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Victoria CrossThe Battalions'

Victoria Cross Winners

 

 

The 1st Battalion and the 19th Battalion had distinguished histories in both the 1914-18 and 1939-45 wars.  In total there were five (5) Victoria Crosses won by men serving in the battalions, four during the 1914-18 conflict and one in the 1939-45 conflict.

 

 

These men are:

  1. Corporal George Julian HOWELL
  2. Lance Corporal Leonard Maurice KEYSOR
  3. Captain Alfred John SHOUT
  4. Lieutenant Percy Valentine STORKEY
  5. Lieutenant Colonel Charles Groves Wright ANDERSON

Corporal George Howell VCHOWELL George Julian
RANK Corporal
UNIT 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Division DATE 6 May 1917
PLACE Bullecourt, France

'SNOWY' HOWELL was born at Enfield, New South Wales, on 19 November 1893, to Francis John and Martha Howell.  Educated at the Croydon Park and Burwood Public Schools, he took up bricklaying and later became a builder in the Enfield area of Sydney.  He enlisted on 3 June 1915 and was posted as a reinforcement to the 1st Battalion, which he joined on Gallipoli on 1 November.  Howell went with the 1st to France and was wounded in July 1916 during the battle of Pozieres; he was appointed lance corporal on 10 December and promoted to corporal on 6 February 1917.

 

On 9 April Howell was awarded the Military Medal for courage and devotion to duty while leading a rifle bombing section during the 1st Battalion's capture of the village of Demicourt.  Fourteen divisions, including the 2nd Australian Division, attacked the Hindenburg line on 3 May 1917.

 

Only the Canadians on the extreme right and the 6th Australian Brigade on the extreme left were able to take and hold their objectives.  In the next few days more troops were drawn in to hold and extend the gains of 3 May.  When the Germans launched a general counter-attack on 6 May they used flame-throwers, which caused the 3rd Brigade to withdraw from its trenches.  At 6 a.m. Howell notified battalion headquarters that the battalion to his right was retiring.  The 1st Battalion commander then hurriedly organized a group to resist the enemy assault and a fierce bombing fight ensued.  Howell, fearing that the enemy would outflank his battalion, climbed on to the top of the parapet and bombed the enemy, forcing them back along the trench.  When his bombs ran out Howell continued to pursue the enemy with his bayonet but as he was exposed to heavy bomb and rifle fire it was not long before he was severely wounded.  In the interval, the retreating battalions rallied and a party from the 1st succeeded in reclaiming the ground lost to the enemy earlier. Howell received both the Victoria Cross and Military Medal from King George V at Buckingham Palace on 21 July 1917.

 

Howell's multiple wounds necessitated prolonged hospital treatment and he was returned to Australia in October 1917 and discharged on 5 June 1918.  On 1 March 1919 he married a nurse, Sadie Lillian Yates, at St Stephen's Presbyterian Church, Sydney, and they settled at Coogee.  He then joined the advertising staff of Smiths Newspapers and later worked for the Bulletin Newspaper Company.  By 1933 he was New South Wales representative for the Standard, Brisbane, and the Queensland Worker.

 

During the 1939-45 war Howell served as an army staff sergeant at Eastern Command Headquarters, Paddington.  In August 1944 he joined the United States Sea Transport Service and was thus able to participate in the invasion of Leyte at the commencement of the Philippines campaign.

 

In December 1953 Howell moved from Sydney to Western Australia, and settled in Applecross, a suburb of Perth.  He then moved to Gunyidi, via Watheroo, and died at the Repatriation General Hospital, Perth, on 24 December 1964.  He was cremated at Karrakatta crematorium and a plaque was placed in the Western Australian Garden of Remembrance.  A soldier's club bearing his name was opened at Randwick.  He had visited London for the Victoria Cross centenary celebrations in 1956.

