Forging the Nation - Captain Albert Jacka
Australia's greatest front-line soldier
Albert Jacka joined the AIF in September 1914 as 21-year old private and landed on Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. A few weeks later, on 19 May, he helped repel a Turkish assault at Courtney's Post. During the action he attacked a group of the enemy with his rifle and bayonet and recaptured the position. For this he became the first Australian to win the Victoria Cross in the First World War.
Next year in France, as an officer at the battle for Pozières, he performed an equally bold action for which he was awarded the Military Cross. Although seriously wounded, his attack on the enemy was described by the official war historian as "the most dramatic and effective act of individual audacity in the history of the AIF". At Bullecourt in April 1917 he won a bar to his MC for further brave individual work.
Jacka became known throughout the AIF for his bravery. His 14th Battalion was called "Jacka's Mob". He was courageous, straightforward and unpretentious. He was wounded again near Messines in July 1917 and badly gassed in May 1918.
In 1919 Albert Jacka came home to Australia and was greeted by a civic reception. He was most renowned in Victoria where he had always lived. He went into business and did well until the Depression. He became mayor of St Kilda. Even his early death in 1932 did not diminish his status among former diggers for whom his gravesite became a place of annual pilgrimage: Eight VC winners were his pallbearers.