RESEARCHED BY HARRY WILLEY

DALZIEL  VC.             # 1936 Private Henry 15th Infantry Battalion.
4th Infantry Brigade.   4th Division. AIF

CITATION: 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.
(London Gazette:  17th August 1918.)

Henry Dalziel was born at Ragged Camp a small mining camp near Irvinebank in North Queensland on 18 February 1893.  He was a son of James Dalziel and his wife Eliza Mary (Maggie) Dalziel.  Mary was the daughter of a Ravenshoe settler John Mc Millan and his wife Mary Ann (Secington).

As a young boy Henry and his brother Victor were credited with discovering the tin samples which led to the opening of the Boulder Mine near Emuford. This became one of the largest mines in the area and remained in production until the 1960s.  When the family moved to Atherton, Henry completed his education before gaining an apprenticeship as a fireman with the Queensland Government Railways.   He worked on the scenic route between Milla Milla and Malanda.  While a teenager Henry, a talented athlete and horseman, won the North Queensland High Jump Championship.

Henry was twenty one years and 11 months of age when he enlisted in the AIF at Cairns on 16 January 1915.   He was 5 foot 7 inches tall and weighed 9 stone 10 lb. Henry had a medium complexion blue eyes and black curly hair, his religious denomination was Church of England. Found fit for service by Dr Philip S Clarke, Henry was taken into the army 22 January. He embarked from Brisbane 16 April 1915 onboard the 6,953-ton London registered steamer Kyarra. Kyarra had been requisitioned by the Commonwealth Government for the purpose of transporting the AIF overseas.  As A55. His Majesties Australian Transport.  Kyarra, was manned by an Australian crew and took the 5th reinforcements for the 15th Battalion to Egypt.

Henry joined the 15th Bn at Quinn's Post on Gallipoli l3 July as a Lance Corporal.  In August the 4th   Infantry Brigade led by General John Monash attacked and captured Hill 971 and in doing so suffered a great number of casualties. The Turks, after taking on reinforcements counter attacked and drove the Australians from their hard won position.  A Company of the 15th then supported the 14th Battalion in their unsuccessful attack on Hill 60. Henry Dalziel was transferred from the peninsular on 28 August to a hospital ship suffering from rheumatism. He was taken to Malta where he was admitted to the 40th Field ambulance station. The next day he was placed onboard the “Devenha" for a voyage to England to be admitted to the 3rd London General Hospital at Wandsworth on the 15 September.

When he was released from hospital Henry was assigned to the 4th Training Battalion at Codford where for a period he worked as a butcher.  On several occasions he found himself in a spot  of bother  with  military discipline when bored with the monotony of training he went AWOL. Nobody knows how many times he did this however he was apprehended and charged on numerous occasions, once just 35 minutes after departing the camp.

He proceeded to France on 14 August 1916 and rejoined the 15th Battalion in the field on 4 September. The 15th had just emerged from 10 days of heavy fighting at Pozieres and Mouquet Farm  where  the 4th  Division had suffered 4,600 casualties.  On 9 September Henry was appointed as a driver before his battalion entered the fighting at Flers and then Gueudecourt. Here they fought in deep mud hindered by the cold and rain throughout the winter.  Henry welcomed the respite from the bitter fighting as the Germans began to withdraw from their position on 17 March. He was sent to a Farrier School on I April. Returning to his unit during the battle at Bullecourt, where the 4th Division had 1170 officers and men taken prisoner by the Germans.

With the 4th Div Henry was at Messines Ridge at 3 am on 7 June when General Herbert Plumer exploded 19 of the 21 underground mines that had been positioned in tunnels that had been dug under no man's land to beneath the enemy trenches. The explosion of the 600 ton of explosives, which could be heard in Dublin, killed 10,000 German troops. The Australian 3rd Division's  Infantry attacked  from the right of the British line; they were joined by the 4th Australian Division and a New Zealand Division soon after,  Messines Ridge fell to the ANZAC troops just 93 minutes after General Plumer detonated his mines.

On 31July as the battle of Passchendaele began the heavy rain turned the battle field into a quagmire. Henry was wounded in the arm by shrapnel 3 October and admitted to 11th General Hospital at Dannes-Carniers. Doctors feared that Henry could lose the use of his arm if they attempted to remove the   shrapnel so he was invalided to England 29 October. Here doctors did all they could to prevent an infection and heal the wound but they did not remove the shrapnel from his arm. Upon release from the hospital he was assigned to the overseas training brigade at Londonbridge, Deverill where he remained until he returned to France 29 May 1918 rejoining the 15th Battalion in the field on the 7 June. Now with the doubling of the number of Lewis guns available for each Division, Henry Dalziel was allocated one of the platoons Lewis Guns. The Lewis Gun was light, compared with the conventional Machine Gun, which weighted up to five times as much. It was accurate to 600 yards using a bi-pod was air-cooled and used standard 303 ammunition. Its circular magazine held 47 cartridges that could be fired at the rate of between 500 and 600 rpm and only required a crew of two.

