Biography

Birth date: 01 December 1880
Birth place: Australia: Tasmania, Launceston
Death date: 07 January 1966
Death place: Australia: Queensland, Miles
Final rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Service number: 315 - First World War, 1914-1918
Units:
  • 13th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • 16th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • 4th Australian Machine Gun Battalion
  • 4th Australian Machine Gun Company
  • 26th Australian Infantry Battalion

Harry Murray was born at Launceston, Tasmania, on 1 December 1880. As a youth he helped run the family farm. He was also interested in the military and joined a militia unit, the Australian Field Artillery, in Launceston.

Murray moved to Western Australia at the age of 19 or 20 where he worked as a mail courier on the goldfields. When he enlisted in the AIF as a private on 30 September 1914, he was employing timber-cutters for the railways in the south west of Western Australia. He landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 as a member of one of the 16th Battalion's two machine-gun crews. Murray was wounded several times, spent June in hospital, was promoted to lance corporal on 13 May and won the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his bravery between 9-31 May. He was wounded again on 8 July and a month later experienced a remarkable series of promotions. On 13 August he was made a sergeant, commissioned second-lieutenant and transferred to the 13th Battalion.

By 1 March 1916 Murray had reached the rank of captain and soon after sailed for France with the 13th Battalion. On the Western Front Murray defied the statistics, participating in each of his unit's major actions and surviving. He received the Distinguished Service Order for his role in the fighting at Mouquet Farm, where he was twice wounded. His wounds kept Murray from the front until October.

Four months later, on the night of 4-5 February, Murray led his company's attack on Stormy Trench, near Gueudecourt. Over almost 24 hours they repelled counter-attacks, fought in merciless close quarter battles and suffered under intense shell-fire. Some 230 members of the Battalion were killed in the fight and Murray won the Victoria Cross.

In March 1918 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and given command of the 4th machine gun battalion. He remained in this position until the end of the war. In April during the attack on Bullecourt Murray won a bar to his Distinguished Service Cross. In October 1918 Murray was awarded the French Croix de Guerre and in May 1919 was promoted to CMG.

With the fighting over, Murray toured England studying agricultural methods. His service in the AIF ended on 9 March 1920 and he settled on a grazing property at Muckadilla in Queensland. The following year he married Constance Cameron, but the marriage lasted just a few years and in 1925 he moved to New Zealand where he married Ellen Cameron. The couple returned to Queensland in 1928 and purchased another grazing property at Richmond.

Murray enlisted for service during the Second World War and commanded the 26th Battalion in north Queensland until August 1942. He retired from the army in early 1944. Regarded as a shy and modest man, he was described as the most distinguished fighting officer of the AIF. Murray died of a heart attack following a car accident on 7 January 1966.

Rolls and Awards

First World War Embarkation Roll

  • Rank: Private
  • Date of embarkation: 22 December 1914
  • Place of embarkation: Melbourne

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Distinguished Service Order

  • Unit: 13th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Distinguished Service Order

  • Unit: 13th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Mention in despatches

  • Unit: 4th Australian Machine Gun Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : French Croix de Guerre

  • Unit: 4th Australian Machine Gun Company
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Bar to Distinguished Service Order

  • Unit: 13th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Bar to Distinguished Service Order

  • Unit: 13th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Bar to Distinguished Service Order

  • Unit: 13th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation)

  • Unit: 4th Australian Machine Gun Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Bar to Distinguished Service Order

  • Unit: 13th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 13th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Military Cross

  • Unit: 13th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George

  • Unit: 4th Australian Machine Gun Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 13th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Mention in despatches

  • Unit: 13th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Distinguished Conduct Medal

  • Unit: 16th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Mention in despatches

  • Unit: 4th Australian Machine Gun Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George

  • Unit: 4th Australian Machine Gun Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : French Croix de Guerre

  • Unit: 4th Australian Machine Gun Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Bar to Distinguished Service Order

  • Unit: 13th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Distinguished Service Order

  • Unit: 13th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Mention in despatches

  • Unit: 4th Australian Machine Gun Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Mention in despatches

  • Unit: 13th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Art

Lieutenant Colonel Henry Murray

Depicts a portrait of Lieutenant Colonel Henry William Murray (1883-1966) VC, CMG, DSO and Bar, DCM, MID, Commanding the 4th Machine Gun Battalion, AIF in France and was awarded a Victoria Cross for his actions at Guendecourt. One of the 12 portraits delivered by Bell to Australia House, June 1919....

