Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Forgotten Heroes - Private John Carroll, V.C.

Private John Carroll, 33rd Battalion, Victoria Cross action at St Yves (battle of Messines).

Jack Carroll was born in Brisbane but grew up in Western Australia and worked around Kalgoorlie and nearby Karrawang. In 1916 he joined the AIF's 44th Battalion, but soon transferred to the 33rd. Messines was the battalion's first big action.

Over the period of 7-10 June, during the battle at St Yves (near Messines), Carroll was outstanding: he rushed an enemy trench and killed four Germans; assisted a soldier in distress and killed another German; attacked a machine-gun team, killing three men and capturing the gun; then extracted comrades buried in a shell hole while under heavy fire. His citation declared: "his magnificent example of gallantry and devotion to duty inspired all ranks in his battalion".

Carroll was a casual and happy-go-lucky man, known by his mates as "the wild Irishman". He was wounded a month later and again, severely this time, on 12 October 1917. Returned to Australia, he resumed work as a labourer and railwayman. In 1927 he had his foot amputated in a work accident.

Carroll was awarded the Victoria Cross, war service medals, and coronation medals for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II.

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