TH INFANTRY BATTALION IN THE MILNE BAY WAR CEMETERY.

074698

074700

MILNE BAY, NEW GUINEA. 1944-07-19. THE LOCALITY WHERE QX1071 CORPORAL J.A. FRENCH VC, 2/9TH INFANTRY BATTALION, WON HIS POSTHUMOUS DECORATION. THIS IMAGE JOINS PHOTOGRAPH NO. 74701.

074700

074706

MILNE BAY, NEW GUINEA. 1944-07-19. THE TYPE OF JUNGLE COUNTRY WHERE QX1071 CORPORAL J.A. FRENCH VC, 2/9TH INFANTRY BATTALION, WON HIS POSTHUMOUS AWARD. THIS IMAGE JOINS PHOTOGRAPHS NO. 74702 AND 74705.

074706

100643

CORPORAL JOHN ALEXANDER FRENCH VC, 2/9TH INFANTRY BATTALION. HE WAS AWARDED THE VICTORIA CROSS POSTHUMOUSLY FOR ACTION ON 1942-09-04, AT MILNE BAY, NEW GUINEA.

100643

100643A

Portrait of Corporal John Alexander French VC, 2/9th Infantry Battalion. He was awarded the Victoria Cross, posthumously, for action on 1942-09-04, at Milne Bay, New Guinea.

100643A

P00295.777

MODDER RIVER, SOUTH AFRICA, C 1900. OX TEAMS FORDING THE RIVER AFTER GENERAL FRENCH HAD CLEARED THE BOERS AWAY FROM THE CROSSING. (PHOTOGRAPHERS: UNDERWOOD AND UNDERWOOD. ORIGINALS IN AWM ARCHIVAL STORE)

P00295.777

P00295.778

MODDER RIVER, SOUTH AFRICA, C 1900. OX TEAMS FORDING THE RIVER AFTER GENERAL FRENCH HAD CLEARED THE BOERS AWAY FROM THE CROSSING. (PHOTOGRAPHERS: UNDERWOOD AND UNDERWOOD. ORIGINALS IN AWM ARCHIVAL STORE)

P00295.778

P00413.004

SOUTH AFRICA, BOER WAR, 1900-02-13. FORDING THE MODDER RIVER WITH BRITISH ARMY SUPPLIES AFTER PASSAGE WAS FORCED BY GENERAL FRENCH.

P00413.004

P00413.008

SOUTH AFRICA, 1900-12-26. THE INNISKILLING DRAGOONS (WITH GENERAL FRENCH'S DIVISION) PASSING ARUNDEL TO MODDER RIVER

P00413.008

P00413.029

RENSBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, 1900-12-30. GENERAL FRENCH AND STAFF EXAMINING BOER LAAGER JUST AFTER THE BOERS RETREAT AT RENSBURG.

P00413.029

P00295.065

SOUTH AFRICA, C 1900. LOCATION UNKNOWN. BRITISH LANCERS FROM GENERAL FRENCH'S CAVALRY DIVISION.(PHOTOGRAPHERS: UNDERWOOD AND UNDERWOOD. ORIGINALS IN AWM ARCHIVAL STORE)

P00295.065

P00295.071

SOUTH AFRICA, C 1900. LOCATION UNKNOWN. BRITISH LANCERS OF GENERAL FRENCH'S CAVALRY DIVISION.(PHOTOGRAPHERS: UNDERWOOD AND UNDERWOOD. ORIGINALS IN AWM ARCHIVAL STORE)

P00295.071

P01209.002

STUDIO PORTRAIT OF LIEUTENANT GENERAL J. D. P. FRENCH.

P01209.002

P00276.010

FOVANT, NEAR SALISBURY, WILTSHIRE, ENGLAND. 31 JANUARY 1916. WOUNDED MEN OF THE 1ST/6TH CITY OF LONDON RIFLES AFTER INSPECTION BY VISCOUNT FRENCH OF YPRES, BELGIUM, AT NO 1. CAMP. R.C. SWANN IS STANDING, BACK ROW, 4TH FROM LEFT.

P00276.010

P09137.008

Grave of QX1071 Corporal John Alexander French VC, 2/9th Infantry Battalion. He was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for action on 4 September 1942 at Milne Bay, New Guinea.

P09137.008

Art

'Greetings for Cake "Derby" Day'

A sketch depicting a soldier seated in front of packages of Cake for 'Derby' Day and a smiling native woman seated beside him. Corporal John Alexander French. French, a soldier and barber, was born on 15 July 1914 at Crows Nest, near Toowoomba, Queensland, third of five children of Albert French,...

ART93092

Technology

Italian Model 1891 Carcano Bayonet and Scabbard : Corporal J A French, VC, 2/9 Battalion

Italian Model 1891 Carcano bayonet and scabbard. The hilt is a cruciform design with a straight quillon and has a muzzle ring of 12.5 mm. The plain wooden grips are attached to the tang with two rivets. The crossguard is stamped 1F6632 and the pommel 1. The pommel has a push buttom locking bolt and...

RELAWM32409

Timeline

Date of birth 1914-07-15
Date of death 1942-09-04