This company of brave men: Gallipoli VCs - Detail
A special 95th Gallipoli anniversary touring exhibition
On 25 April 1915 Australians and New Zealanders – the ANZACs – were part of the historic landings on the Turkish Gallipoli peninsula. During the ill-fated eight-month-long campaign that followed, these men displayed courage, endurance, initiative, discipline, and mateship. Such qualities came to be called “the ANZAC spirit”. Nine Australians were awarded the Victoria Cross, with most of the awards made for actions performed during the battle of Lone Pine. The first of these men, Lance Corporal Albert Jacka, immediately became a national hero.
On 19–20 May 1915, in an almost superhuman effort, Jacka successfully attacked the enemy soldiers who had occupied his trench. He did so single-handedly as those around him had already been killed or wounded. Later in the war this extraordinary soldier performed more brave deeds, two of which are often described as being as important as that for which he received his Victoria Cross.
Second Lieutenant Hugo Throssell won his award for bravery at Hill 60 in late August, thereby becoming the only light horseman to be so honoured. In heavy action, he fought on despite receiving numerous wounds, inspiring all those around him. Even after his wounds were dressed, he continued to fight.
The Battle of Lone Pine
The battle is remarkable in that seven Australians won the Victoria Cross on a small stretch of ground on the Turkish Gallipoli ridge – with four going to a single battalion in just 24 hours. It was here on 6 August that a bayonet assault was launched against the enemy lines. Reaching the trenches, the Australians found them covered with stout logs and had to fight their way in. The Australians then had to hold on for four days against heavy counter-attacks. Losses were heavy.
These were furious actions. Captain Alfred Shout had been one of the heroes of the original landing at ANZAC in April. Now at Lone Pine he personally led attacks until a grenade exploded in his hand, mortally wounding him. At one point Lieutenant Frederick Tubb and Corporals Alexander Burton and William Dunstan fought side-by-side. Tubb was wounded, and Burton was killed in the savage fighting. All three got the Victoria Cross. Other awards went to Private John Hamilton, Lance Corporal Leonard Keysor, and Lieutenant William Symons. Hamilton was just 19.