Case study

WW1 Australian VC recipient Bernard Sydney Gordon

The story of Australian First World War Victoria Cross recipient Bernard Sydney Gordon.

Bernard Sydney Gordon
Credit: Australian War Memorial A05210

66 men from Australia received the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award for gallantry, during the First World War. As part of the Centenary Commemorations the people of the United Kingdom marked their gratitude to those courageous men by presenting a bronze memorial plaque to their home country engraved with their names. The plaque is now displayed at the Australian War Memorial. This archive tells their stories.

Name: Bernard Sidney Gordon

DOB: 16 August 1891

Place of Birth: Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

Date of Action: 26 to 27 August 1918

Place of Action: Fargny Wood, Bray, France

Rank: Lance Corporal

Regiment: 41st Battalion, Australian Imperial Force

Bernard Sydney Gordon was born on 16 August 1891 in Tasmania, Australia and enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in September 1915. He was wounded in battle in 1917, and in early August 1918 he was awarded the Military Medal for his actions at Le Hamel during the Battle of Amiens.

Lance Corporal Gordon was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at Fargny Wood, east of Bray in France on 26 to 27 August. During an Australian attack, he single-handedly captured a machine-gun post before clearing several trenches, taking many prisoners. As his citation explains:

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on the 26 to 27th August, 1918, east of Bray. He led his section through heavy shell fire to the objective, which he consolidated. Single-handed he attacked an enemy machine gun which was enfilading the company on his right, killed the man on the gun, and captured the post, which contained one officer and ten men. He then cleared up a trench, capturing twenty-nine prisoners and two machine guns. In clearing up further trenches he captured twenty-two prisoners, including one officer and three machine guns. Practically unaided, he captured, in the course of these operations, two officers and sixty-one other ranks, together with six machine guns, and displayed throughout a wonderful example of fearless initiative.

After the war, Gordon settled in Queensland, becoming a dairy farmer and having 9 children. He died in 1963, aged 72.

Published 20 June 2016