Australians on the Western Front: Dalziel’s bravery turned the tide

INSPIRED: Private Henry Dalziel VC of the 15th Bn AIF. Picture: AWM A05444

INSPIRED: Private Henry Dalziel VC of the 15th Bn AIF. Picture: AWM A05444

Private Harry Dalziel, an Atherton Tableland railway fireman before the First World War, was the 1000th soldier awarded the Victoria Cross.

When tanks failed to arrive to support 15th Battalion soldiers advancing on Pear Trench during the Battle of Hamel, German machine-gun fire caused many Australian casualties.

Dalziel, 25, rushed one machine-gun post with revolvers and killed or captured the entire crew.

He crossed open ground under artillery fire twice to get ammunition for his Lewis gun until a head wound exposed his brain.

Dalziel’s VC citation said he “undoubtedly saved many lives and turned what could have been a severe check into a splendid success.”

After extensive medical treatment he returned to Queensland where he wrote ballads including ‘A Song of the Tableland.’

His family retains a 1949 letter from Princess Elizabeth respectfully declining Dalziel’s gift of his VC for newborn Prince Charles.