Biography

Birth date: 15 December 1908
Birth place: Australia: Western Australia
Death date: 22 July 1942
Death place: North Africa: Western Desert, Western Desert (Egypt), Tel el Eisa
Final rank: Private
Service number: WX9858 - Second World War, 1939-1945
Unit: 2/48th Australian Infantry Battalion

Stan Gurney was born on the Murchison goldfields, Western Australia. He was a week short of his 32nd birthday, and employed by the Perth Electricity and Gas Depot, when he enlisted in the Second AIF in December 1940. A vigorous and athletic man, he had been a champion cyclist. Posted to the 2/48th Battalion, he became one of the "Rats of Tobruk".

During fighting at Tel el Eisa on 22 July 1942, Gurney attacked three enemy machine-gun posts which had been holding up his company's advance. He had already stormed the first two, killing the occupants with his bayonet, and was approaching the third when a stick of grenades exploded, knocking him over. He continued on and charged the third post, "using the bayonet with great vigour" until killed. His body was later recovered from the post. His citation claimed that his company's successful attack "was almost entirely due to Private Gurney's heroism at the moment when it was needed".

Gurney was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, he also received service medals for the Second World War.

Rolls and Awards

Roll of Honour

  • Rank: Private
  • Date of Death: 22 July 1942
  • Unit: 2/48th Australian Infantry Battalion

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Honours and Awards : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 2/48th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Collection Items

Photograph

015027

COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF IN W.A. THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE ALLIED LAND FORCES IN THE S.W. PACIFIC, GENERAL SIR THOMAS BLAMEY, MET THE RELATIVES OF TWO WEST AUST., V.C. WINNERS DURING HIS VISIT IN THE PICTURE ARE GENERAL BLAMEY, MR GEORGE GURNEY, FATHER, AND MRS R. CLUED, SISTER OF THE LATE PTE. A.S....

015027

100639

Portrait of Private Arthur Stanley Gurney, 2/48th Australian Infantry Battalion, 2nd AIF, who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for gallantry and unselfish bravery during an attack on a strong German position at Tel el Eisa, west of El Alamein, Egypt, on 1942-07-22. His action...

100639

100639A

Portrait of Private Arthur Stanley Gurney, 2/48th Australian Infantry Battalion, 2nd AIF, who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for gallantry and unselfish bravery during an attack on a strong German position at Tel el Eisa, west of El Alamein, Egypt, on 1942-07-22. His action...

100639A

P05525.006

The desert grave of WX9858 Private (Pte) Arthur Stanley Gurney VC, D Company, 2/48th Battalion, of Victoria Park, WA. An electricity and gas worker prior to enlisting in Claremont, WA, on 6 December 1940, Pte Gurney was killed in action in Egypt, on 22 July 1942, aged 33 years. He was posthumously...

P05525.006

Film

General Blamey in Western Australia

Coverage of General Blamey inspecting various units in Western Australia. Identified personnel: Lieutenant General Gordon Bennett, Mr George Gurney father and Mrs R Clunnes, sister of the late Private A S Gurney VC, Mrs Gratwick mother of the late Private Gratwick VC.

F01840

The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (WX9858) Private Arthur Stanley Gurney, 2/48th Battalion, 2nd AIF, Second World War

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind...

PAFU2014/149.01

Private Record

Heraldry

Winter service dress tunic : Private A S Gurney, 2/48 Battalion, AIF

Other rank's khaki wool winter service dress tunic with oxidised brass Australian Military Forces buttons, Rising Sun collar badges and 'AUSTRALIA' shoulder titles. Each upper sleeve bears a wool flannel colour patch for 2/48 Battalion. The tunic has pleated patch breast pockets and plain expanding...

REL/13475.001

Winter service dress trousers : Private Arthur Stanley Gurney, 2/48 Battalion, AIF

Pair khaki wool other rank's service dress trousers with a slash pocket in each side seam. There are six white metal fly buttons and a further six white metal buttons sewn to the outside of the waist for the attachment of braces. The buttons impressed with 'DEFENCE DEPT' and King's Crown. The...

REL/13475.002

Pair of multi-purpose scissors : Private A S Gurney VC, 2/48 Battalion

Pair of steel multi purpose scissors.The outer edges of both blades have a textured finish for use as a nail file. Both points are worn or broken.

REL/13477

Green plastic fountain pen : Private A S Gurney VC, 2/48 Battalion

Green celluloid fountain pen with two nickel plated metal bands around end of the cap cap. Each end has a black screw off cap. The nib is not complete.

REL/13478

Pocket Knife : Private A S Gurney VC, 2/48 Battalion

Pocket knife with two folding blades. The handle has a steel cap at each end where blades hinge from body. One blade has a broken tip. Body of knife has a shallow recess in one side with a small locating pin in centre, possibly for a manufacturer's nameplate.

REL/13479

Smoker's pipe : Private A S Gurney VC, 2/48 Battalion

Smoker's pipe. The bowl and shank is made from a single piece of briar wood. Impressed into the shank is 'Dr Plumb PERFECT PIPE' and 'MADE IN FRANCE'. Impressed on sterling silver band connecting the shank to the bakelite stem is 'DR PLUMB' and the manufacterer's hallmarks. The lip at end of stem...

REL/13480

Souvenir powder compact : Private A S Gurney VC, 2/48 Battalion, AIF

Small souvenir powder compact with pull out drawer containing powder applicator and gauze bottomed dish to hold powder. The lid to the drawer is spring loaded and folds back to reveal a mirror when opened. Drawer is pulled out using a pale blue tassel connected to a lug on the drawer. Upper and...

REL/13481

British War Medal 1939-45 : Private A S Gurney, 2/48 Battalion

British War Medal 1939-45. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

REL22319.004

1939-45 Star : Private A S Gurney, 2/48 Battalion

1939-45 Star. Impressed reverse with recipient's details.

REL22319.001

Australia Service Medal : Private A S Gurney, 2/48 Battalion

Australia Service Medal. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

REL22319.005

Defence Medal : Private A S Gurney, 2/48 Battalion

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

REL22319.003

Africa Star : Private A S Gurney, 2/48 Battalion

Africa Star. Impressed reverse with recipient's details.

REL22319.002

Victoria Cross : Private A S Gurney, 2/48 Battalion

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

REL22319.006

Timeline

Date of birth 1908-12-15
Date of death 1942-07-22
Date of honour or award 1942-07-22 Awarded the Victoria Cross for action at Tel el Hesi, Palestine (now Israel) whilst serving with 2/48 Battalion, 26 Brigade, 9 Division as a Private.