Military History

The Highest Honour #18 | Bernard Gordon | Jim Gordon

By The Cove May 16, 2021


Lance Corporal Bernard Sidney Gordon VC, MM (1891 - 1963, 72yo)

Bernard Gordon was born on 16 August 1891 in Launceston, Tasmania. At the completion of schooling in Deloraine and Devonport he worked as a cooper's machinist at Beaconsfield and later moved to Townsville, Queensland. Gordon enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force on 27 September 1915 and joined the 41st Battalion.

Gordon departed for overseas in May 1916 and remained within his battalion throughout the war, serving in France and Belgium. In June 1918 he was promoted to Lance Corporal.

In July 1918 the 41st Battalion, as part of the 11th Infantry Brigade, was involved in an attack on Hamel, and Gordon was awarded the Military Medal for gallant conduct. He was later awarded the Victoria Cross, for 'most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on 26th-27th August, 1918, east of Bray'. In this action, the citation stated, Gordon displayed 'a wonderful example of fearless initiative'. He led his section through heavy shell-fire to its objective, which he consolidated. 'Single-handed he attacked an enemy machine-gun which was enfilading the company on his right, killed the man on the gun and captured the post, which contained one officer and ten men. He then cleaned up a trench, capturing twenty-nine prisoners and two machine-guns … Practically unaided, he captured, in the course of these operations, two officers and sixty-one other ranks, together with six machine-guns'.

Gordon was wounded on 01 September 1918 during the advance to the battle of Mont St Quentin, returned to Australia in January 1919 and was discharged the following April. In 1956 he attended the Victoria Cross centenary celebrations in London, and in 1960 the Gordon Soldiers' Club was opened in Cabarlah, QLD. Gordon died on 19 October 1963 in Torquay, Queensland.

Corporal James Heather (Jim) Gordon VC (1907 - 1986, 77yo)

Jim Gordon was born on 07 March 1907 in Rockingham, Western Australia. At the completion of schooling he worked as a drover, rouseabout and farmer. Prior to the breakout of World War Two he was working as battery worker on the goldfields. Gordon enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force on 26 April 1940.

In September 1940 he embarked for the Middle East and in February 1941 joined the 2/31st Battalion. In June and July the unit was engaged in the Syrian campaign against the Vichy French. On the night of 9-10 July 1941, Gordon’s depleted company was ordered to seize the high ground overlooking the villages of Amatour and Badarane, north of Jezzine. An enemy machine-gun post held up the advance. On his own initiative, Gordon crept forward through a hail of bullets and grenades until he was near the post. He leapt to his feet and charged it from the front, killing its four crew members with his bayonet. His action demoralised the enemy in the area and inspired his comrades to continue the attack. He was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Having recovered from a bout of malaria, he reached Papua in November 1942, by which time the 2/31st was fighting the Japanese around Gona. In January 1943 he returned to Australia and was made acting Sergeant. He was confirmed in the rank enroute to Port Moresby in July 1943. During the advance towards Lae, New Guinea in September, he led a charge against a machine-gun nest. It is likely that he was considered for a further decoration, perhaps another VC, but no award was forthcoming. 'Just as well, too’, he later said. `Imagine what my cobbers would have called me then’. After taking part in the subsequent operations in the Markham and Ramu valleys, he came home to Australia in January 1944.

He joined the Australian Regular Army on 02 December 1947. Employed as an instructor of cadets in Western Australia he was promoted to temporary Warrant Officer Class Two in October 1949. He retired from the Army on 01 August 1968, then worked as a groundsman at Campbell Barracks, Swanbourne until 1975.  A very quite and shy man, he often hid his VC medal in his pocket after ceremonial activities. He died on 19 July 1986 and was cremated with full military honours.


Portrait

Biography

The Cove

The home of the Australian Profession of Arms.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.



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