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Corporal Walter Brown VC DCM

Corporal Walter Brown VC
Corporal Walter Brown VC

Date of birth: 3 July 1885
Place of birth: New Norfolk, TAS
Date of death: 28 February 1942
Place of death: Malaya
Unit: 20th Battalion, 5th Brigade, 2nd Division
Date of Action: 6 July 1918
Place of Action: Villers-Bretonneux, France

Born in Tasmania on 3 July 1885 he spent his early years in New Norfolk. After leaving school he worked as a grocer in Hobart until moving to Sydney, enlisting with the AIF on 26 July 1915.

Brown left for Egypt in October 1915 joining the 1st Light Horse. In Egypt Brown made up a story that he has lost his false teeth so that he could be sent to Cairo, where he transferred to the 20th Battalion reinforcements. On 30 September 1916 Brown left for France where he spent a month serving with the 55th Battalion.

In September and October 1917, Brown served at Passchendale, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for aiding his fellow wounded soldiers under heavy fire, and after his sergeant was disabled, taking charge of his section.

On 6 July 1918, at Villers-Bretonneux, Brown's party had taken over some newly captured trenches. When told that an enemy sniper was causing trouble, Brown discarded his rifle and picked up two Mills bombs. Running towards the post, he threw one bomb, which fell short, but on reaching the position he attacked a German with his fists and threatened the others with his remaining grenade. They all promptly surrendered. These actions saw Brown receive the Victoria Cross medal.

During the war Brown was twice wounded, and promoted to sergeant. Although married and over-age, noting his age was 39 not 54 as it was, he served again in the Second World War. He went missing after the fall of Singapore in February 1942; he was last sighted declaring, "no surrender for me".