THE life and times of Northam’s Victoria Cross winner Hugo Throssell has just been highlighted by the publication of his biography The Price of Valour by John Hamilton.
And, on Friday, November 9, the remarkable valour and gallantry of York’s Victoria Cross winner Lieutenant Lawrence Dominic McCarthy will be honoured by the 2012 Lt Frederick Bell VC Memorial Lecture hosted by the Cottesloe RSL sub-branch at the Cottesloe Civic Centre.
Rob O’Connor, a QC who spoke at last year’s Anzac Day observance in York, will deliver the lecture entitled Super-VC and two Croix de Guerre: The Life of Lt Lawrence Dominic McCarthy VC.
Born in York in 1892, Lt McCarthy was orphaned at an early age he was transferred to the Christian Brothers orphanage at Clontarf around 1901.
He was apprenticed at 13 for four years on a farm at Jennacubbine and later was a contractor sawmiller at Mt Helena where he lost three fingers on his left hand.
Lt McCarthy was rejected when he tried to enlist with the AIF because of his missing fingers but was accepted in 1914 when he was able to establish he had won competitions at the Northam Rifle Club.
He left Albany on December 31, 1914 en, route for Egypt.
Lt McCarthy landed at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, and apart from convalescence in England he was in that ill-fated campaign from start to finish.
He then went to the Western Front where he was promoted to second lieutenant.
On Novemer 3, 1917, Lt McCarthy won the Croix de Guerre, the top French bravery award, and it was Avec Palme (‘with palm’).
France awarded 214 Croix de Guerre medals to Australians in World War I, but only two were Avec Palme.
Lt McCarthy well and truly earned his Victoria Cross on August 23, 1918, at Madame Wood.
An attack was being held up by several well-posted machine gun posts.
He dashed across an open area into a disused trench and tunnelled a hole into the machine gun post, killing the two men who were firing.
After crawling through the hole he charged down the trench.
He inflicted more casualties with grenades and shot two German officers with his revolver.
After covering 700 yards in the trench he established contact with the Lancashire Fusiliers.
He had captured five machine gun posts, killed 20 of the enemy and took 50 prisoners.
The prisoners Lt McCarthy had taken bore him back to his lines on their shoulders.
The recommendation for a VC was signed by Australia’s greatest soldier Sir John Monash.
He won a second Croix de Guerre for his amazing exploits in Madame Wood.
His British award was described as a Super VC.
In January, 1919, Lt McCarthy married Florence Norville from Somerset and he returned to Australia in January, 1920, a month ahead of his wife.
The couple moved to Melbourne in 1926 and he became a commercial traveller with Sunshine Harvester losing the job in 1934 because of the Depression.
From 1935 he worked for 34 years with Trustees, Executors & Agents Co.
The couple had one son, also named Lawrence, who was killed on active service in Bougainville in 1945.
Lt McCarthy died on May 25, 1975, aged 83 at the Repatriation General Hospital in Heidelberg.
His widow lived to 103.
Mr O’Connor urged people never to forget Lt McCarthy’s name or the numbers five, 20, 50 and 700 – five machine guns, 20 killed, 50 prisoners and 700 yards of enemy trench.