Lewis MCGEE VC

Poppy

MCGEE, Lewis

Service Number: 456
Enlisted: 1 March 1916, Claremont, Tasmania
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 40th Infantry Battalion
Born: Campbell Town, Tasmania, 13 May 1888
Home Town: Avoca, Pyrenees, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Locomotive Engine Driver
Died: Killed in Action, Passchendaele Belgium, 12 October 1917, aged 29 years
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial
XX. D. 1.
Tree Plaque: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Avoca War Memorial, Keith Payne VC Memorial Park, North Bondi 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.

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Biography

"...Sergeant Lewis McGee VC 40th Battalion Australian Infantry of Avoca Tasmania, who was killed in action on 12 October 1917. An extract from The London Gazette No 30400, dated 23rd November 1917, records the following:- 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. Sgt McGee was subsequently awarded the VC for his outstanding bravery." - SOURCE (www.awm.gov.au)

 

"Lewis McGee (1888-1917), 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.

The 40th Battalion took part in the battle of Messines in June after which it joined in the 3rd battle of Ypres. From September conditions were appalling with soldiers battling in a 'sea of mud and water'. On 4 October the battalion was engaged in the attack on Broodseinde Ridge. McGee's platoon was 'suffering severely' from machine-gun fire coming from a German pill-box. Single-handed, McGee rushed the post across open ground armed only with a revolver and, descending upon the garrison, shot some of its crew and captured the rest. His action enabled the advance to proceed. Afterwards he reorganized the remains of his platoon and was 'foremost' in the rest of the advance. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his 'coolness and bravery', but the decoration was posthumous for on 12 October he had been killed in the fighting at Passchendaele. He was buried there in Tyne Cot cemetery..." - READ MORE SOURCE (adb.anu.edu.au)

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