b. 16/08/1891 Brisbane, Australia. d. 04/10/1971 Perth, Australia.
John Carroll (1891-1971), known as “Jack”, was born on 16th August 1891 at Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. His father, also John Carroll, was born in Tipperary, Ireland. He married Catherine “Kate” nee Wallace on 23rd December 1888, also born in Tipperary. They emigrated to Brisbane, Queensland before 1891, moved to Donnybrook, Western Australia in 1893 and then to Yarloop. In 1905 they settled in Kurrawang, where he and his son John were labourers with the Goldfields Firewood Supply Company. His father was killed in an accident in 1919. John had six siblings, three of each.
After working with his father as a labourer, he became a miner at the Kalgoorlie gold mines and at nearby Kurrawang. He was a good athlete and was a prominent member of the local Australian rules football club. He enlisted with the AIF at Kalgoorlie, Western Australia on 27th April 1916, understating his age by one year. He was posted to 44th Battalion (2nd Reinforcements) at Blackboy Hill, Northam, Western Australia. He embarked for England from Fremantle aboard HMAT A28 “Miltiades” on 9th August.
Having arrived in Plymouth, he joined 11th Training Battalion on Salisbury Plain on 1st October followed by 3rd Division Amalgamated Training Battalion. He transferred to 33rd Battalion on 14th November. He left Southampton on 21st November and headed to France and the Western Front. He was charged with being absent without leave for failing to appear on parade on 3rd May 1917 and was awarded two days Field Punishment.
On 7th–12th June 1917 at St. Yves, Belgium, during the Battle of Messines, Private Carroll rushed the enemy’s trench and bayoneted four of the occupants. He then noticed a comrade in difficulty and went to his assistance, killing another of the enemy. Next, he single-handedly attacked a machine-gun team, killing three of them and capturing the gun. Later, two of his comrades were buried by a shell; in spite of heavy shelling and machine-gun fire, he managed to rescue them.
John was wounded in the chest near Messines on 9th July and was evacuated to 14th General Hospital, Boulogne on 10th July and from there to No 1 Convalescent Unit. He forfeited a day’s pay for being in café against orders on 18th July. He rejoined his unit in August and was promoted to Lance Corporal in September. He was then shot in the right buttock near Passchendaele on 12th October and evacuated to England, where he was treated at 2nd Birmingham War Hospital from 21st October.
On 27th January 1918 he was assaulted while returning from Warminster, resulting in a fractured left fibula, and was discharged to No 1 Command Depot on 6th March. The VC was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 23rd March 1918. John left England aboard HMAT D21 “Medic” on 24th August with fellow VCs, John Dwyer, Reg Inwood, Jorgen Jensen, Thomas Kenny, Leonard Keysor, Stan McDougall, Walter Peeler, William Ruthven and John Whittle. They were all returned home to assist in recruiting for the all-volunteer AIF.
John worked as a guard on the Kurrawang line in Western Australia, then worked as a railway truck examiner at Hoffman’s Mill, Yarloop, Western Australia. On 1st November 1927, he slipped while boarding a train during shunting operations. His right foot was crushed and it had to be amputated. He continued to work as a labourer for many years afterwards. He married Mary Brown on 23rd April 1923 at the St Mary’s Cathedral, Perth. They had no children.
John attended several commemorative events including the ANZAC Service on 25th April 1927 in Melbourne in the presence of the Duke of York (later King George VI). He also attended the 1929 lunch at Government House, Perth to honour VCs unable to travel to London for the VC Reunion. He also attended the 1956 VC Centenary Celebrations at Hyde Park on 26th June. John died at the Repatriation General Hospital, Hollywood, Perth on 4th October 1971. He was buried in Karrakatta Cemetery (one of nine VCs buried there).
In addition to the VC he was awarded the British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, George VI Coronation Medal 1937 and Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953. After his death his medals were bequeathed to the Kalgoorlie Returned Services League Club. The VC was too valuable to display and was held in a safe in Kalgoorlie. In October 1989 the medals were presented to the Australian War Memorial. The family objected, claiming they were not consulted, but the presentation went ahead.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL, CANBERRA.
BURIAL PLACE: KARRAKATTA CEMETERY, PERTH, AUSTRALIA.
RC SECTION KA, PLOT 658
Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Map
Steve Lee www.memorialstovalour.co.uk – Medal Group at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra
Richard Yielding – Walk of Fame Plaque, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.