Military History

The Highest Honour #9 | George Cartwright | Claud Castleton

By The Cove March 15, 2021


PRIVATE GEORGE CARTWRIGHT VC (1894 - 1978, 84yo)

George Cartwright was born on 9 December 1894 at South Kensington, London and in 1912 migrated to Australia where he worked as a labourer on a sheep station. On 16 December 1915 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force where he became an original member of the 33rd Battalion.

In May 1916 he embarked for England where the division trained before moving to France in November. Cartwright was wounded in action on 9 June 1917 at Messines, Belgium, but remained on duty. He was one of 271 officers and soldiers from the battalion who were victims of the Germans' concentrated gas-attack at Villers-Bretonneux, France, on 17 April 1918. After being hospitalised, he rejoined his unit in June.

On 31 August 1918 the Australian Corps assaulted at Mont St Quentin. The 33rd Battalion attacked south-west of Bouchavesnes. Lacking adequate artillery support at the outset, the leading troops were stopped by machine-gun fire from a post at the corner of Road Wood. Without hesitation, Private Cartwright stood up and walked towards the gun, firing his rifle from the shoulder: he shot the gunner and two who tried to replace him. Cartwright then threw a bomb at the post and, covered by the explosion, rushed forward, capturing the gun and nine German soldiers. Cheering loudly, the Australians renewed their advance. Cartwright was awarded the Victoria Cross. On 30 September, during the attack on the Hindenburg line, he was wounded in the head and left arm, and evacuated to England. Having received his V.C. from King George V, he returned to Australia and was discharged from the A.I.F. on 16 May 1919.

Cartwright was mobilised for full-time service on 5 March 1940, he was promoted to Captain in 1942 and performed training and amenities duties in Australia. Cartwright was placed on the Retired List on 11 May 1946. He died on 2 February 1978 at Gordon and was cremated. His widow presented his V.C. and other medals to the Imperial War Museum, London. He is commemorated in the New South Wales Garden of Remembrance, Rookwood.

 

SERGEANT CLAUD CASTLETON  VC (1893 - 1916, 23yo)

Claud Charles Castleton was born on 12 April 1893 at Suffolk, London.  He migrated to Australia in 1912 and on 11 March 1915 enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at Sydney.

Castleton was posted to the 18th Battalion and sailed for Egypt in 1915.  His unit, which was to serve with the 2nd Brigade until the evacuation, reached Gallipoli on 06 August and on 22 August took part in the attack on Hill 60. Castleton was promoted to Corporal on 07 December and temporary Sergeant in February 1916. On 08 March, soon after his arrival in France, he was transferred to the 5th Australian Machine-Gun Company and was confirmed in his rank. He served on the Somme with this unit and on the night of 28 July took part in an attack on enemy trenches at Pozières Heights. The Australian advance was stopped by machine-gun fire and shelling, and for three hours troops lay out in No Man's Land under withering fire. Castleton twice brought back wounded men but, while bringing in a third, was hit in the back and killed instantly. 

Castleton was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously and is buried in the Pozières British cemetery at Ovillers-la-Boiselle, France.


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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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