Henry Dalziel VC

b. 18/02/1893 Irvinebank, Queensland, Australia. d. 24/07/1965 Brisbane, Australia.

Henry Dalziel (1893-1965) was born on 18th February 1893 at Irvinebank, Queensland, son of James Dalziel, miner, and his wife Eliza Maggie, née McMillan, both of whom were native-born. He was educated at Irvinebank and became a fireman on the Cairns-Atherton railway.

Henry Dalziel VC

Dalziel enlisted as a private in the Australian Imperial Force on 16th January 1915 and embarked with reinforcements for the 15th Battalion. Joining his unit at Gallipoli in July, he served in the battle of Sari Bair in August and was eventually evacuated with his battalion to Egypt. On 31st May 1916 he sailed for France, going into the line at Bois Grenier and from July serving on the Somme, at Pozières and Mouquet Farm. In 1917 Dalziel saw action at Gueudecourt, Lagnicourt, Bullecourt and Messines before being wounded by shrapnel at Polygon Wood on 16 October. He resumed duty on 7th June 1918, first as a driver and then as a gunner.

For valour during the battle of Hamel on 4th July Dalziel won the thousandth Victoria Cross awarded. When his battalion’s advance met with strong resistance from a heavily armed enemy garrison at Pear Trench, Dalziel as second member of a Lewis-gun team helped his partner to silence machine-gun fire. When fire opened up from another post he dashed forward and, with his revolver, killed or captured the crew and gun, thus allowing the advance to proceed. During this action the tip of his trigger-finger was shot away; he was ordered to the rear, but instead continued to serve his gun in the final storming of Pear Trench. Although again ordered back to the aid-post he began taking ammunition up to the front line, continuing to do so until he was shot in the head.

Dalziel’s wound was so severe that his skull was smashed and the brain exposed. He received extensive medical treatment in England before returning to Australia in January 1919. While travelling home by train, he received a hero’s welcome at every station from Townsville to Atherton. On 8th April 1920, at the Congregational manse, South Brisbane, he married Ida Maude Ramsay, a nurse who had served with the 17th Australian General Hospital. They took up a soldier-settlement block, which they named Zenith, on the Tolga railway line. As Dalziel was unable to cope with the day-to-day duties of a small mixed farm his wife assumed most of the work-load.

His interest in farming waned after a few years and Dalziel left her to run Zenith and moved south. He worked in a Sydney factory in the late 1920s but by 1933 had settled in Brisbane where he was out of work for some time; he later received a war pension. In the early 1930s he joined the Citizen Military Forces, becoming a sergeant in the 9th/15th Battalion. He developed an interest in song-writing, cultivated at first during long periods of hospitalization; some of his songs, such as A Song of the Tableland and Love Time, Merry Love Time, were published in England. In 1956 he went to London for the V.C. centenary celebrations at Hyde Park.

Dalziel died of a stroke on 24th July 1965 at the Repatriation General Hospital, Greenslopes, Brisbane, and was cremated with military honours at Mount Thompson Crematorium, Brisbane. His ashes were scattered in the Garden of Remembrance. Dalziel’s medal group containing the VC, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, War Medal 1939-45, Australian Service Medal 1939-45, King George VI Coronation Medal 1937 and Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953 were sold at Noble Numismatics in Sydney in November 2010 for AUS$525,000 (£326,665) and were purchased by Kerry Stokes AC, who donated them to the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.





Steve Lee www.memorialstovalour.co.uk – Image of Dalziel VC Medal Group at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Thomas Stewart – Image of the Le Hamel Memorial Board, France.

Brian Drummond – Image of the Freemason’s Memorial, London.