Case study

WW1 Australian VC recipient Blair Anderson Wark

The story of Australian First World War Victoria Cross recipient Blair Anderson Wark.

Blair Anderson Wark
Credit: Australian War Memorial P05879.001

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: Blair Anderson Wark

DOB: 27 July 1894

Place of Birth: Bathurst, NSW, Australia

Date of Action: 29 September to 1 October 1918

Place of Action: Hindenburg Line, between Bellicourt and Joncourt

Rank: Major

Regiment: 32nd Battalion, Australian Imperial Force

Blair Anderson Wark was born in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia, on 27 July 1894. He worked as a quantity surveyor, and was serving in the militia (now the Australian Army Reserve), when he enlisted in 1915 as an officer in the Australian Imperial Force. In 1916, he was wounded in the Battle of Fromelles, where Australia suffered heavy casualties, and in 1917 Wark was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his actions at the Battle of Polygon Wood.

Major Wark was awarded the Victoria Cross for most conspicuous bravery, initiative and control over 3 days between 29 September to 1 October 1918 on the Hindenburg Line between Bellicourt and Joncourt. As his citation explains:

On 29th Sept. after personal reconnaissance under heavy fire, he led his command forward at a critical period and restored the situation. Moving fearlessly at the head of, and at times far in advance of, his troops, he cheered his men on through Nauroy, thence towards Etricourt. Still leading his assaulting companies, he observed a battery of 77mm. guns firing on his rear companies and causing heavy casualties. Collecting a few of his men, he rushed the battery, capturing four guns and ten of the crew. Then moving rapidly forward with only two N.C.O.s, he surprised and captured fifty Germans near Magny La Fosse. On 1st Oct., 1918, he again showed fearless leading and gallantry in attack, and without hesitation and regardless of personal risk dashed forward and silenced machine guns which were causing heavy casualties. On 1st Oct., 1918, he again showed fearless leading and gallantry in attack, and without hesitation and regardless of personal risk dashed forward and silenced machine guns which were causing heavy casualties. Throughout he displayed the greatest courage, skilful leading and devotion to duty, and his work was invaluable.

After the war, Wark was involved in business and public affairs in Sydney, and in the Second World War he was in charge of a militia battalion before he died suddenly in 1941.

Published 20 June 2016