ART00101

Photograph

C00576

Portrait of 2nd Lieutenant (Lt) Henry William Murray DCM, Officer Commanding 13th Battalion Machine Gun Section, in his dugout at Durrant's Post on the Gallipoli Peninsula. In subsequent years 2nd Lt Murray rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was awarded a VC, CMG, DSO and bar, and the...

C00576

C00579

Lieutenant Henry William Murray of the 13th Battalion in a trench on the Gallipoli Peninsula. He was later promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was awarded a VC, DSO and DCM. (A better image is held at J06502.)

C00579

H00009

STUDIO PORTRAIT OF MAJOR HENRY WILLIAM MURRAY VC, 13TH BATTALION.

H00009

J06502

LT. COL. MURRAY VC DSO DCM (THEN A SECOND LIEUTENANT IN THE 13TH BATTALION) IN A TRENCH ON CHESHIRE RIDGE, GALLIPOLI, 1915-11.

J06502

P01465.002

Studio portrait of Second Lieutenant Henry William (Harry) Murray DCM, 13th Battalion. Murray was later awarded the VC, DSO and Bar, and Croix de Guerre, ending the war as a Lieutenant Colonel.

P01465.002

P01465.003

Studio portrait of Captain Henry William (Harry) Murray DCM, 13th Battalion (left), with his nephew Keith Murray Adams RN (right), and Uncle Captain William Thomas Littler. Murray was later awarded the VC, DSO and Bar and Croix de Guerre, ending the war as a Lieutenant Colonel.

P01465.003

P01465.004

LAUNCESTON, TAS. STUDIO PORTRAIT OF LIEUTENANT COLONEL HENRY WILLIAM (HARRY) MURRAY VC, DSO AND BAR, DCM, CROIX DE GUERRE. (PHOTOGRAPHER WHITELAW'S STUDIOS, LAUNCESTON) (DONOR J. COCKER)

P01465.004

P02939.053

Studio portrait of Major (Maj) Henry William Murray VC DSO and bar DCM, 13th Battalion. Maj Murray was awarded the Victoria Cross as a Captain (Capt) for "most conspicuous bravery" on 4 - 5 February 1917 at Stormy Trench, France. Capt Murray led his company in an attack and quickly captured the...

P02939.053

E01728

Group portrait of the officers of the 13th Battalion. Left to right, back row: Lieutenant (Lt) William Harry Merifield; Lt H. B. Brown MC DCM MM; Lt H. Simpson; Lt J. W. Watson; Lt L. W. H. Clelland MC; Lt H. B. Davis MC; Lt J. D. Westwood MC. Middle row: Lt B. C. J. Rose MC DCM; Lt E. A. Hall; Lt...

E01728

C00561

Informal portrait of Captain Douglas Gray Marks, 13th Battalion at one of the machine gun posts commanded by 2nd Lieutenant Henry William Murray on Cheshire Ridge, Gallipoli Peninsula.

C00561

P01465.001

Group portrait of some of the first recruits to the Machine Gun Section, 16th Infantry Battalion at Blackboy Hill Camp, Western Australia. Identified from left to right: mounted on the draught horse is 366 Private (Pte) Albert McLeod; standing in the back row: 637 Pte William Ronald Leslie Rowley...

P01465.001

E02758

Lieutenant General Sir John Monash KCB VD, presenting decorations to members of the 4th Australian Infantry Brigade, after their success in the battle of Hamel. Left to right: Unidentified soldier receiving decoration; Brigadier General C. H. Brand CB CMG DSO; General Monash; Captain P. W....

