Military History

The Highest Honour #31 | Dominic McCarthy | Stanley McDougall

By The Cove October 7, 2021


Lieutenant Lawrence Dominic 'Fats' McCarthy VC (1892 - 1975, 83yo)

Dominic McCarthy was born 21 January 1892 at York, Western Australia. His parents died when he was very young and was raised at the Clontarf Orphanage. At the completion of education he worked as a contractor until joining the Australian Imperial Force on 16 October 1914.

Joining the 16th Battalion as a Private he landed at Gallipoli on 26 April 1915. During his time on the Gallipoli Peninsula, his rise through the ranks was swift having been promoted to Lance Corporal on 13 May, Corporal on 19 July and Sergeant on 01 September before the battalion departed Gallipoli on 20 December 1915.

The 16th Battalion reached France in June 1916 and took part in heavy fighting around Pozières and Mouquet Farm in August 1916. On 08 March 1917, McCarthy was appointed Company Sergeant Major and on 10 April 1917 was commissioned to Second Lieutenant. The very next day he was wounded at Bullecourt and evacuated to England, rejoining his unit on 09 July 1917. A Lieutenant from 01 November, he received the French Croix de Guerre at Beaumetz two days later. From 31 January 1918 he was posted to the 13th Training Battalion, Tidworth, England, returning to the 16th Battalion in time for the offensive of 08 August 1918.

Near Madam Wood, east of Vermandovillers, France, on 23 August 1918, McCarthy performed what the official war historian rated as, "perhaps the most effective feat of individual fighting in the history of the A.I.F., next to Albert Jacka's at Pozières". The 16th Battalion, with McCarthy commanding 'D' Company, had attained its objectives, but the battalion on the left was unable to make headway. Accompanied by Sergeant F. J. Robbins, D.C.M., M.M., McCarthy attacked the German machine-gun posts which were preventing its advance. They raced into the enemy trench system, shooting and bombing as they went, destroying three machine-gun positions. When his mate fell wounded, McCarthy pressed on, picking up German bombs as he continued to fight down the trench 'inflicting heavy casualties'. Coming upon another enemy pocket, he shot two officers and bombed the post until a blood-stained handkerchief signalled the surrender of the forty occupants. This feat of bravery, which resulted in the award of the Victoria Cross, had an extraordinary conclusion. As the battalion historian records, 'the prisoners closed in on him from all sides … and patted him on the back!' In twenty minutes he had killed twenty Germans, taken fifty prisoners and seized 500 yards of the German front.

McCarthy was evacuated to England on 21 November 1918 and then returned home to Australian in December 1919. On 06 August 1920 he discharged. He attended the V.C. centenary celebrations in London in 1956 and was present at the opening of V.C. Corner at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, in 1964. McCarthy died at Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital, Melbourne, on 25 May 1975 and was cremated with full military honours.

Sergeant Stanley Robert McDougall VC, MM (1889 - 1968, 79yo)

Stanley McDougall was born on 23 July 1889 at Recherche, Tasmania. At the completion of his education he worked as a blacksmith. He joined the Australian Imperial Force on 31 August 1915 and was posted to the 12th Reinforcements for the 15th Battalion.

On 03 March 1916, he was moved to the 47th Battalion and departed for France in June. The Battalion fought at Pozières Heights in August and in the battles of Messines and Broodseinde in 1917. Appointed as Lance Corporal on 05 May 1917, McDougall was promoted to Corporal in September; he became temporary Sergeant in November and was confirmed in that rank in January 1918.

McDougall was awarded the V.C. for his actions at Dernancourt on 28 March 1918. He was on watch at a post on the 47th's right flank when he heard Germans approaching. When a Lewis-gun team was knocked out by an enemy bomb, McDougall snatched up the gun, attacked two machine-gun teams and killed their crews. He turned one of the captured machine-guns on the enemy, killing several and impairing one wave of their attack. Meanwhile about fifty Germans had crossed a section of railway which the Australians had held. McDougall turned his gun on them and when his ammunition was spent, he seized a bayonet and charged, killing four men. He then used a Lewis-gun, killing many Germans and forcing the surrender of the remaining thirty-three. Eight days later, in the same location, he won the Military Medal. During a heavy enemy attack he got a gun into position and enfiladed the Germans at close quarters. When the gun was hit, he crawled some 300 yards under fire to get a replacement; he then took command of the leaderless platoon for the rest of the action.

McDougall returned to England on 19 August 1918 where he was invested with the V.C. by King George V. He later returned to Australia and discharged from the Australian Imperial Force on 15 December 1918. McDougall died on 07 July 1968 at Scottsdale. The uniform he wore and the Lewis-gun he used at Dernancourt are displayed in the Australian War Memorial Hall of Valour with his V.C. and Military Medal.

 


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.



Add new comment

Cove App

COVE App

Fast access to The Cove anywhere, anytime. Additional feature of receiving notifications for new content.

Reflective Journal

REFLECTIVE JOURNAL

Record your reflections in a structured way to improve your performance.