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  1. Corporal George Julian HOWELL
  2. Lance Corporal Leonard Maurice KEYSOR
  3. Captain Alfred John SHOUT
  4. Lieutenant Percy Valentine STORKEY
  5. Lieutenant Colonel Charles Groves Wright ANDERSON

Lance Corporal Leonard Keysor VCKEYSOR Leonard Maurice
RANK Lance Corporal
UNIT 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Division DATE 7~8 August 1915
PLACE Lone Pine trenches, Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey

LEONARD KEYSOR was born on November 1895 at Maida Vale, London, son of Benjamin Keysor.  The name was sometimes spelt Keyzor. Educated at Tonnleigh Castle, Ramsgate, he moved to Canada to settle after his schooling.  Three months before the outbreak of war he travelled to Australia and found employment in Sydney as a clerk.

 

Keysor enlisted in the AIF on 18 August 1914 and was posted to the 1st Battalion, which was just then forming at Randwick.  Keysor embarked with his unit on 18 October, trained in the Middle East and participated in the Gallipoli landing on 25 April 1915; he was appointed lance corporal on 20 June. It was at Lone Pine that Keysor won the first of seven Victoria Crosses awarded to Australians for that battle.  The Lone Pine operation commenced just before sunset on 6 August 1915 and before darkness fell the 1st Brigade had established a line of defensive posts around Lone Pine. Soon after dark the Turks moved in reinforcements and made the first of a series of bombing attacks that were to continue for three days.  On 7 August Keysor was in a trench which was being heavily bombed by the enemy.  At great risk to himself he picked up two live Turkish bombs and threw them back at the enemy.  Although wounded, he kept throwing bombs.  The next day, at the same place, he bombed the enemy out of a position which made his trench vulnerable.  He was again wounded. Although he was marked for hospital he stayed in the trenches and threw bombs for another company which had lost its bomb throwers.  Keysor kept throwing both Turkish bombs and crude Australian bombs, manufactured on the beach, for fifty hours before he allowed himself to be evacuated for treatment.  On 9 August the enemy finally abandoned their counter-attack.

 

After Lone Pine Keysor went to Britain suffering from enteric fever.  He was decorated by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 15 January 1916.  Keysor rejoined his battalion in France in March 1916 and participated in the fighting at Pozieres.  In December 1916 he was promoted to sergeant and on 13 January 1917 he was appointed second lieutenant; he was promoted to lieutenant on 28 July.  On 17 November 1916 he had transferred to the 42nd Battalion and had been twice wounded while serving with that unit, on 28 March 1918 in the Mericourt-Sailly-le-Sec line and in a gas bombardment near Villers-Bretonneux on 26 May.  Discharged on medical grounds on 12 December, Keysor returned to his pre-war employment as a clerk but, in 1920, returned to London and there, on 21 July 1921, married Gladys Benjamin at the Hill Street synagogue.  There was one daughter of the marriage.  Because he was living in Britain, he was the only Australian Victoria Cross winner of the 1914-18 war to attend the first two reunions of Victoria Cross winners, held in 1920 and 1929.

 

Keysor was, ironically, injured in 1927 while attempting to re-enact his bombing feats for a film entitled For Valour.  He again lived at Maida Vale, entered an importing business, and was on the list of reserve officers of the Australian Military Forces but was rejected for service in 1939 on medical grounds.  Keysor died in London of cancer on 12 October 1951 and was cremated after a memorial service at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, St Johns Wood.  In 1977 Keysor's Victoria Cross and other service medals (except his 1914-15 Star) were purchased at auction in London by the Returned Services League.  They are now displayed in the Hall of Valour at the Australian War Memorial.