E02758

E02757

Lieutenant General Sir John Monash KCB VD, presenting decorations to members of the 4th Australian Infantry Brigade, after their successful engagements at Hamel and Vaire Wood. Sports prizes were also distributed by General Monash and are seen on the table. Left to right: Unidentified soldier...

E02757

A00800

A trench block, showing debris probably after a bombing, mess tins are (right) behind a sand bag. The success of the battle at Stormy Trench was largely due to the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel (then Captain) Henry William Murray, VC, CMG, DCM, DSO and Bar, 13th Battalion, for which he won the...

A00800

E00450

General Sir William Riddell Birdwood (centre) shaking hands with Major H W Murray VC DSO DCM (left), 16th Battalion (later commanding officer of the 4th Machine Gun Company) after presenting him with a bar to his DSO for bravery during the first attack on Bullecourt, near the Hindenburg Line. The...

E00450

Published Collection

Cigarette card of Major Murray, VC DCM

Cigarette card showing a portrait of Major Henry William Murray VC, DCM. Part of a series of cards depicting Australian VC's and Officers printed by Sniders and Abrahams.

RC00751

Private Record

Technology

Smith & Wesson Model 94 Revolver : Captain H. W. Murray, VC, CMG, DSO, 13 Battalion, AIF

Smith & Wesson Model 94 double action, six shot revolver. Barrel top stamped with the Smith & Wesson address and patent dates. The barrel left side is stamped SMITH & WESSON and the right side of the frame has the S&W trade mark. The wooden checkered grips have a small brass disc with S&W in the...

REL/11538

Model 1916 Grenade Launcher (Granatenwerfer 16) : 13 Battalion, AIF

This Model 16 grenade launcher (Granatenwerfer) is made from ordnance steel. It features a spigot shaft and body which is attached to a base plate. An elevation scale is attached to the left side. A trigger bolt is on top of the firing housing and a cocking lever is attached to the right side of...

