David Emmett COYNE AM

COYNE, David Emmett

Service Number: 3347
Enlisted: 25 January 1916, Rockhampton, Queensland
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 31st Infantry Battalion
Born: Marian, Queensland, Australia, 14 March 1896
Home Town: Marian, Mackay, Queensland
Schooling: Marian State School, Queensland, Australia
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Grenade explosion - saved his men, Vaire-sous-Corbie, Vignacourt, France, 15 May 1918, aged 22 years
Cemetery: Vignacourt British Cemetery
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Mackay Cenotaph, Mackay Old Town Hall Honour Roll, Marian Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

25 Jan 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 3347, Rockhampton, Queensland
4 May 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 3347, 31st Infantry Battalion
4 May 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 3347, 31st Infantry Battalion, HMAT Seang Choon, Brisbane
15 May 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, 3347, 31st Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From François Berthout, Australia and NZ in WWI

Today, to honor his memory, I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Sergeant number 3347 David Emmett Coyne who fought in the 31st Australian Infantry Battalion and who died to save the lives of his comrades 102 years ago, on May 15 1918 at the age of 22 on the Somme front

David Emmett Coyne was born on March 14, 1896 in Ballinrush near Mackay, Queensland and was the eighth child of David and Annie Hughes Coyne, of Marian, Mackay, Queensland. He was educated at Marian State School and then worked with his father as a farmer

Coyne enlisted as a private in the Australian Imperial Force on January 25, 1916 and went into training at Fraser's Hill Camp, Brisbane. While there he showed considerable athletic prowess and figured in an incident which was perhaps a porter of the selfless act which resulted in his death two years later. After the horses of an express wagon had bolted, endangering several soldiers' lives, Coyne leapt on to the back of one of the horses and managed to bring the wagon to a halt. He embarked for France with reinforcements in May and on 24 December was taken on strength with the 31st Battalion. His unit spent the winter of 1916-17 on the Somme engaged in raiding and patrol work, then in March took part in the advance on Bapaume. On April 21, 1917 he was promoted lance corporal and for the next six months was absent from his unit qualifying as a bombing instructor and serving temporarily with the 67th Battalion. He was promoted sergeant in June and rejoined the 31st Battalion in October.

From November 1917 until March 1918 the battalion served in Flanders in the Messines-Wytschaete sector, then returned to the Somme. On the night of 15 May, while in the line at Vaire-sous-Corbie,Somme, Coyne was testing some Mills grenades which he believed had been affected by damp. He threw one of them but it rebounded off the parapet and fell into the trench in which he and several others were standing. Ordering his men out, he tried to find the grenade in the darkness, then, realizing that his companions were not clear, deliberately threw himself over the grenade's approximate position and received over twenty wounds when it exploded. His wounds proved worse than expected and he died within hours. He was posthumously awarded the Albert Medal in Gold, the highest class of that decoration.He was the only member of the A.I.F. to gain such a distinction.

Today, David Emmett Coyne rests in peace with his friends and brothers in arms at Vignacourt British Cemetery, Somme

Thank you David, you who courageously answered the call of duty, for the king, for your country, for your family and friends, you fought bravely here, in the Somme, you gave and sacrificed your life to save that of your friends during this tragic night of May 15, 1918, there is no greater sacrifice than to give one's life to save those of others and it is with great respect that we bow to salute your sacrifice , your courage, we will never forget what you did for your comrades but also for France, for a better world and we will always be grateful to you Sir, we will never forget and we will always keep your memories in our hearts for pass it on to future generations so that they will know what so many courageous men have sacrificed for our tomorrow, for a peaceful future.🌺



"...3347 Private David Emmett Coyne, 31st Battalion. A farmer from Mackay, Qld prior to enlistment, Pte Coyne embarked with the 7th Reinforcements from Brisbane on HMAT Seang Choon on 4 April 1916. Following short periods with the 47th and 67th Battalions, he was transferred back to the 31st Battalion with the rank of Sergeant. Whilst testing bombs, he accidently dropped one into a trench. After warning the occupants, he threw himself onto the bomb to protect the others and undoubtedly saved several lives. He sustained multiple wounds and succumbed to these wounds on 15 May 1918, aged 22. For this action he was posthumously awarded the Albert Medal (Gold), the only member of the 1st AIF to be so honoured. He was interred in the Vignacourt British Cemetery, France." - SOURCE (www.awm.gov.au)