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  1. Corporal George Julian HOWELL
  2. Lance Corporal Leonard Maurice KEYSOR
  3. Captain Alfred John SHOUT
  4. Lieutenant Percy Valentine STORKEY
  5. Lieutenant Colonel Charles Groves Wright ANDERSON

Captain Alfred Shout VCSHOUT Alfred John
RANK Captain
UNIT 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Division DATE 9 August 1915
PLACE Lone Pine trenches, Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey

A.J. SHOUT was born in New Zealand on 8 August 1882 to John Richard and Agnes Mary Shout.  He was educated privately and at the age of eighteen went to South Africa with the New Zealand contingent.  He attained the rank of sergeant and later served with the Cape Field Artillery from 1903 to 1907.  He emigrated to Australia and worked as a carpenter and joiner, living in the Sydney suburb of Darlington.  He joined the 29th Infantry Regiment of the militia in 1907 and was commissioned second lieutenant in that unit on 16 June 1914.  He had married Rose Alice before he enlisted in the AIF.  On 27 August 1914 he enlisted and was appointed to the 1st Battalion as second lieutenant and on 18 October embarked with his unit aboard A19 (SS Africa) for Egypt.

 

Shout, promoted to lieutenant on 1 February 1915, distinguished himself both at the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April and during the next ten days.  He was twice wounded in action, on 27 April and 11 May, before he performed the action for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.  For displaying conspicuous courage and ability in organizing and leading his men in the thick, bushy country under withering fire, exposing himself repeatedly to locate the enemy, and leading a bayonet charge on Turkish positions, he was awarded the Military Cross and mentioned in General Sir lan Hamilton's dispatches of 29 June.  On 29 July he was promoted to captain.

 

On 6 August, at 5.40 p.m., at the commencement of the battle of Lone Pine, Shout's battalion attacked the Turkish trenches.  The battalion had to beat off heavy counter-attacks the next day and was briefly withdrawn at 11.30 a.m.  By 3 p.m. the battalion was back in the line repelling fierce attacks.  These were defeated and there was a brief respite until 4.30 a.m. on the 8th.  From then the unit fought continuously until 2 p.m. when it was relieved for a second time by the 7th Battalion.  Early on the 9th the 1st Battalion re-entered Lone Pine and Shout performed the act at Sasse's sap for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

 

As a large portion of Sasse's sap was found to be occupied by the enemy, Captains Shout and Sasse decided to clear it.  They gathered together three men carrying sandbags with which to construct barricades and then both officers charged down the trench, Shout bombing and Sasse shooting.  They advanced in short 'hops', building a barricade at each stop. In the morning in one section of trench Shout killed eight enemy and routed the remainder.  In the afternoon, gathering another party of eight and again accompanied by Sasse, he captured a further section of trench in similar fashion.  They had just determined a suitable position for the final barricade when Shout lit three bombs for the final dash. The third bomb burst in his hand, blowing it completely away and shattering one side of his face and body.  He was evacuated immediately but died of wounds aboard the hospital ship on 11 August.  He was buried at sea.

 

After the war the citizens of Darlington commemorated the name of Alfred Shout on a memorial plaque which is now displayed at Victoria Barracks Museum, Paddington.  His name is also commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial.

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  1. Corporal George Julian HOWELL
  2. Lance Corporal Leonard Maurice KEYSOR
  3. Captain Alfred John SHOUT
  4. Lieutenant Percy Valentine STORKEY
  5. Lieutenant Colonel Charles Groves Wright ANDERSON

Lieutenant Percy Storkey VCSTORKEY Percy Valentine
RANK Lieutenant
UNIT 19th Battalion 5th Brigade, 2nd Division
DATE 7 April 1918
PLACE Hangard Wood, France

PERCY STORKEY was born at Napier, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, on 9 September 1891, son of Samuel James and Sarah Edith Storkey.  He was educated at Napier high school, of which he was dux in 1910, and Victoria College, Wellington, where he studied first-year Arts.  In 1911 he moved to Sydney, worked for a time in the office of a steamship company, then joined the administrative staff of the University of Sydney and enrolled in the law school.

 

He enlisted in the AIF on 10 May 1915 and his five years' previous service with the Wellington Infantry contributed to his being commissioned second lieutenant on 24 September.  He sailed from Australia on 23 December as a reinforcement officer to the 19th Battalion.  On 14 November 1916 he joined his unit in France. On the first day with his battalion he was wounded during an attack on Gird trenches, north of Flers.  On 1 January 1917 he was promoted to lieutenant and on 10 October was again wounded when his battalion was engaged in the third battle of Ypres.

