Victor Leslie LANCASTER DCM

Poppy

LANCASTER, Victor Leslie

Service Number: 2085
Enlisted: 11 September 1915, Newcastle, New South Wales
Last Rank: Lance Corporal
Last Unit: 30th Infantry Battalion
Born: Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, 1896
Home Town: Camperdown, Inner West, New South Wales
Schooling: Wedderburn State School, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Dairy hand
Died: Bomb wound to face, Morlancourt, France, 23 June 1918
Cemetery: Vignacourt British Cemetery
Vignacourt British Cemetery (Plot IV, Row A, Grave No. 8), France Inscription: "Young, strong and brave, His life he gave, That we may live in peace"
Tree Plaque: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour
Show Relationships

World War 1 Service

11 Sep 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2085, Newcastle, New South Wales
16 Feb 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2085, 30th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
16 Feb 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 2085, 30th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ballarat, Sydney
22 Jun 1918: Honoured Distinguished Conduct Medal, "Peaceful Penetration - Low-Cost, High-Gain Tactics on the Western Front", At Morlancourt
23 Jun 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 2085, 30th Infantry Battalion

Help us honour Victor Leslie Lancaster's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by John Edwards

"The Heroism of Lance-Corp. Lancaster.

Lance-Corporal Lancaster was in charge of a Lewis gun during a raid on the enemy lines and did splendid work in the face of galling fire. A bomb burst in his face, blowing away the lower portion; but, although he was unable to speak, he stuck to his gun and covered the return of the raiders. When loss of blood compelled Lancaster to retire, he handed the gun to his No. 2, but refused to allow any of his team to assist him to return to our lines. Lt.-Col. Clark, commanding the 30th Battalion, wrote of Lancaster in the highest terms. The late Lance-Corporal was recommended for a V.C., but was awarded a D.C.M. instead." - from the Sydney Sunday Times 29 Sep 1918 (nla.gov.au)

Read more...

Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From François Berthout, Australia and NZ in WWI

Today, it is with a heart full of gratitude and admiration that I want to pay a very respectful tribute to the Lance Corporal number 2085 Victor Leslie Lancaster who fought in the 30th Australian Infantry Battalion and who died of his wounds 102 years ago ,on June 23, 1918 at the age of 22 on the Somme front.

Victor Leslie Lancaster was born in 1896 in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia and was the son of Charles Dunn and Martha Lancaster.before the Lancasters moved to the Campbelltown area. He grew up in the area and attended school in Wedderburn. After his father passed away, Victor’s mother, Martha, relocated the family. They settled in Camperdown with her new husband, Charles Dunn. When the war broke out, Victor was living with his family at Bristol on Salisbury Street in Camperdown, and working as a dairy hand. Both Victor and his older brother, Horace, decided to join the AIF together. They enlisted in Newcastle on the 11th of September 1915, when Victor was 21 years old. They were both posted to the 30th Battalion. Victor was then sent overseas for war service on the 16th of February 1916, however, his brother stayed behind in camp due to illness. Victor was shipped out from Sydney aboard the HMAT Ballarat and arrived in Suez, Egypt in March.

Victor was marched out to join the 30th Battalion on the 1st of April at Ferry Post. The 30th Battalion was then assigned to the 5th Division, and he departed Alexandria for the Western Front in June. Shortly after arriving in France, the 5th Division were mustered for an attack. On the 19th of July, they confronted the Germans at Fromelles. The attack was designed to straighten Sugarloaf Salient and occupy German reserves from the Somme. The battle devastated the Division as the men became stuck in No Man’s Land pinned down by enfilading fire. The 30th Battalion then spent the remainder of 1916 in and out of the lines before enduring the bitter winter of 1916-1917. During this period, Victor had been charged with numerous offenses, including failing to salute an officer and being absent from a Tattoo Roll. Despite this, Victor was promoted to Lance Corporal in the field on the 1st of April 1917, although further charges saw him lose his rank in July. However, Victor proved himself to be a capable soldier and inspiration to his mates and was again promoted to Lance Corporal on the 1st of January 1918. In March, the Allies faced the German Spring Offensive. Victor and his unit helped to halt the German advance in April. They spent the next few months creeping towards the Germans as they withdrew, using small tactical incursions. On the 10th of June, Victor’s unit captured Morlancourt. Then on the night of 22 / 23rd of June, having consolidated their new position, he participated in a night raid on the opposing German trenches. Victor was in charge of the lewis gun covering the left flank of the attack. The Germans began firing back and throwing grenades. One grenade was thrown towards Victor’s position. The blast blew up in his face and shot away the lower right part of his jaw. The wound was serious; he was bleeding heavily, could not speak and was in deep shock. Despite his horrific wound, he kept firing at the Germans, covering the flank of his team. As the Australian troops returned to their lines, Victor laid down covering fire protecting their retreat and those in the rescuing party. He continued to shield his mates until he was overcome by exhaustion and loss of blood. He then handed over his lewis gun to his No. 2 and walked back to the lines.

here is his citation for act of bravery:"Lance-Corporal Lancaster was in charge of a Lewis gun during a raid on the enemy lines and did splendid work in the face of galling fire. A bomb burst in his face, blowing away the lower portion; but, although he was unable to speak, he stuck to his gun and covered the return of the raiders. When loss of blood compelled Lancaster to retire, he handed the gun to his No. 2, but refused to allow any of his team to assist him to return to our lines. Lt.-Col. Clark, commanding the 30th Battalion, wrote of Lancaster in the highest terms. The late Lance-Corporal was recommended for a Victoria Cross, but was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal instead."(from the Sydney Sunday Times 29 September 1918).

After initial treatment at the Aid Post, Victor was quickly rushed to the 20th Casualty Clearing Station. Sadly, here, he died of his wounds on the 23rd of June 1918. He was then buried at Vignacourt British Cemetery, near the Somme River. His family was then informed of his death, which would have been especially difficult for Horace to hear, having been sent home for ill health. For Victor’s heroic actions under fire, he was recommended for the Victoria Cross by the Commander of the 30th Battalion. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Cross Medal in July 1918. It along with the rest of his belongings, were sent back to his family in Camperdown. His name is proudly recorded on a plaque at Dredge’s Cottage on Queen St in Campbelltown.

Thank you Victor, through your acts of bravery, through your courage and your devotion for Australia, for France, will always shine the Australian sun on your name on the soil of France, on the lands of the Somme , your memory will always shine with respect and strength through the flame of Remembrance, the Somme will always maintain your memory with gratitude and respect. You who have done your duty beyond bravery, fighting with heroism through a rain of bullets, you have stood up, protecting your comrades until your last limits and until your last breath to protect your friends and your comrades. today it is a young French man who stand in front of you with a lot of respect to say thank you, to tell you that the Australian people and the French people, united with me, will never forget you, we will never forget who you were and your courage, we will never forget your sacrifice,your name will live forever and never die. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember him, we will remember them.🌺

Read more...