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ANZAC Gallipoli Special Part 2 - Albert Jacka, Australia

Albert Jacka, born 10th January 1893 at Winchelsea in Victoria. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on September 18th of 1914, with the rank of Private and was assigned to the 14th Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Division and finished his training at Broadmeadows Camp just outside of Melbourne.

Once Turkey was drawn into the war and became a German ally, the 1st Division was sent to Egypt to defend the Suez Canal. Jacka and his battalion arrived at Alexandria on 31st January, 1915. During ten weeks of training south of Cairo the 4th Brigade was merged with two New Zealand brigades and merged with the 1st Light Horse Brigade to form the New Zealand and Australian Division (NZ&A) under Major General Alexander Godley.

Jacka and his new division landed at Anzac Cove on the 26th April in the Dardanelles, fighting against Turkish defenders on a narrow piece of beach. The NZ&A held position, a series of trenches which became known as Courtneys Post, and this was the location of Jackas heroics for which he was awarded the VC at Gallipoli.

19th May saw the Turks launch a general attack to attempt to force the Australians back into the sea. They seized ten metres of trench at Courtneys Post, but Australians at either end halted their advance. At the northern end Jacka, with a few others, tried to evict the Turks, but was beaten back. All were wounded in the exchange except for Jacka so it was then decided that while a feint was made from the same end by the wounded, Jacka would attack from the flank and rear, in what was known as No Mans Land. The party waited long enough for Jacka to circle the rear and then threw two bombs and gave covering fire. Jacka leapt over the parapet, shot five Turks with his rifle, bayoneted two others and forced the rest to flee the captured trench.

Jacka was quickly promoted to Corporal then onto Company Sergeant Major and continued service at Gallipoli well into December of 1915 when the allied forces were evacuated from the Gallipoli peninsular and returned back to Egypt. He was then ordered to Officers Training School and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and went on to serve on the Western front.

It was generally believed that Jacka should have been awarded two more VCs for his actions at Pozieres (which the Official Historian claimed was the single most successful individual action of the war), and at Bullecourt. A member of his Battalion wrote: 'He deserved the Victoria Cross as thoroughly at Pozieres, Bullecourt and at Ypres as at Gallipoli . . . The whole AIF came to look on him as a rock of strength that never failed. We of the 14th Battalion never ceased to be thrilled when we heard of ourselves referred to . . . by passing units on the march as 'some of Jackas mob'. (1 - see below)

Jacka was injured on the front lines, repatriated to the UK then returned to Australia where he instantly became a national hero; he received the 500 pounds and gold watch that the prominent Melbourne business and sporting identity, John Wren, had promised to the first Australian of the war to receive the VC and his image was used on recruiting posters and magazine covers.

Jacka became a successful business man eventually becoming Mayor of St Kilda where his civic work was characterised by his strong interest in assisting the unemployed.

On 17th January, 1932, one week after his 39th Birthday, he died from chronic nephritis; he was buried at St. Kilda Cemetery, with eight other Victoria Cross recipients acting as pallbearers and an estimated 6,000 witnesses to the burial as his body passed en route to the cemetery. He was eternally honoured in Canberra, Australia's capital, where in 1991 the suburb of JACKA was named after him.

Australian War Memorial website and also Wikipedia.

Spread the word.

Mark Minehan, PP Travel, London

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(1) from For valour : Australians and the Victoria Cross / by Richard Reid, page 13

Posted: 20 November 2009 12:58:09 GMT by Mark
Being at Gallipoli for the dawn service on Anzac Day where our forefathers landed in Turkey, creating the Anzac legend, will be a moment cherished by a privileged few. PP Travel is a an Australian and NZ DVA recognised Anzac Day tour operator to G ... read more

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