 

Storkey won his Victoria Cross at Hangard Wood, about 2000 metres south of Villers-Bretonneux.  On this occasion two companies from the 19th and 20th Battalions were ordered to push through Hangard Wood and dig in along a road that skirted its western side.  Both companies were very tired and, while waiting for the order to attack, some of the men, including Storkey, dozed off.  He roused himself and to his surprise found that his men were seventy-five metres in front of him; he rejoined them.  About a quarter of them were wounded as they pushed through the wood, including Storkey's company commander.  When he emerged from the wood with six other men Storkey noticed that a large enemy party, about eighty to a hundred strong and armed with several machine-guns, was holding up the advance of troops on the right.  He was joined by another officer and four men and under his leadership this party of twelve charged the enemy position with bayonets fixed.  They drove the much larger enemy force out, killing or wounding thirty, and capturing three officers, fifty men and a machine-gun. Storkey pushed on to the objective, but that night the remnants of the two attacking companies withdrew to their unit areas.

 

The following month Storkey was appointed temporary company commander and temporary captain; on 10 June he was confirmed in this rank.

 

Storkey returned to Australia on 26 November and his AIF appointment ended on 31 January 1919; he was allocated to the reserve of officers on 1 July 1920.  He resumed his studies at Sydney University and passed his final examinations while an associate to Mr justice Wade of the Supreme Court.  He was admitted to the bar on 8 June 1921.  After a period in private practice Storkey was appointed to the New South Wales Department of Justice as crown prosecutor for the south-western circuit, which covered the area bounded by Goulburn, Albury, Deniliquin, Hay, Wyalong and Broken Hill.  On 15 April 1922 he married Molly M. Burnett.  Storkey was an active member of the Returned Services League and was first president of the Vaucluse sub-branch.  Storkey served for one year in the Army Legal Department from October 1938 until June 1939.  In May 1939 he was elevated to the New South Wales District Court Bench and was judge of the northern district until his retirement in December 1955.  He moved to Teddington, Middlesex, UK, after retirement and died there on 3 October 1969.

 

His Victoria Cross was bequeathed to his old school, Napier Boy's High.  And the machine gun captured in the charge which he led is in collection of the Australian War Memorial.  A portrait by Max Melrum hangs in the Archives Building, Wellington, New Zealand.

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  1. Corporal George Julian HOWELL
  2. Lance Corporal Leonard Maurice KEYSOR
  3. Captain Alfred John SHOUT
  4. Lieutenant Percy Valentine STORKEY
  5. Lieutenant Colonel Charles Groves Wright ANDERSON

Lieutenant Colonel Charles Anderson VC MCANDERSON Charles Groves Wright
RANK Lieutenant Colonel
UNIT 2/19th Battalion, 22nd Brigade, 8th Division
DATE 18-22 January 1942
PLACE Muar River, Malaya (now Malaysia)

C.G.W. ANDERSON was born at Cape Town, South Africa, on 12 February 1897.  On 13 October 1916 he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the King's African Rifles and fought with its 3rd Battalion in East Africa against the German-led Askari.  In addition to being awarded the Military Cross he gained valuable jungle warfare experience.

 

Anderson purchased a grazing property near Crowther, New South Wales, in 1934 and moved with his wife to Australia from Africa that year; he had married Edith M. Tout on 21 February 1931.  On 3 March 1939 he joined the CMF and was appointed a captain in the 56th Battalion (Riverina Regiment).  He was promoted to major on 26 October and on 1 July 1940 was seconded to the AIF as second-in-command of the 2/19th Battalion when the unit was formed at Wallgrove, New South Wales, in late July.  After unit training at Wallgrove, Ingleburn and Bathurst, the 2/19th embarked for Malaya in February 1941.  On 1 August 1941 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and appointed to command the 2/19th.

