Lieutenant Colonel Henry (Mad Harry) Murray VC CMG DSO and Bar DCM.
Henry William "Harry" Murray, son of farmer, Edward Murray, and his wife Clarissa Littler, was born on 1st December 1880 presumably at his parents' home in Clairville, near Evandale, Tasmania, Australia. Harry moved to Western Australia at the age of 19 or 20 where he worked as a mail courier on the goldfields. By 1914 he was employing timber-cutters for the railways in the south west of Western Australia.
Wounded by gunshot to his right knee, he was evacuated to Egypt on 13th May. Although the medical prsonnel wanted to evacuate him to Australia, Henry wanted to return to his men; getting his way he boarded a transport bound for Gallipoli. Once Henry Murray reached Gallipoli he was wounded again on the 8th July. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM). In August he was firstly promoted to Sergeant, then commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and posted to the 13th Australian Infantry Battalion.After the Allied evacuation of Gallipoli in December and re-training in Egypt, Henry Murray, now a Captain, with the 13th Battalion was sent to Marseilles, France, and deployed to the Western Front. On the Western Front he defied the statistics, participating in each of his unit's major actions and surviving. On 13th July, the 13th Battalion was sent to Bailleul, and fought in the Battle of the Somme where he was twice more wounded.
He was appointed Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for his part in the battle at Mouquet Farm. After six weeks of recuperation, he returned to the battalion in France on 19th October 1916. On 4th January 1917, he was Mentioned in Despatches. He was awarded the Victoria Cross when the battalion, Major Harry Murray commanding A Company, attacked the German position at Stormy Trench on 4-5th February 1917.
London Gazette on 10th March 1917
War Office, 10th March, 1917
His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned Officer and Non-Commissioned Officer: –Capt. Henry William Murray, D.S.O., Aus. infy. For most conspicuous bravery when in command of the right flank company in attack. He led his company to the assault with great skill and courage, and the position was quickly captured. Fighting of a very severe nature followed, and three heavy counter-attacks were beaten back, these successes being due to Captain Murray's wonderful work.
Throughout the night his company suffered heavy casualties through concentrated enemy shell fire, and on one occasion gave ground for a short way. This gallant officer rallied his command and saved the situation by sheer valour. He made his presence felt throughout the line, encouraging his men, heading bombing parties, leading bayonet charges, and carrying wounded to places of safety. His magnificent example inspired his men throughout.
In March 1918, Harry was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and given command of the 4th Machine Gun Battalion. He remained in this position until the end of the war. In April, during the attack on Bullecourt, he wwas awarded a bar to his Distinguished Service Order. In October 1918 he was awarded the French Croix de Guerre and in May 1919 was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG).
Settling back into north Queensland life, he purchased a grazing property at Muckadilla and, on 13th October 1921 at 41 years of age, Harry wed estate agent Constance Cameron in Bollon, Queensland. The marriage was an unhappy one and the two parted ways in 1925 when Harry left for New Zealand. On 11th November 1927, a decree nisi with Constance as the petitioner was granted on the grounds of desertion. Nine days later in Auckland, New Zealand, 20th November 1927, Harry married Ellen "Nellie" Cameron, Constance's niece. The couple returned to Queensland in 1928 and purchased another grazing property, at Richmond. Harry and Nell had two children:
Henry Murray, then the Australian Army's most highly decorated soldier, again volunteered for military service when the Second World War started. He scraped five years off his age (1880 birth to 1885) to aid being accepted. He was, after all, 59 years of age! He was appointed commanding officer of the 26th (Militia) Battalion, 11th Brigade; tasked with re-raising the battalion with its Headquarters in Hughenden and companies based in Julia Creek, Winton, and Longreach in central northern Queensland. In August 1942, at the height of the Japanese invasion threat but with the 6th and 7th Divisions now available for Australia's northern defence, he was posted to the 23rd Battalion, Volunteer Defence Corps, as commanding officer. He retired from active duty on 8th February 1944.
As a Victoria Cross recipient, Henry Murray was awarded both the King George VI Coronation Medal (1937) and Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal (1953).
On 6th January 1966, aged 85 years, Harry Murray and his wife were in a car accident where he suffered broken ribs. He died the following day due to shock and a weak heart. Henry Murray was interred at Mount Thompson Crematorium with full military honours.
Order of St Michael and St George (CMG)
Distinguished Service Order (DSO) + Bar
Distinguished Conduct Medal
Victory Medal + MiD Oakleaf
British War Medal
King George VI Coronation Medal
Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal
Croix de guerre
War Medal, 1939–1945
Australian Service Medal 1939-1945
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On 31 Jul 2017 at 09:46 GMT Anonymous Cassel wrote:
Categories: Hollywood Hospital, Nedlands, Western Australia | Gallipoli 1915 | Victoria Cross | Victoria Cross (Imperial award), Australia | Distinguished Service Order | Companions of the Order of St Michael and St George | Mentioned in Despatches | Distinguished Conduct Medal | Croix de guerre 1914-1918 | 1914-1915 Star | Victory Medal | British War Medal | War Medal 1939-1945 | Australia Service Medal 1939-1945 | King George VI Coronation Medal | Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal | AIF, 16th Australian Infantry Battalion | AIF, 13th Australian Infantry Battalion | AIF, 4th Australian Machine Gun Battalion | 26th Australian Infantry Battalion, World War II | Volunteer Defence Corps - 23rd Battalion | Collaborative Profile of the Week | Australia, Farmers | Mt Thompson Memorial Gardens and Crematorium, Holland Park, Queensland | Anzacs, World War One | Wounded in Action, Australia, World War I