5th Reinforcements: Medals & Awards

22nd-battalionGreat acts of courage and bravery were demonstrated by many of the men of the Australian Imperial Force during WW1. In this section we recognise the eighteen men of the 5th/22nd that received gallantry awards during the Great War – two of them on multiple occasions – in chronological order, 100 years on to the day that they occurred. Click on the medal award link to read the full citation from the Australian War Memorial website.

mm-military-medal-geov-lge2346 Sgt PT McCORMACK

25th February 1917 – Warlencourt

26 year-old boilermaker from North Richmond Patrick McCormack of C Company was awarded the Military Medal during a raid on the enemy trenches at Warlencourt at the time of the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line with the citation as follows: ‘For distinguished gallantry in command of his platoon under heavy Machine Gun fire at Dinkum Spur, near Warlencourt. He led his men forward with great coolness and skill right up to the enemy’s wire and eventually withdrew them in good order on receipt of instructions.’ Sgt McCormack had previously been wounded in action at Pozieres and would be wounded a for a second time during the attack on Bullecourt on 3rd May 1917 which would result in the amputation of his right leg above the knee on account of the wounding and subsequent onset of sepsis. Sgt McCormack returned to Australia on the HS Karoola in November 1917 and would be discharged from the AIF on 15th Febraury 1918.

2mm-military-medal-geov-lge493 Pte RE BATTON

5th August 1916 – Pozieres

23 year-old driver from Ararat Robert Batton of A Company was awarded the Military Medal as the 22nd Battalion attacked the German OG1 and OG2 second line of defence on the Somme at Pozieres, with the citation reading as follows: ‘During heavy bomb fighting on the morning of 5th August at Pozieres these men did excellent service as bomb carriers to the captured trenches. Their work involved long exposure to very heavy shell fire which they faced repeatedly with great coolness.’ Pte Batton rose through the ranks to become Sergeant by the end of the war and became one of the most decorated men in Roberts, 2364.pngthe Battalion receiving the Military Medal with Bar and the Distinguished Conduct Medal in 1918 at Ville-sur-Ancre and Mont St.Quentin respectively. He was also wounded on two occasions at Bois Grenier in June 1916 and near Warlencourt in February 1917. Sgt Batton returned to Australia in April 1919 for discharge three months later. Photograph of Sgt Batton seated bottom left, courtesy of Jennie Marshall and Lieut. LW Harricks collection (see Family Stories).

mm-military-medal-geov-lge2403 Pte WJ SALTER           

29th July 1916 – Bois GrenierPozieres

26 year-old student William Salter from Kerang was a Battalion stretcher-bearer since the arrival of the Battalion in France. Pte Salter was awarded the Military Medal with fellow stretcher-bearers as follows: ‘For consistent gallant conduct and devotion to duty as Stretcher-Bearers Salter, William John 2403.JPGduring the operations at Fleurbaix, Armentieres and on the Somme. They have answered the call without hesitation and regardless of heavy fire, setting a fine example of devotion to duty and self sacrifice for the sake of their wounded comrades.’ As part of D Company and during the fighting on 28th/29th July at Pozieres Pte Salter was wounded in action, being shot in the left humerus and radius, an injury that would see him invalided back to Australia on the ‘Karoola’ in October 1916. Discharged in 1917, William Salter would re-enlist in 1943 for the Second World War, this time as a chaplain, and after the war he was a Reverand.

mm-military-medal-geov-lge2482 Pte HG FARRINGTON

29th July 1916 – Bois GrenierPozieres

26 year-old labourer Harry Farrington from North Williamstown was a Battalion stretcher-bearer since the arrival of the Battalion in France. Pte Farrington was awarded the Military Medal with fellow stretcher-bearers as follows: ‘For consistent gallant conduct and devotion to duty as Stretcher-Bearers during the operations at Fleurbaix, Armentieres and on the Somme. They have answered the call without hesitation and regardless of heavy fire, setting a fine example of devotion to duty and self sacrifice for the sake of their wounded comrades.’ Despite being wounded in action twice – at Bullecourt on 3rd May 1917 and gassed on the Somme in July 1918 – Pte Farrington survived the war returning to Australia in May 1919.

mm-military-medal-geov-lge2483 Pte H WEST

29th July 1916 – Bois GrenierPozieres

24 year-old carpenter Harry West from Kerang was a Battalion stretcher-bearer since the arrival of the Battalion in France. Pte West was awarded the Military Medal with fellow stretcher-bearers as follows: ‘For consistent gallant conduct and devotion to duty as Stretcher-Bearers during the operations at Fleurbaix, Armentieres and on the Somme. They have answered the call without hesitation and regardless of heavy fire, setting a fine example of devotion to duty and self sacrifice for the sake of their wounded comrades.’ As part of D Company and during the fighting on 28th/29th July at Pozieres Pte West was wounded in action, being shot in the leg. Pte West would survive the war and in 1919 he married his wartime sweetheart in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, before returning to Australia with his wife Martha in 1920.

2368 Pte JL SIMKIN

29th July 1916 – Bois GrenierPozieres

26 year-old driver James Simkin from Kew was a Battalion runner since the arrival of the Battalion in France. Pte Simkin was Mentioned in Despatches as follows: ‘In the trenches in the North during the frequent bombardments when all lines were cut, and at Pozieres, by his consistent devotion to duty, he made it possible for communication between Battalion Headquarters and the front line to be maintained.’ Pte Simkin would be wounded in action during the Battalion’s attack on the German Second Line (OG1 & OG2) on the 4th August 1916 and sadly die from his wounds 11 days later at the 3rd Casualty Clearing Station, Puchevillers.

mm-military-medal-geov-lge2488 L-Cpl GE ROBBINS

29th June 1916 – Bois Grenier

20 year-old ironmoulder Garnet Robbins from Mooroopna volunteered to take part in the 6th Brigade raid on the night of 29th/30th June 1916. These raids up and down the British front were designed to act as a diversion to the main Somme offensive that was to take place on 1st July. The 252 strong 6th Brigade raid, under the command of the 22nd Battalion’s Capt ARL Wiltshire was the largest of all the raids conducted by the AIF and resulted in about 100 German casualties and five prisoners brought back for identification, but with 32 casualties for the 6th Brigade including eight killed and three missing. L-Cpl Robbins received the Military Medal for ‘gallantry cutting the enemy wire while under fire and for helping to bring back the wounded as a stretcher-bearer under a barrage of shrapnel fire.’ Pte Robbins would sadly be killed in action a month later, between 27th July – 4th August 1916 at Pozieres.

 

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