On 4 July the 7,500 men of the 4th Div were joined by a number of Americans anxious to observe and learn from the Australians, these men faced their baptism of fire on their country's Independence Day. The Battle of Hamel commenced at 3.10 am. Although not a large battle, this attack saw the 'introduction of a battle plan designed by the Australian Lieutenant- General John Monash. The 15th Bn were given the task of capturing a position known as Pear Trench. The artillery fire that had been brought down on Pear Trench proved totally ineffective, having failed to damage either the strong wire entanglements, the trench or the garrison enough to reduce the enemy’s resistance against the Australian s attack.

Three British tanks had been allotted to the 15th Bn, however they proved unreliable and it became necessary for the Infantry to push on without their support. Some men managed to get through the wire before the attack virtually came to a halt in the face of heavy enemy fire from Pear Trench. Capt Ernest Kenneth Carter, M.C. directed his Lewis gunners to fire from the hip over the tall crops. This tactic brought the fire from the opposing German machine-gunners to a halt.  The 15th then rushed the enemy trenches only to be held up by another machine-gun on their left. Seeing this, Henry left his  gun in the hands of his mate and single handedly armed only with his two revolvers  rushed the German  machine-gun killing two of its crew and captured the rest.  During this daring feat he received a serious wound  to his hand  and was ordered to the rear. Making off as if to obey, he instead joined in the final charge that captured the enemy position. He was once again ordered back to the regimental aid-post but went instead to retrieve boxes of ammunition that had been parachuted into open ground, made inaccessible due to the enemy's constant machine gun fire.  Disregarding this Henry twice ventured out to retrieve boxes of ammunition before receiving a gunshot wound to the head as he reloaded his Lewis Gun.

The bullets had smashed his skull exposing his brain, this caused both the Australians and Americans who went to his aid to despair at this brave man's apparent death. Henry was taken to the 4th Australian Field Ambulance where it was decided to send him to the 12 General Hospital at Rouen France. The American Forces were now in control of this Hospital which had been in the bands of the British since September 1914.  Four days later, as Henry fought for his life, Lt-Col Terrence Patrick Mc Sharry, Commanding Officer of the 15th Battalion, supported by Brig-Gen Charles Henry Brand, Commander of the 4th Division, recommended him for a Victoria Cross.  Henry Daziel’s Victoria Cross was the 1,000 th Victoria Cross awarded.

After lifesaving treatment in France, Henry was taken to England 19 September on the Hospital Ship Panama and was admitted the next day to the 4 London General Hospital Denmark Hill, London, which catered for both  military and civilian patients. Two months later he was transferred to the 3rd Scottish General Hospital, Stobhill, Glasgow for psychiatric assessment.   On 13  December 1918  Private  Henry  Dalziel was  taken to Buckingham Palace where King  George V invested  him  with his Victoria  Cross.    Discharged from hospital 5 January 1919 he embarked for Australia onboard "Kanowna" and arrived in Melbourne on 7 March.  He was admitted to the 1st Military Hospital.  Henry Dalziel's World War One army service came to an end when he was discharged classified medically unfit in Brisbane 16 June 1919.

On 17 May 1920 Henry was  appointed to a temporary position in the Australian Air Corps in Melbourne  but twenty nine days later he was discharged.  Unable to return to his old job with the railways, Henry returned to Atherton and worked at a small soldiers settlement block he called "Zenith".   On 8 August 1920 he married twenty nine year old Brisbane nurse Ida Maude Ramsay, a  daughter of Richard John  Ramsay and  his wife Rhoda (White).   During the Depression years Henry, like thousands of others, was forced to travel seeking employment.  He and his brother (ex 58085  Pte Victor Dalziel) were trying their luck mining for gold in Bathurst, New South Wales when Ida's serious illness forced Henry’s immediate return to Queensland.

In 1933 Henry joined the Citizen Military Forces and served as a Sergeant in the 9/15th Bn, With them he attended the opening of the Queensland Parliament as a member of the King's Colour escort, being the first VC to do so.