 

Anderson was awarded his Victoria Cross during operations against the Japanese in Malaya in the period 18-22 January 1942.  In mid-January in the Muar area the left flank of Westforce (four brigades) began to crumble when the Japanese Guards Division, which had joined the 5th Division in western Malaya, attacked the inexperienced 45th Indian Brigade.  The Guards crossed the Muar River and pressed on towards Bakri, situated at a junction on the road to Yong Peng.  It encountered the 2/29th Battalion, which had reinforced the 45th Indian Brigade.  Anderson's 2/19th, sent from Eastforce, arrived at Bakri on the morning of 18 January to reinforce the brigade.  It soon became engaged with the Japanese who had come in at the rear of the 2/29th.  At about 10 a.m. on 19 January, the headquarters of the 45th Indian Brigade was bombed, incapacitating Brigadier H.C. Duncan, the brigade commander, who with his brigade major were the only survivors of the headquarters staff.

 

Anderson then took command of the brigade which had one Indian battalion isolated and two other Indian battalions in disorder at Bakri.  They had suffered heavy casualties.  He waited until the afternoon before withdrawing the 2/29th into the Bakri perimeter, by which time 200 men of the isolated battalion had reached Australian lines.  During this period, both the 2/19th and 2/29th were heavily engaged with the Japanese units which moved behind Bakri and held the road to Yong Peng.

 

On the morning of 20 January a fighting withdrawal to Parit Sulong, a vital bridge on the road to Yong Peng, began.  The leading company broke through a Japanese force, but the main force were still hemmed in and vulnerable to air attack.  Another company went into the attack singing 'Waltzing Matilda' with Anderson himself leading the final attack.  He personally put two machine-gun posts out of action with grenades and shot two Japanese with his pistol.

 

Further on they encountered another roadblock and the Japanese, following close behind the Australian Indian column, pressed the rearguard until a counter-attack was launched in which Brigadier Duncan was killed.  Meanwhile Anderson, with the advance guard, organized a three-company attack which put the enemy to flight.  That night Anderson learnt that the Japanese were in Parit Sulong and his force was isolated.  On 21 January Anderson's force encountered the Japanese strongly established around Parit Sulong.  They attacked, but had gained only a few hundred metres by nightfall.  Anderson's force now had many wounded and its artillery and mortar ammunition was almost exhausted.  A battalion of the Loyals was ordered to launch a relieving attack but this was delayed and eventually abandoned on 22 January.  Early that morning Japanese tanks broke into the perimeter of Anderson's force from its rear, but were stopped by gunfire.  The isolated force was bombed from the air and shelled by artillery, as it had been throughout its withdrawal.  At 9 a.m. Anderson ordered that his vehicles and guns be destroyed and the men withdraw eastward in small parties.  Anderson's force had done all that could reasonably have been expected, but their losses were heavy.  The 45th Indian Brigade had been decimated, and the two Australian battalions had suffered heavily.  Of the 2/19th only 271 men reached Yong Peng, of the 2/29th only 130.

 

On 15 February 1942 Anderson was taken into captivity when British forces in Malaya surrendered.  He was released in August 1945 and repatriated to Australia where his AI F appointment was terminated on 21 December 1945.  He was invested with the Victoria Cross by the Governor- General, the Duke of Gloucester, at Sydney on 8 January 1947.

 

He had returned to his property after the war, and in the general election of 1949 Anderson was elected to the House of Representatives as Country Party member for Hume, New South Wales.  He was defeated in 1951, regained the seat in the 1955 elections, retained it in 1958, but was again defeated in December 1961.  From 10 April 1957 until his defeat he served as a member of the joint committee on the Australian Capital Territory.  Anderson lived in Red Hill, Australian Capital Territory.   He died on 11 November, 1988 and was survived his two daughters and twin sons. A portrait by J.B. Godson hangs in the Australian War Memorial's Hall of Valour.

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1st/19th BATTALION THE ROYAL NEW SOUTH WALES REGIMENT ASSOCIATION INC.   P.O. Box 224 INGLE BURN NSW 1890 Tele: 0414 907 427