28 November 2006, Sydney, Australia

( select to enlarge )
Medal entitlement of Lance Corporal Bernard Gordon,
41st Bn, Australian Imperial Force

  • Victoria Cross
  • Military Medal ( MM ) ( not shown )
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 ) ( not shown )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 ) ( not shown )
  • King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 )
The Victoria Cross awarded to Lance Corporal Bernard Gordon, 41st Bn, AIF, has been sold at auction by Bonhams & Goodman of Sydney for a hammer price of AUS$400,000 ( £160,356 ). The VC was accompanied by Gordon's two coronation medals of 1937 and 1953, but the whereabouts of his Military Medal, British War Medal and Victory Medal from the First World War are unknown. The successful bidder was a lady bidding on behalf of second party who wished to remain anonymous.

At a small ceremony held on Tuesday, 12 December 2006, the Victoria Cross awarded to Bernard Gordon was handed over into the care of the Australian War Memorial by the anonymous buyer of the VC.

On the 26th August 1918 the Maricourt plateau, between the Bray - Montauban gulley and the Somme, was still in German hands. The plan for the following day was for the 58th Division to drive the enemy out of Maricourt and for the Australian 41st Battalion to capture the Somme River bend at Fargny Mill, to the south of the plateau. During the period 26 / 27 August, Lance Corporal Bernard Gordon gained a Victoria Cross during the fighting at Fargny Wood.

The 41st Battalion were ordered to capture a system of trenches to the east of Maricourt and after they fought through Spur Wood the left company reached a bank to the south of Fargny Wood. A German machine gun position on the right of his company was dealt with by Lance Corporal Gordon by capturing the machine gun and killing its gunner. Gordon then repeatedly went into Fargny Wood, finally accounting for more than sixty German prisoners.

By 8:05 a.m. on the 27th August 1918, the 41st Battalion had advanced over a thousand yards and had consolidated. The rest of the day was spent in a precarious position, with the Somme River at their backs and the enemy in front of them. During the night of 27th / 28th August the 41st Bn was relieved by the Australian 34th Battalion and Bernard Gordon was later awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry, which saw him capture two officers, sixty-one other ranks and six machine guns. One of these guns is on display at the Australian War Memorial.

For the award of the Victoria Cross

[ London Gazette, 26 December 1918 ], Fargny Wood, Nr Bray, France, 26-27 August 1918, Lance Corporal Bernard Sidney Gordon, 41st Bn, Australian Imperial Force.

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on the 26/27th August 1918, east of Bray. He led his section through heavy shell fire to the objective, which he consolidated.

Single-handed he attacked an enemy machine gun which was enfilading the company on his right, killed the man on the gun and captured the post, which contained one officer and ten men. He then cleared up a trench, capturing twenty-nine prisoners and two machine guns. In clearing up further trenches he captured twenty-two prisoners, including one officer, and three machine guns.

Practically unaided, he captured, in the course of these operations, two officers and sixty-one other ranks, together with six machine guns, and displayed throughout a wonderful example of fearless initiative.

Bernard Gordon enlisted on 27 September 1915 and served continuously with the 41st Battalion throughout 1917 - 1918. He was appointed Lance Corporal in June 1918 and on the first day of the battle of Armiens, he single-handedly attacked a machine gun crew that was holding up his section, killing the crew and capturing the gun. Later that day he stalked and killed an enemy sniper. He was awarded the Military Medal for his gallantry on 8th August 1918.

Four days after his VC action Gordon was wounded in the Mont St Quentin area. He returned to Australia in January 1919, was demobilised in April, and after a period as a grocer at Clayfield, Queensland, took up a dairy farming property near Beaudesert.

Bernard Gordon died at his home on the 19th October 1963 and was cremated at Mount Thompson Crematorium. His ashes were interred at Pinaroo Lawn Cemetery, Albany Creek, a suburb of Brisbane, Queensland, where there is also a plaque to his memory.


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Iain Stewart, 28 November 2006