Case study

WW1 Australian VC recipient Henry Dalziel

The story of Australian First World War Victoria Cross recipient Henry Dalziel.

Henry Dalziel
Credit: Australian War Memorial A05444

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: Henry Dalziel

DOB: 18 February 1893

Place of Birth: Irvinebank, Queensland, Australia

Date of Action: 4 July 1918

Place of Action: Hamel Wood, France

Rank: Private

Regiment: 15th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force

Henry Dalziel was born on 18 February 1893, in Queensland, Australia. He was working as a fireman when he enlisted in 1915.

He was awarded the Victoria Cross whilst fighting with the 15th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force on the Western Front. On 4 July 1918, at Hamel Wood in France, Private Dalziel made a single-handed attack, with only a revolver, on an enemy machine gun post. His citation reads:

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty when in action with a lewis gun section. His company met with determined resistance from a strong point which was strongly garrisoned, manned by numerous machine-guns and, undamaged by our artillery fire, was also protected by strong wire entanglements. A heavy concentration of machine-gun fire caused many casualties, and held up our advance. His Lewis gun having come into action and silenced enemy guns in one direction, an enemy gun opened fire from another direction. Private Dalziel dashed at it and with his revolver, killed or captured the entire crew and gun, and allowed our advance to continue. He was severely wounded in the hand, but carried on and took part in the capture of the final objective. He twice went over open ground under heavy enemy artillery and machine-gun fire to secure ammunition, and though suffering from considerable loss of blood, he filled magazines and served his gun until severely wounded through the head. His magnificent bravery and devotion to duty was an inspiring example to all his comrades and his dash and unselfish courage at a critical time undoubtedly saved many lives and turned what would have been a serious check into a splendid success.

After the war, Dalziel served in the Australian Army Reserve, and was a songwriter. He died in 1965.

Published 20 June 2016