Case study

WW1 Australian VC recipient George Cartwright

The story of Australian First World War Victoria Cross recipient George Cartwright.

George Cartwright
Credit: Australian War Memorial P01383.10

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: George Cartwright

DOB: 9 December 1894

Place of Birth: London, England

Date of Action: 31 August 1918

Place of Action: near Péronne, France

Rank: Private

Regiment: 33rd Battalion, Australian Imperial Force

View a film about his story

George Cartwright was born on 9 December 1894 in London, England, but emigrated to Australia, working as a labourer before enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force in December 1915. He was wounded in the Battle of Messines, Belgium in 1917, and suffered a severe gas attack in 1918 in France. Private Cartwright was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 31 August near Péronne during the Battle of Mont St-Quentin when alone under intense fire he attacked a machine gun holding up two companies. His citation explains:

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on the morning of 31 August, South West of Bouchavesnes, near Peronne. When two companies were held up by machine-gun fire from the south-western edge of the wood, without hesitation Pte. Cartwright moved against the gun in a most deliberate manner under intense fire. He shot three of the team, and, having bombed the post, captured the gun and nine enemy. This gallant deed had a most inspiring effect on the whole line, which immediately rushed forward.Throughout the operation Pte. Cartwright displayed wonderful dash, grim determination, and courage of the highest order.

After the war, Cartwright returned to Australia and worked as a mechanic in Sydney. He died in 1978, aged 83.

Published 20 June 2016