26 SEP 1917: World War I and Sergeant (later Lieutenant) John James Dwyer, 4th Machine Gun Company, originally from Lovett, Tasmania, earns the Victoria Cross at Zonnebeke, Belgium. Jack Dwyer was born at Lovett (now Cygnet) Tasmania. He enlisted in early 1915 and served on Gallipoli with the 15th Battalion. In 1916 he went to France with the 4th Machine Gun Company. Next year on 26 September 1917, during the battle of Polygon Wood (Zonnebeke, Belgium), Dwyer’s Vickers machine-gun team came under fire until he rushed his gun forward, and at point-blank range put the enemy gun out of action.
He then took both weapons and helped repulse a German counter-attack. Later, after his Vickers was blown up by shellfire, he led his team back through the enemy barrage to secure another and then bring it into action.
At all times, he showed “contempt of danger, cheerfulness and courage”.
His citation read: “For most conspicuous bravery when in attack. Sergeant Dwyerr, in charge of a Vickers machine gun, went forward with the first wave of the brigade. On reaching the final objective, this non-commissioned officer rushed his gun forrward in advance of the captured position in order to obtain a commanding spot. Whilst advancing, he noticed an enemy machine gun firing on the troops on our right flank, and causing casualties. Unhesitatingly, he rushed his gun forward to within 30 yards of the enemy gun, and fired point blank at it, putting it out of action, and killing the gun crrew. He then seized the gun and, totally ignoring the snipers from the rear of the enemy position carried it back across the shell swept ground to our front line, and established both it and his Vickers gun on the right flank of our brigade. Sergeant Dwyer commanded these guns with grreat coolness, and, when the enemy counter attacked our positions, he rendered great assistance in repulsing them. On the following day, when the position was heavily shelled, this non-commissioned officer took up successive positions. On one occasion, his Vickers gun was blown up by shell fire,but he conducted his gun team back to Headquarters through the enemy barrage, secured one of the reserve guns, and rushed it back to our position in the shortest possible time. During the whole of the attack, his contempt of danger, cheerfulness, and courage, raised the spirits of all who were in his sector of the line.”
Dwyer was commissioned in May 1918 and returned to Australia five months later.
Back in Tasmania, he became active in local affairs and politics. He established a sawmilling business at New Norfolk. In 1931 he entered state parliament and eventually held several important offices, including that of deputy premier. Dwyer received the Victoria Cross, service medals for the First World War and coronation medals for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II. More; http://ow.ly/SF8jl