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Dwyer brothers of Bruny Island

Dwyer brothers WW1jpg.jpg

“For patriotic fervour and readiness to respond to the Empire’s cause, the actions of the …Dwyer brothers (Jack J., Thomas V. and Denis P.) …deserves to be placed on the record, and is worthy of emulation by male members of other families in the Commonwealth.” (The Mercury, 17 March 1916 page 5).

So wrote the Alonnah correspondent for The Mercury, who was undoubtedly impressed by the Dwyer brothers, who were the sons of Mr Charles and Mrs Mary Dwyer (nee Scanlon), of Sunlight, Alonnah, Bruny Island, Tasmania

John James Dwyer (known as Jack) and Thomas Dwyer both served on the Gallipoli Peninsula and according to The Mercury were present at the time of the evacuation.

Corporal Thomas Dwyer

Corporal Thomas Dwyer, of the 4th Machine Gun Battalion, received a Military Medal for bravery in the field while serving in France in 1918.  He was appointed as a Driver while in France.  Tom also battled illness and was hospitalised in Alexandria with influenza, and was hospitalised in Cairo with scarlet fever.

Sergeant John James Dwyer

Sergeant John Dwyer was the first Bruny Islander and the fifth Tasmanian to be awarded a Victoria Cross.

Sergeant Dwyer was posted to the 15th Battalion joining it in August 1915 at Gallipoli. On 26 September 1917, during the battle of Polygon Wood (Zonnebeke, Belgium), Sergeant 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".  These actions would see him earn the Victoria Cross.

Sergeant Dwyer returned to Bruny Island to a heroes’ welcome with many Bruny Islanders waiting at the Alonnah jetty for his arrival, which was followed by a reception at the Alonnah Public Hall. A grand social was also held at Cygnet Hall in Sergeant Dwyer’s honour.

Mr John Dwyer VC married Miss Myrtle Dillon, on 24 September 1919, at St Brendon’s Roman Catholic Church, Alonnah.  The church was decorated in orange and black, to match the battalion colours.  Mr Dwyer VC and his groomsman, Thomas Dwyer MM, both wore their military uniforms.

Denis Paul Dwyer

Denis Paul Dwyer was a farmer on Bruny Island and enlisted for World War One on 23 February 1916. He embarked from Hobart on the Berrima on 1 July 1916.

Lance Corporal Dwyer served with the 40th Battalion in France and was wounded in action at Messines on 7 June 1917.  He was wounded in action on a second occasion on 23 March 1918.

Lance Corporal Dwyer returned to Australia on 22 January 1920.


“Bruny Island Volunteers”, (Mercury, Hobart Tas 1860-1954), 17 March 1916 page 5.

“An interesting wedding Mr J.J.Dwyer, V.C. Married Picturesque event at Bruny Island”, The Mercury, Thursday 2 October 1919 page 8.


Bruny Island Historical Society