ROAD TO WAR -
|V.C. is Won…at Gallipoli
|A thousand miles away from the trenches of the Western
Front, Gallipoli was the battleground in the Mediterranean. Huge
forces numbering tens of thousands from the British Empire fought
and died here in the heat and ferocious battles to the death.
Armies from Australia and New Zealand…ANZACS…fought
the Turks in ferocious encounters in the stifling heat of the Peninsula.
But a young man would emerge from this battleground, Albert Jacka
a 22 years old Lance Corporal in the 14th Battalion Australian Imperial
Force, would become a Hero of his country very soon.
Albert Jacka was an ex-lumberjack, hunter, and an excellent shot,
which would give him some great advantages in this battle to come.
His men fought valiantly, but it did not halt the ferocious attacks
by the Turks on 19th May 1915, he and his men were all pinned down
in the frontline trench, they had fought bravely to control the
position but time was running out, the Turk’s main attack
came fast killing and seriously wounding all those with him, suddenly
he found he was alone.
Unafraid by the advancing Turks he continued to hold when suddenly
seven Turks jumped in the trench, he couldn’t fight them so
crawled away unseen, he tried several times to retake the trench
but failed. He was outnumbered by 7-1, in his last desperate attempt
he jumped in the trench and immediately shot five Turks with his
rifle, the other two he killed with his bayonet. His Bravery had
regained the lost trench.
By his own Courageous action he
had become a Hero, his Bravery would be rewarded with the Greatest
Honour of receiving, The Victoria Cross...“For Valour”.
He received his award with Great Pride.
He would become a Hero, a legend, and a sensation in Australia.
One Melbourne businessman gave him £500 and a gold watch
for his Brave actions.
Captain Albert Jacka V.C. (RIGHT)
|The hope of the Generals to finish this war by Christmas
1914, was by all accounts very naïve, the war slowly dragged
on into 1915, the horrendous losses were mounting daily, there would
be no opportunity whatsoever for any of these Great Powers to reach
any settlement of peace, as the purpose of this war was indeed to
gain world domination…That alone would without doubt take
many years, if not longer to achieve.
It would eventually have to be accepted that it was going to be
a slow, desperate and horrific slog through the mud, the blood,
and the misery to have any hope of gaining an all out victory against
Out of the millions that were now signing up “Heroes of the
Victoria Cross” would be found among these raw recruits. They,
in peacetime were ordinary men and boys but once on the battlefields
they were faced with situations beyond our belief, and would demonstrate
their own Courageous acts of Heroism and Bravery.
On 18th May 1915, young 21 year old, Lieutenant Jackie Smythe accompanied
by his loyal men of the 16th Ludhiana Sikhs of the Indian Army,
would face the German infantry and their dreaded machine-gunners
on a battlefield in France at Richebourg L’Avoue.
Drawing of V.C. Hero Jackie Smythe
Under a ferocious German attack
many of Smythe’s men had been killed and seriously wounded,
the remaining men continued to hold off the advancing enemy until
their ammunition and grenades were nearly out. Other companies
nearby couldn’t reach Smythe’s position it was impossible
due to the incessant machine-gun fire. They were completely cut
- off and totally on their own.
Smythe asked for volunteers to accompany him to get some grenades
and bullets, every one of his loyal men accepted but he only took
a few, they went up and over the trench across open ground, in
the process most of his company was killed, they used the bodies
of the fallen to shield them from the hurricane of enemy machine-gun
Only the lieutenant and one Indian soldier were
left unscathed, they both scrambled to find the ammunition supply,
having achieved this made their way back to their front line with
two boxes of grenades and bullets, still under horrendous enemy
As they neared their front line trench his Indian accomplice was
killed, Smythe fell into his own trench unhurt, but he had got
the ammunition. He and the remaining Sikhs continued the battle
and held off the Germans until reinforcements arrived, they won
the day by sheer bloody Bravery.
For his Courageous action he was awarded “For Valour”…the
The ten remaining Sikhs received the Highest Honour …”The
Indian Order of Merit”, for their Heroic actions that day.