Military History

The Highest Honour #8 | Alexander Burton | John Carroll

By The Cove March 8, 2021


CORPORAL ALEXANDER BURTON VC (1893 - 1915, 22yo)

Alexander Burton was born in Kyneton, Victoria in 1893. After attending school Burton followed in his father's footsteps working in an ironmongery department and on 18 August 1914 he enlisted into the 7th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force.

The 7th Battalion took part in the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April; however, Burton could only watch the landing from the a hospital shop due to being sick with a throat infection. He rejoined his Battalion and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery at Lone Pine on 9 August.  

Early that morning the Turks launched a strong counter-attack on a newly captured trench held by Burton, a personal friend Lieutenant F. H. Tubb, Corporal W. Dunstan and a few others. The Turks advanced up a sap and blew in the sandbag barricade but Burton, Tubb and Dunstan repulsed them and rebuilt it. Supported by strong bombing parties, the enemy twice more destroyed the barricade but were driven off and the barricade was rebuilt. Burton was killed by a bomb while building up the parapet. Tubb and Dunstan were also awarded the Victoria Cross. Burton's award was gazetted on 15 October and on 28 January 1916 he was mentioned in dispatches.

Burton has no known grave, but his name is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial, Gallipoli, and by an oak tree and bridge at Euroa. In 1967 his family presented his V.C. to the Australian War Memorial.

Alexander Burton featured in The Cove's Lone Pine 105th Anniversary Special article if you want to read more about him and his efforts. 

PRIVATE JOHN CARROLL VC (1891 - 1971, 80yo)

John Carroll was born in Brisbane in 1891 and moved around Australia in his early years, eventually settling in Kurrawang, Western Australia, where he joined the Goldfields Firewood Supply Company as a labourer. Carroll enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force as a Private on 27 April 1916.

On 14 November 1916 he was transferred to the 33rd Battalion where he went into the front line at Armentières, France, and on 7 June 1917 his unit moved into position for the Messines offensive. On 7 June, in the battle of Messines Ridge, he rushed an enemy trench and bayoneted four men, then rescued a comrade who was having difficulties. Later in the advance he attacked a machine-gun crew, killing three men and capturing the gun, and, in spite of heavy shelling and machine-gun fire, dug out two of his mates who had been buried by a shell explosion. During the battle his battalion was on the line for ninety-six hours and Carroll 'displayed most wonderful courage and fearlessness' throughout. He was awarded the Victoria Cross and in September was promoted Lance Corporal. On 12 October, in the second battle of Passchendaele, he was severely wounded and did not rejoin his unit until June 1918.

Carroll, who was known among his A.I.F. comrades as 'the wild Irishman', was casual and happy-go-lucky by nature. He missed three dates for his investiture with the V.C. and had to be sent for on the fourth occasion; after the ceremony he amused himself by exercising the Victoria Cross winners' right to turn out at the Buckingham Palace Guard. He died in the Repatriation General Hospital, Hollywood, on 4 October 1971 and was buried in Karrakatta cemetery with full military honours.


Portrait

Biography

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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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