William Mathew CURREY VC

CURREY, William Mathew

Service Numbers: 1584, 1584A, N100173
Enlisted: 19 October 1916, Sydney, NSW
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 53rd Infantry Battalion
Born: Wallsend, New South Wales, Australia, 19 September 1895
Home Town: Leichhardt, Leichhardt, New South Wales
Schooling: Dudley and Plattsburg Public Schools, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation: Wire worker
Died: Natural causes, Bexley,New South Wales, Australia, 30 April 1948, aged 52 years
Cemetery: Woronora Memorial Park, Sutherland, New South Wales
Memorials: John Hamilton VC Pictorial Honour Roll, Keith Payne VC Memorial Park, Leichhardt War Memorial, North Bondi War Memorial, Wallsend Soldier's Memorial, Winchelsea WWI Memorial
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World War 1 Service

19 Oct 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 1584, Light Trench Mortar Batteries, Sydney, NSW
9 Nov 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 1584, Light Trench Mortar Batteries, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '4' embarkation_place: Sydney embarkation_ship: HMAT Benalla embarkation_ship_number: A24 public_note: ''
6 Feb 1917: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 53rd Infantry Battalion
26 Sep 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 1584, 53rd Infantry Battalion, Polygon Wood
1 Sep 1918: Honoured Victoria Cross, Mont St Quentin / Peronne
1 Sep 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 1584, 53rd Infantry Battalion, Mont St Quentin / Peronne
2 Apr 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, 1584A, 53rd Infantry Battalion

World War 2 Service

8 Jul 1940: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Sergeant, N100173
27 May 1941: Discharged Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Sergeant, N100173

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

Biography contributed by Robert Kearney

Currey, William Matthew (1895–1948)
by Chris Clark

William Matthew Currey, soldier and politician, was born on 19 September 1895 at Wallsend, New South Wales, son of William Robert Currey, labourer and later miner, and his wife Mary Ellen, née Lang. Educated at Dudley and Plattsburg Public schools, he moved to Leichhardt, Sydney, and found employment as a wireworker. After the outbreak of World War I he twice attempted to enlist without his parents' consent, giving a false age, but was discovered and discharged. He was accepted for the Australian Imperial Force on 9 October 1916 and posted to the 4th Light Trench-Mortar Battery, embarking for France in November. On 1 July 1917 he was transferred to the 53rd Battalion; later that year he fought at Polygon Wood and then returned to the Somme.

Private Currey was awarded the Victoria Cross for his part in the Australian attack at Péronne on 1 September 1918. The 53rd Battalion began taking heavy casualties early in the day, Currey's company in particular suffering from a 77 mm field-gun firing at very close range. Currey rushed forward under machine-gun fire, killed the whole crew and captured the weapon. When in mid-afternoon the battalion encountered intense fire from a strong point, he worked round the flank of the position and opened fire with a Lewis-gun before rushing the post, inflicting many casualties and dispersing the survivors. His courageous action enabled the battalion attack to proceed. At 3 a.m. next morning he volunteered to warn a company which had become isolated to withdraw: moving out into no man's land he stood up and called out to the company, the sound of his voice attracting a torrent of enemy fire. After three attempts, during which his respirator was struck and he was gassed, he finally contacted the exposed company which then safely retired.

Read more -  https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/currey-william-matthew-5852 (adb.anu.edu.au)


Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

Victoria Cross

'For most conspicuous bravery and daring in the attack on Peronne on the morning of 1st September, 1918. When the battalion was suffering heavy casualties from a 77mm field gun at very close range, Private Currey, without hesitation, rushed forward under intense machine gun fire and succeeded in capturing the gun single handed after killing the entire crew. Later, when the advance of the left flank was checked by an enemy strong point, Private Currey crept around the flank and engaged the post with a Lewis gun. Finally, he rushed the post single handed, causing many casualties. It was entirely owing to his gallant conduct that the situation was relieved and the advance enabled to continue. Subsequently he volunteered to carry orders for the withdrawal of an isolated company, and this he succeeded in doing despite shell and rifle fire, returning later with valuable information. Throughout the operations his striking example of coolness, determination, and utter disregard of danger had a most inspiring effect on his comrades, and his gallant work contributed largely to the success of the operations.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 61
Date: 23 May 1919