While living with Mr Napier 37 Railway Terrace Milton, Brisbane on 22nd January 1935 Henry who was a regular participant at the Brisbane ANZAC Day marches, wrote to the officer in charge of Base records seeking a detailed account of his service. He stated that he was thinking of writing a book on his experience of the war and all its glories.  Later that year Henry entered into a de facto relationship with Elsie Kanowski, this lifelong commitment was blessed with the birth of three children, two sons and a daughter - David born 1942, Ann born 1944 and Frank born 1946.

Henry travelled to Sydney in April 1938 to march with a group of Boer War and World War 1 Victoria Cross recipients who had assembled from all over Australia, for the ANZAC Day March.

A prolific writer of songs and poetry, Henry also exhibited his paintings and pottery at the Brisbane Show. Many of his songs were copyrighted and published his favourite was 'A Song of the Tableland'.   Where he described the area where he grew up was released in both the UK and USA.

Like many that had been awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War, Henry a War Pensioner volunteered for service in the Second World War naming his wife Ida Maude Dalziel who was still living at "Zenith” as his next of kin.  Aged 47 years and 4 months he was taken into the army 14 June 1940 with the 11th Training Battalion.  Made  Sergeant, he assisted in training new recruits, a regular speaker at recruiting drives and comfort fund appeals, Henry injured his  left leg in January 1943 and was admitted to hospital for treatment.  In December he was offered a commission but chose to apply for a discharge on Christmas Eve 1943 to be with Elsie while she awaited the birth of their daughter.

On 13 April 1946, while living at Ardoyne Road Oxley, Henry reported that he had lost his discharge papers from the Second AIF and requested a duplicate.  In 1952 he was saddened by the death of his 86 year old mother.

In 1956, Henry sailed to London on SS Arcadia with 34 other Australian VC s. They disembarked 19 June 1956 at Tilbury Docks to attend the Victoria Cross Centenary Celebrations in London.  Before be returned home Henry re-visited Hamel and placed a wreath on the Cenotaph on 4 July, his was 38 years to the day from when he had won his Victoria Cross there. He found it impossible to identify the exact sight of the battle in an area that was now a plush agricultural area.  Back in Brisbane in September Henry, a member of the Sherwood Sub-Branch of the RSL officially opened the YMCA Camp Warrawee at Joyner on the North Pine River.

Henry was still living at Oxley with his family when he suffered a stroke.  He was taken to Greenslopes Repatriation Hospital, Brisbane where he died on the 24th July 1965 aged 72 years. Three days later he was given full military honours at his funeral which was conducted by the Dean of Brisbane (Dean Baddeley).  Following the service at St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane the funeral procession, led by military motor cyclists and accompanied by a detachment of officers and men, passed the Shrine of Remembrance and the Brisbane Town Hall where the flags flew at half mast before proceeding to Mt Thompson crematorium.  A firing party and bugler then participated in the service. A memorial plaque can be found there on Wall 12. Section 16. No 106. at the Mt Thompson crematorium.

In March 1967 the Australian Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Harold Holt announced that all living ANZACs would receive the Australian ANZAC Medallion and a lapel badge. The Medallion, which was cast in bronze and depicted Simpson and his donkey carrying a wounded soldier, was to be issued to descendants of deceased ANZACs. Elsie was issued with Henry's Medallion.

The Officer’s club at the Enoggera (Brisbane) Army Barracks named "The Henry Dalziel VC Club”.  The Army Barracks at Enoggera and Singleton in New South Wales both have roads named after Henry, as does the Brisbane suburb of Nundah. On the Atherton Tablelands,  the Atherton R S L Club bas a display of photographs of Henry and duplicates of his medals in the 'The Harry Dalziel VC Memorial Bar'.  This bar was opened by Keith Payne VC.  In a nearby park a mounted First World War Artillery piece stands as a Memorial to Pte Henry Dalziel VC.

His medals, greatly sought after by American collectors due to his VC being awarded for his actions on their Independence Day, are in the family's bank vault. They are:

         The Victoria Cross.,
         1914/15 Star 
         British War Medal,
         Victory Medal, 
         Australian War Medal 1939/45, 
         Australian Service Medal, 
         King George V1 Coronation Medal,
         Queen Elizabeth 11 Coronation Medal

On 28  August 2003 The Hon Danna Vale MP, Minister for Veteran's Affairs, opened the Henry Dalziel VC Dialysis Centre in Greenslopes Private Hospital, Brisbane.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

My thanks to Ann Salisbury, (Henry's  daughter) Lisa Mc Mahon, (Henry's  Granddaughter).
And Mr Tony Derksen, the Director of the Loudoun House Museum, Irvinebank, for their assistance while researching and writing of this story.

Harry Willey.  2002            

Revised September 2003

Return to Harry Dalziel main page