Collie-Cardiff RSL explores Australia's military history

Medals of gallantry: Victoria Cross (top left), Distinguished Service Order (bottom left), Distinguished Flying Medal (centre), Military Cross (top right), Distinguished Conduct Medal (bottom right). Photos: Supplied.
Medals of gallantry: Victoria Cross (top left), Distinguished Service Order (bottom left), Distinguished Flying Medal (centre), Military Cross (top right), Distinguished Conduct Medal (bottom right). Photos: Supplied.

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Ordinary men in extraordinary times - Part 1

by Grahame Old

From the Boer War to the Vietnam War, awards for gallantry and distinguished service were made to Australian servicemen under the British Imperial Awards System.

In 1991 the Imperial System was replaced by an Australian System of awards.

The exception was the highest award for bravery, the Victoria Cross, which remained.

This award was renamed the Victoria Cross for Australia. The key differences between the Australian awards and those of the Imperial System are that the awards are applied to all services, and that the level of the award is not restricted by rank but is determined by the quality of the action or service.

'Collie Boys' have always displayed gallant conduct through all wars and many have been recognised for their actions.

The following is a list of these awards and the names of 'Collie Boys' who were recipients of the awards.

Victoria Cross: The highest military decoration awarded for valour in the face of the enemy. It takes precedence over all other orders, decorations and medals.

It may be awarded to a person of any rank in any service and to civilians under military command.

The VC was usually presented to the recipient or to their next of kin by the British monarch at an investiture held at Buckingham Palace.

During WW1 there were a total of 64 awards of the VC made to Australian servicemen. In WW1 there was one VC awarded to a serviceman from Collie:

  • 3970 Cpl 16th Bn Martin O'MEARA VC.

Distinguished Conduct Medal: The DCM is an extremely high level award for bravery. It is second only to the Victoria Cross.

This military decoration was awarded to non-commissioned personnel in recognition of gallantry.

The equivalent award for commissioned officers was the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). For WW1 there were five DCM awards to servicemen from Collie:

  • 610 CSM 28th Bn Albert William CLARK DCM;
  • 79 Cpl 7th Light Trench Mortar Battery Joseph HALL DCM;
  • 4063 Cpl 28th Bn Gordon Lindsay VERNON DCM;
  • 4939 Pte 16th Bn Stanley William WAYWOOD DCM;
  • 718 Sgt 28th Bn then 2nd Machine Gun Bn Thomas WILSON DCM.

In WW2 there was one DCM awarded to a serviceman from Collie:

  • WX 7852 2/4th Machine Gun Bn Henry (Harry) Charles FUHRMANN DCM (POW).

Distinguished Service Order: The DSO is an extremely high level award for bravery, second only to the VC. It was awarded to commissioned officers in recognition of gallantry.

It was usually awarded for service under fire or under conditions equivalent to service in actual combat with the enemy. For WW1 there was one DSO awarded to an officer from Collie:

  • Major 16th Bn Eliazar Lazar MARGOLIN DSO.

Military Cross: The MC was a military decoration awarded for bravery in battle on land to commissioned officers of the rank of Captain or below.

The MC was a third-level military decoration. For WW1 there were three MC awards to servicemen from Collie:

  • Lt 3rd Tunnelling Coy Oscar Roy HOWIE MC;
  • 565 Pte then Sgt then Lt 11th Bn George Arthur LAMERTON MC;
  • 448 CSM C Coy then 2nd Lt 44th Bn Charles Daniel Wimbledon LINTOTT MC.

Two of the award recipients enlisted as privates and were promoted through the ranks to become commissioned officers, in the field.

Distinguished Flying Medal: The DFM was a third-level military decoration awarded to Air Force personnel below commissioned rank, for an "act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy".

In WW2 there was one DFM awarded to a RAAF serviceman from Collie:

  • 415079 Sgt then Pilot Officer Herbert Leonard FUHRMANN DFM (Sgt at time of award).

Check out Part Two next week.