MCGEE, Lewis

Service Number: 456
Enlisted: 1 March 1916, Claremont, Tasmania
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 40th Infantry Battalion
Born: Campbell Town, Tasmania, Australia, 13 May 1888
Home Town: Avoca, Northern Midlands, Tasmania
Schooling: Tasmania, Australia
Occupation: Locomotive Engine Driver
Died: Killed in Action, Belgium, 12 October 1917, aged 29 years
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial
XX. D. 1., Tyne Cot Cemetery, Passchendaele, Flanders, Belgium
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Avoca War Memorial, Keith Payne VC Memorial Park, North Bondi War Memorial, Ross War Memorial, Winchelsea WWI Memorial
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World War 1 Service

1 Mar 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 456, Claremont, Tasmania
1 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 456, 40th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
1 Jul 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 456, 40th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Berrima, Hobart
12 Oct 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 456, 40th Infantry Battalion, 1st Passchendaele
12 Oct 1917: Honoured Victoria Cross, 1st Passchendaele, For most conspicuous bravery when, in the advance to the final objective, Sgt McGee led his platoon with great dash and bravery, though strongly opposed, and under heavy shell fire. His platoon was suffering severely and the advance of the Company was stopped by machine gun fire from a `Pill-box' post. Single handed Sgt McGee rushed the post armed only with a revolver. He shot some of the crew and captured the rest, and thus enabled the advance to proceed. He reorganised the remnants of his platoon and was foremost in the remainder of the advance, and during consolidation of the position he did splendid work. This Non Commissioned Officer's coolness and bravery were conspicuous and contributed largely to the success of the Company's operations.

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

Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From Paul Simadas, a family perspective

Sgt Lewis McGee VC

“Eileen Rose Bailey”, a valiant Australian and woman of the Great War!

As the Great War commenced, this young woman married a 27 year old engine driver serving with the Tasmania Railways. It was the 15th of November 1914. The following year the couple were blessed with the birth of a little girl, Nada.

The war was to have a profound and tragic affect on Eileen and her family.

On the 1st of March 1916 her husband, Lewis, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. A pre-embarkation family photograph was taken of Eileen, Lewis and little Nada. Eileen and Nada are in their Sunday best, and Lewis in his brand-new uniform as a Private in the 40th (Tasmanian) Battalion AIF.

On the 1st of July Lewis departed for France. The family would never again be together. In October 1917, Eileen received official notification that her husband Sergeant Lewis McGee had been killed in action.

A very unexpected piece of news soon followed. Her husband had been posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for valour.

The following year, Eileen was presented with her late husband's Victoria Cross by the Governor-General of Australia, Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson, at an investiture ceremony in Launceston's York Park in October 1918.

Additionally, Eileen McGee was later officially presented with a German Iron Cross that her husband had captured from a German officer at Broodseinde. This medal had been enclosed in a letter of condolence written to her by his superior officer in the 40th Battalion.

Eileen appears on Lewis’s AIF documentation as his spouse (on enlistment), as beneficiary (in his will), and as legatee (as his pension dependant).
In war, all families face bitter trials and tribulations. None so more than women like Eileen and her daughter Nada. Lest we Forget.


Biography contributed by Robert Kearney

McGee, Lewis (1888–1917)
by Quentin Beresford

Lewis McGee, railway engine driver and soldier, was born on 13 May 1888 at Campbell Town, Tasmania, son of John McGee, labourer and later farmer, and his wife Mary, née Green. McGee left for posterity virtually no record of his pre-war days. He married Eileen Rose Bailey at Avoca on 15 November 1914. When he enlisted in the 40th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, on 1 March 1916 he was living at Avoca and was employed by the Tasmanian Department of Railways as an engine driver.

The 40th Battalion, known as the 'Fighting Fortieth', was raised as a Tasmanian unit, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel J. E. C. Lord, to encourage recruitment in that State. Soldiers attached to it were trained at the Claremont military camp near Hobart before sailing for England and eventually the French-Belgian border, which they reached on 24 November 1916. McGee quickly developed a reputation as a reliable and fearless soldier. He had been promoted lance corporal only twenty-two days after enlistment and on 4 December, when the battalion was operating near Armentières, he rose to corporal; on 12 January 1917 he was promoted sergeant.

Read more - https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mcgee-lewis-7355 (adb.anu.edu.au)