Biography

Birth date: 21 January 1892
Birth place: Australia: Western Australia, York
Death date: 25 May 1975
Death place: Australia: Victoria, Melbourne
Final rank: Lieutenant
Service number: 422 - First World War, 1914-1918
Unit: 16th Australian Infantry Battalion

Dominic McCarthy was born in York, Western Australia, in August 1892. Having been orphaned at a young age, McCarthy listed no next of kin on his attestation papers when he joined the Australian Imperial Force in October 1914. He was brought up in Clontarf Orphanage in Perth and educated in Catholic schools.

Private McCarthy was posted to the 16th Battalion where his large build earned him the nickname "Fats". The battalion landed at Gallipoli on 26 April 1915 and McCarthy remained on the peninsula until illness forced his evacuation in September. By then he had been promoted to sergeant. He returned to duty in November and was among the last in his battalion to leave Gallipoli on 20 December.

By June 1916 the 16th Battalion were in France where they took part in the fighting at Pozières and Mouquet Farm in August. McCarthy was promoted to company sergeant major in March 1917 and the following month was commissioned as a second lieutenant. The day after receiving his commission, McCarthy was wounded at Bullecourt and evacuated to England where he spent three months in hospital and convalescing. In November he was promoted to lieutenant and was awarded the French Croix de Guerre. He spent the months between February and August 1918 training troops in England, before rejoining his battalion in time for the offensive that began on 8 August.

Just over two weeks later, on 23 August, McCarthy performed what some regarded as the most effective piece of individual fighting in the history of the AIF next to Albert Jacka's Military Cross winning feat at Pozières. McCarthy, leading the 16th Battalion's "D" Company, attained his objectives, but the battalion on their left had been held up by German machine guns. He and a sergeant attacked the machine-gun posts, capturing 460 metres of German trench and forcing the surrender of between forty and fifty Germans. McCarthy was unscathed, the sergeant wounded. For this McCarthy was awarded the Victoria Cross that, within his battalion and in some quarters of the London press, came to be known as the "super-VC".

Ten days after the war ended, on 21 November 1918, McCarthy was evacuated to England with influenza. He returned to Australia in December 1919, having married Florence Norville the previous January. Their only son, Lawrence, was killed in action on Bougainville in 1945. McCarthy was demobilised in August 1920. He returned to Western Australia but moved to Victoria in 1926. He gained employment with the Sunshine Harvester Works remaining with them until 1934 when the company was forced to lay off staff during the depression. He found new work the following year with the Trustees, Executors & Agency Co., and remained with that company until his retirement in 1969.

McCarthy died at Heidleberg Repatriation Hospital in Melbourne in May 1975 and was cremated with full military honours.

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Rolls and Awards

  • Rank: Sergeant
  • Date of embarkation: 22 December 1914
  • Place of embarkation: Melbourne
  • Recommended for: Victoria Cross
  • Unit: 16th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Victoria Cross
  • Unit: 16th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: French Croix de Guerre
  • Unit: 16th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: French Croix de Guerre
  • Unit: 16th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Victoria Cross
  • Unit: 16th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Victoria Cross
  • Unit: 16th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: French Croix de Guerre
  • Unit: 16th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Collection Items

Photograph

Digitised Collection

Timeline

Date of birth 1892-01-21
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1914-10-16 Went to Blackboy Hill Camp to join the 16th Battalion as a private.
Date of embarkation 1914-12-22
Other 1915-04-26 The 16th Battalion landed at Gallipoli.
Date promoted 1915-05-13 Appointed lance corporal.
Date promoted 1915-07-19 Appointed corporal.
Other 1915-09 Evacuated due to illness and rejoined the unit in late November.
Date promoted 1915-09-01 Appointed sergeant.
Other 1915-12-20 Left Gallipoli.
Other 1916-06 16th Battalion deployed in France.
Other 1916-08 The 16th Battalion was involved in action at Pozieres and Mouquet Farm.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917-01-18
Other 1917-03-08 Appointed company sergeant major.
Date commissioned 1917-04 Appointed to 2nd lieutenant.
Date wounded 1917-04 Wounded in the first attack on Bullecourt and evacuated to England.
Date of honour or award 1917-11 French Croix de Guerre.
Date promoted 1917-11-01 Appointed to lieutenant.
Other 1918-02 Trained troops in England.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-08
Other 1918-08 McCarthy's position training troops finished when he rejoined his battalion in France.
Date of honour or award 1918-08-23 Awarded Victoria Cross for action at near Madame Wood, west of Vermandovillers, France, whilst serving as a lieutenant with 16th Battalion, 4th Brigade, 4th Division. The forward movement of McCarthy's company was blocked by German machine guns. McCarthy crossed open ground to attack the enemy trench. McCarthy inflicted serious causalities and had captured much of the trench before he was joined by one of his men.
Other 1918-11-21 Fell ill and evacuated to hospital rejoining the 16th Battalion on 7 January 1919.
Date returned to Australia 1919-12-20
Date of discharge 1920-08-06 McCarthy was demobilised.
Date of death 1975-05-25 Died at Heidleberg Repatriation Hospital in Melbourne, VIC.