Case study

WW1 Australian VC recipient Clifford William King Sadlier

The story of Australian First World War Victoria Cross recipient Clifford William King Sadlier.

Clifford William King Sadlier

Credit: Australian War Memorial D00022

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: Clifford William King Sadlier

DOB: 11 June 1892

Place of Birth: Melbourne, Australia

Date of Action: 24 to 25 April 1918

Place of Action: Villers-Bretonneux, France

Rank: Lieutenant

Regiment: 51st Battalion, Australian Imperial Force

Clifford Sadlier was born in Melbourne, Australia, on 11 June 1892. He was working as a commercial traveller when he enlisted as a private in May 1915, and saw service in Egypt with the medical corps, and then later on the Western Front. He was commissioned in 1917, and was promoted to lieutenant in April 1918.

Lieutenant Sadlier was with the 51st Battalion when he was awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery on 24 to 25 April 1918 during the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux in France. His citation explains:

Lt. Sadlier’s platoon had to advance through a wood where a strong enemy machine-gun post caused casualties and prevented the platoon from advancing. Although himself wounded, he at once collected his bombing section and succeeded in killing the crews and capturing two of the guns. By this time Lt. Sadlier’s party were all casualties, and he alone attacked a third enemy machine gun with his revolver ,killing the crew of four and taking the gun. In doing so, he was again wounded. The very gallant conduct of this officer was the means of clearing the flank, and allowing the battalion to move forward ,thereby saving a most critical situation. His coolness and utter disregard of danger inspired all.

Sadlier was later invalided back to Australia and settled in Brusselton, Western Australia. For some years he was State Secretary of the Returned and Services League. He died in 1964.

Published 20 June 2016