REL35049

Timeline

Date of birth 1880-12-01 Launceston, TAS.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1902 Enlisted in the militia, Australian Field Artillery, Launceston.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1914-09-30 Enlisted in the 16th Battalion, AIF, as a private.
Date of embarkation 1914-12-22
Other 1915-04-25 Landed at Gallipoli with the 16th Battalion.
Date promoted 1915-05-13 Appointed lance corporal.
Date wounded 1915-05-30 Wounded in action, recieved gun shot wound to right knee.
Date of honour or award 1915-06-20 Awarded Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for his bravery during actions between 9-31 May.
Date wounded 1915-07-08 Wounded in action, remained on duty.
Date commissioned 1915-08-13 Appointed sergeant, comissioned 2nd lieutenant and transferred to the 13th Battalion.
Other 1915-09-26 Arrived in Egypt from Gallpoli. Murray was evacuated from gallipoli due to a medical condition.
Other 1915-12-07 Returned to Gallipoli.
Date promoted 1916-01-20 Appointed lieutenant.
Date promoted 1916-03-01 Appointed captain.
Other 1916-06-08 The 13th Battalion arrived in France.
Date wounded 1916-08-30 Wounded in action, gun shot wound in left thigh and back.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1916-09-03
Date of honour or award 1916-10-25 Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). 'On 29th Aug during the attack at Mouquet Farm, this officer commanded the left flank Coy of the 13th Bn front line which was heavily shelled from daylight until dark. By his personal example he inspired confidence and resolution into his men throughout the day so that at 11pm when the assault was delivered they moved steadily forward to the attack. Despite extremely heavy rifle and machine gun fire and bombing the objective was taken but the Coy was then so weakened by the losses that there was a tendency to give way before the strong counter attack which the enemy immediately made. By the fine example set by Cpt Murray they beat off this attack and three subsequent attacks. Rifles were useless owing to the mud but Capt Murray extemporised a system of bombs supply and the fight continued for one hour during which he was twice wounded (since evacuated) but continued fighting. At one period an enemy bullet started a man's equipment exploding whereupon Capt Murray rushed to the man and tore his equipment off him thus saving the man's life at great personal risk. Realising that it was useless to remain longer in the German trenches Capt Murray then arranged the retirement of the remains of his Coy in the coollest [sic] possible manner although he had just previously shot two Germans in the hand-to-hand encounter. He continued on duty until all was safe on the morning of the 30th when, fainting from loss of blood he was compelled to hand over his Coy. For coolness, bravery and soldierlike qualities this officer ranks among the best in the Australian Forces and is recommended for very high distinction.'
Date of honour or award 1916-12-31 Mention in Despatches.
Date of honour or award 1917-01-02 Mention in Despatches.
Date of honour or award 1917-02-04 - 1917-02-05 Awarded Victoria Cross. Murray's recomendation for this award stated 'Capt Murray commanded the Right flank Coy in the attack by the 13th Battn on Stormy Trench, N.E. of Guedecourt on night of 4-5/2/17. I placed him on the Right flank because it was the most dangerous and critical. He led his Coy to the assault with great skill and courage and the position was quickly captured. Then followed the severest fighting in the history of the 13th Battn and I am sure that the position could not have been held and our efforts crowned by victory but for the wonderful work of this Officer, His Coy beat off one counter attack after another, three big attacks in all, although one of these consisted of no less than five separate bombing attacks. All through the night the enemy concentrated the fire of many 4.2s and 5.9s on the sector of trench held by this Coy, and in 24 hours the fighting strength dwindled steadily from 140 to 48, 92 casualties including 1 Officer killed and 2 Officers wounded. On one occasion the men gave ground for 20 yards but Capt Murray rused to the front and rallied them by sheer valour, with his revolver in one hand and a bomb in the other he was ubiquitous, cheering his men heading bombing parties leading bayonet charges or carrying wounded from the dangerously shelled areas, with unequalled bravery. So great was his power of inspiration, so great was his example that not a single man in his Coy reported himself shell shocked although the shelling was frightful and the trench at times was a shambles that beggars discription [sic]. His Coy would follow him anywhere and die for him to a man. He won the D.C.M. at Anzac and the D.S.O. at Mouquet Farm in France. I most strongly recommend Capt Murray for the Victoria Cross.'
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917-02-05
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917-02-07
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917-04-16
Date promoted 1917-04-18 Appointed temporary major.
Date of honour or award 1917-06-18 Bar to Distinguished Service Order.
Date promoted 1917-07-12 Confirmed major.
Date of honour or award 1917-11-07 Mention in Despatches.
Date of honour or award 1917-12-25 Mention in Despatches.
Other units 1918-03-08 Joined 4th Machine Gun Battalion.
Date promoted 1918-03-15 Appointed temporary lieutenant colonel and commanding officer 4th Machine Gun Battalion.
Date promoted 1918-05-24 Appointed lieutenant colonel.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-09-17
Other units 1918-09-24 - 1918-10-02 Attached to the 2nd American Corps in the role of technical advisor.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-09-27
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-09-30
Date of honour or award 1918-10-05 Awarded the French Criox de Guerre.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1919-01-30
Date of honour or award 1919-05 Created Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG).
Date of honour or award 1919-07-11 Mention in Despatches.
Other 1920-01-01 Transferred to the Reserve of Officers
Date of discharge 1920-03-09 AIF appointment ended.
Date and unit at appointment (Officers) 1939-04-17 Transferred to the Reserve of Officers.
Date and unit at appointment (Officers) 1939-07-21 Returned to the Active List to command the 26th Battalion which performed coastal defence tasks in North Queensland until September 1942.
Other 1941-09-05 Returned to full time duty.
Other 1941-11-17 - 1941-11-22 Attended a Motor Transport course at Annerly.
Other units 1942-08-03 Seconded 23rd battalion Volunteer Defence Corps.
Other 1942-08-10 Relinquished command 26th Battalion
Other 1942-08-18 Transferred to the Reserve of Officers.
Other units 1942-08-19 Appointed in command of F group Volunteer Defence Corps.
Date of discharge 1944-02-07 Relinquished command F group Volunteer Defence Corps and retired from active military duty.
Other 1956 Attended Victoria Cross Centenary in London.
Date of death 1966-01-07 Died in hospital of a heart attack following a car accident in Miles, QLD.