Biography

Birth date: 27 November 1896
Birth place: Australia: South Australia, Crystal Brook
Death date: 09 April 1937
Death place: United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London
Final rank: Corporal
Service number: 133003 - First World War, 1914-1918
56133 - First World War, 1914-1918
Unit: 45th Bn RF (Aty Dtls)

Arthur Sullivan, born at Prospect, Adelaide, was a bank officer when he enlisted in April 1918. Too late for active service in France, and determined to see action, he volunteered for the British North Russia Relief Force.

On 10 August 1919, in action against the Bolsheviks, Sullivan's unit was cut off. While fighting their way out, an officer and three men fell into a deep swamp. Without hesitation and under heavy fire, Sullivan jumped in and rescued all four. His citation described the action as "a splendid example of heroism, as all ranks were on the point of exhaustion and the enemy less than 100 yards distant".

Known as "the shy VC", Sullivan died in 1937 as a result of a fall he sustained in London while a member of the Australian contingent attending the coronation of King George VI. A plaque has been placed on the railing at Wellington Barracks, near the site of his fatal accident.

Sullivan received the Victoria Cross, service medals for the First World War and the King George VI Coronation Medal.

Rolls and Awards

First World War Embarkation Roll

  • Rank: Private
  • Date of embarkation: 23 July 1918
  • Place of embarkation: Melbourne

Honours and Awards : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 45th Bn RF (Aty Dtls)
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Collection Items

Photograph

A02497

Portrait of Corporal Arthur Percival Sullivan VC, a member of the AIF, who, later enlisted in the North Russian Relief Force, in the 45th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers and gained his Victoria Cross for gallantry in rescuing under fire an officer and three men from drowning whilst fighting a...

A02497

A02497A

Cropped portrait of Corporal Arthur Percival Sullivan VC, a member of the AIF, who, later enlisted in the North Russian Relief Force, in the 45th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers and gained his Victoria Cross for gallantry in rescuing under fire an officer and three men from drowning whilst...

A02497A

A05540

Corporal (Cpl) Arthur Percy Sullivan, VC, of the 45th Battalion, The Royal Fusiliers on the occasion of his investiture at Adelaide. He is wearing his Victoria Cross (VC), and is standing beside another soldier who had been awarded a Military Medal (MM). Cpl Sullivan was awarded the Victoria Cross,...

A05540

J03075

1927-04-25. AUSTRALIAN VICTORIA CROSS (VC) WINNERS WHO TOOK PART IN THE ANZAC DAY MARCH IN MELBOURNE, WAITING TO ENTER THE EXHIBITION BUILDING, WHERE A COMMEMORATION SERVICE WAS HELD. LEFT TO RIGHT: CAPTAIN R.C. GRIEVE, 2ND LIEUT W. RUTHVEN, CAPT J.E. NEWLAND, 2ND LIEUT J. HAMILTON, LIEUT. A....

J03075

J03076

MELBOURNE, AUS. 1927-04-25. AUSTRALIAN VICTORIA CROSS (VC) WINNERS WHO TOOK PART IN THE 1927 ANZAC DAY MARCH. IN THE BACKGROUND ARE THE KING'S AND REGIMENTAL COLOURS OF THE A.M.F. BATTALIONS AND REGIMENTS. LEFT TO RIGHT:- CORPORAL (CPL) B.S. GORDON MM, CPL T.L. AXFORD MM, CPL J. CARROLL, SERGEANT...

J03076

P00970.001

PORTRAIT OF ARTHUR PERCY SULLIVAN VC. TAKEN IN 1937, SHORTLY BEFORE HIS DEATH. (SULLIVAN WAS AWARDED THE VC FOR ACTIONS AT DVINA RIVER, NORTH RUSSIA, ON 1919-08-10).

P00970.001

P04975.006

Group portrait of members of the Australian 1937 Coronation Contingent pose in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza (Gizeh). Identified are Lewis David Price (back row, fourth from right on a camel) and Arthur Sullivan VC (back row, third from right). 56133 Private Sullivan won the Victoria Cross...

P04975.006

Heraldry

Victoria Cross : Corporal A P Sullivan, 45 Battalion, Royal Fusiliers

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

REL/05670.001

British War Medal 1914-20 : Corporal A P Sullivan, 45 Battalion, Royal Fusiliers

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

REL/05670.002

Victory Medal : Corporal A P Sullivan, 45 Battalion, Royal Fusiliers

Victory Medal. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

REL/05670.003

George VI Coronation Medal : A P Sullivan, VC

George VI Coronation Medal. Unnamed as issued.

REL/05670.004

Technology

British Machete and Scabbard : Corporal A P Sullivan,VC, 45 Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (British North Russia Relief Force)

British Machete and Scabbard. The hilt has plain wood grips held to the tang with five large copper rivets. The pommel slot has part of a rifle 'pull through' rope made into a wrist strap threaded through the hole. The plain blade is a bolo style being 2.75 inches at the widest point. It has...

RELAWM08181

Timeline

Date of birth 1896-11-27
Enlisted 1918-04-27 enlisted AIF Service no. 56133, Private
Date of embarkation 1918-07-23
Military unit 1919-06 Enlisted in British Army. 45th Battalion, the Royal Fusiliers
Discharged 1919-06-12 discharged from AIF
Awarded Victoria Cross 1919-08-10 For action at Dvins River, south of Archangel, north Russia whilst serving with 45 Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, Sadlier Jackson's Brigade as a Corporal
Date of death 1937-04-09