Corporal John Edmondson VC
Australia’s First Victoria Cross (VC) of WW2 won at Tobruk
NX17505, 2/17th Battalion, Rat of Tobruk
8th October 1914 – 14th April 1941, 26 years of age.
Cpl John Edmondson was awarded the VC for conspicuous courage in a night attack on
enemy forces outside Tobruk on the night of 13th April 1941, when he received serious
On the night April 13 a party of German infantry broke through the wire defences of
Tobruk and established itself with at least six machine guns, mortars and two small
field pieces. It was decided to attack the enemy with bayonets. A party consisting of
one officer Lieutenant Fred Mackell, Cpl Edmondson and five privates took part in the
charge. During the counter-attack, Cpl Edmondson was severely wounded in the neck
and stomach from machine gun fire, however hiding the severity of his wounds; he
continued to advance under heavy fire and killed one enemy with his bayonet. Later
his officer whilst bayoneting an enemy soldier was grasped about the leg by that
soldier and another attacked the officer from behind with a pistol. Lieutenant Mackell
called for help and Cpl Edmondson who was some yards away, immediately came to
his assistance and the injured corporal killed both the enemy. This action undoubtedly
saved his officer’s life. Shortly after returning from this successful counter-attach, Cpl
Edmondson died from his wounds.
On 1st July 1941, the British War Office advised the Australian Government, that King
George ‘has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the Victoria
Cross to Corporal John Hurst Edmondson’. This was the first of 20 VC’s awarded to
Australians in World War 11.
Cpl Edmondson was 26. He was born at Wagga, but moved to Liverpool as a child. He
had red hair which earned him the nick name ‘Meggsy’. Until he joined the militia
shortly before the war began, he worked on his father’s farm. He was a champion rifle
shooter. He served in the militia until the 20th May 1940, when he joined the A.I.F.,
sailing for overseas on the 20th of October.
In 1961, Cpl Edmondson’s mother Maude, presented his VC to the Australian War