Military History

The Highest Honour #20 | Stan Gurney | Arthur Hall

By The Cove May 31, 2021


Private Arthur Stanley Gurney VC (1908 - 1942, 33yo)

Arthur Stanley Gurney was born on 15 December 1908 at Day Dawn, Western Australia. At the completion of his education he worked with a real estate agent, as a clerk and a meter-fixer. He enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force on 06 December 1940 and in September 1941 joined the 2nd/48 Battalion at Tobruk followed by Palestine and then Syria in 1942.

On 22 July 1942, the battalion was ordered to capture Tel el Eisa Ridge (El Alamein) and at 0600h crossed the start-line where they came under intense fire and began to take heavy casualties. Using a captured post as a fire-support position, 17 Platoon pushed on. Gurney carried a cumbersome Boyes anti-tank rifle. His Platoon Commander, Lieutenant Jim Wearing-Smith, recalled: 'Stan came up to me and I said, 'For Christ sake drop that bloody Boyes, you'll do better with a rifle!' Within the next few moments a fellow soldier was critically wounded and the Platoon Sergeant was killed. Carrying a rifle and bayonet, Gurney rushed over open ground through a hail of fire, bayoneted three Germans and captured their machine-gun post. He then charged a second emplacement, bayoneted two of the enemy and sent back one prisoner. While preparing to attack a third post, he was blown off his feet by a grenade burst. Undeterred, he stormed the position. His comrades saw him 'using the bayonet with great vigour' before he disappeared from view and was killed.

Gurney's body was found and buried in El Alamein war cemetery; he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

Lieutenant Arthur Charles Hall VC (1896 - 1978, 81yo)

Arthur Charles Hall was born on 11 August 1896 at Granville, NSW. At the completion of his schooling, he was a grazier on his father's property in Glenelg near Nyngan. He enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force on 03 April1916 and was posted to the 6th Reinforcements for the 54th Battalion.

After further training in Britain, he joined his battalion on 08 February 1917 at Montauban, France where he received a severe leg injury. He returned to his unit the following month and fought in the second battle of Bullecourt in May and at Polygon Wood in September.  Hall was promoted to Lance Corporal in June and Corporal in October. In 1918 the battalion returned to the Somme to fight at Villers-Bretonneux in April. Morlancourt in July and in the general offensive from August.

On 01 September 1918, while the 54th Battalion was engaged in an attack on Péronne, a machine-gun post was checking the advance. Single-handed, Hall 'rushed the position, shot four of the occupants and captured nine others and two machine-guns. Then crossing the objective with a small party, he afforded excellent covering support for the remainder of the company.' He was continually in advance of the main party, located many points of resistance and personally led parties to attack them. Next day, while his unit mopped up at Péronne, Hall rescued a wounded mate under shell-fire. For his actions on 01 and 02 September 1918 he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

After demobilisation he returned to the Ngygan district and in 1942 served as a Lieutenant in the 7th Garrison Battalion. Survived by his wife, a daughter and three sons he died at Nyngan District Hospital on 25 February 1978. He left his Victoria Cross to the Australian War Memorial.


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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