John DISTANT MM+Bar

DISTANT, John

Service Numbers: 316, Q50572
Enlisted: 31 December 1915, Brisbane, Queensland
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 102 Convalescent Depot
Born: Croydon, England, 9 March 1885
Home Town: Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Accidental drowning, Mount Isa, Queensland, 25 March 1948, aged 63 years
Cemetery: Mount Isa Cemetery, Qld
Plot: Grave #477
Memorials:
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World War 1 Service

31 Dec 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 316, Brisbane, Queensland
5 Jun 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 316, 42nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Borda, Sydney
5 Jun 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 316, 42nd Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
23 Aug 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 11th Light Trench Mortar Battery
25 Mar 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 11th Light Trench Mortar Battery
19 Jun 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 11th Light Trench Mortar Battery
31 Jul 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 316, 11th Light Trench Mortar Battery, Third Ypres, GSW (left hand & scalp)
14 Dec 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Sergeant, 11th Light Trench Mortar Battery
1 Sep 1918: Wounded AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 316, 11th Light Trench Mortar Battery, Mont St Quentin / Peronne, GSW (left elbow slight)
21 Oct 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 316, 11th Light Trench Mortar Battery, Cessation of hostilities

World War 2 Service

27 Sep 1940: Enlisted Citizen Military Forces (CMF) / Militia - WW2, Private, SN Q50572, Gaythorne, Queensland
28 Sep 1940: Involvement Citizen Military Forces (CMF) / Militia - WW2, Private, SN Q50572
26 Feb 1947: Discharged Citizen Military Forces (CMF) / Militia - WW2, Sergeant, SN Q50572, 102 Convalescent Depot

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Biography contributed by Paul Trevor

Brother of 65740 Pte. Harry Distant (/explore/people/242923) who returned to Australia from active service on 23 September 1919.

Awarded the Military Medal (www.awm.gov.au)

'On the morning of the 1st of August 1917, West of Warnston, carry the attack on enemy positions, this NCO was in command of a LTMB Detachment supporting the advance from the outset the emplacement was subjected to a concentrated artillery bombardment, but through persistent energy and personal disregard for danger he kept his mortars in action throughout the operation. On one occasion a bursting shell scattered his crew, though wounded himself he assembled his men and carried on remaining at his post until he was again severely wounded.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 9 Date: 24 January 1918

Awarded Bar to Military Medal (www.awm.gov.au)

'For continuous good service and devotion to duty. Sergeant DISTANT has done excellent work since the formation of the Unit and on many occasions situations have arisen which have thrown a great amount of responsibility on to this Non Commissioned Officer. On 4th July, 1918, during operations at HAMEL, both Section Officers became casualties and Sergeant DISTANT immediately took charge of the four MORTARS. He organised an S.O.S. Line and it was entirely due to his good management that the Trench Mortars greatly assisted in repelling the enemy counter-attacks. He also distinguished himself during the operations of 8th August, 1918, 22nd August and 1st September, 1918.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 75 Date: 17 June 1919 

For the conspicuous service rendered by Sgt. John Distant, he was initially to be awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM). (www.awm.gov.au)This was later upgraded to the Bar for the Military Medal that he had been previously awarded.

'Mount Isa RSL to recognise unmarked grave of 'war hero' Sergeant John Distant

A ceremony will be held in a north-west Queensland cemetery this weekend to formally recognise the unmarked grave of a "local war hero". Stephen Carrington from the Mount Isa RSL said Sergeant John Distant was buried in the city's cemetery sometime after World War II but, for some reason, was never given a proper headstone.

He said the Sergeant's family contacted the RSL earlier year this year to see if something could be done and it quickly agreed to help. "Any serviceman, or woman, irrelevant of what medals they've won, does not deserve to lie in an unmarked grave," he said. "It's just that John Distant was a dual military medal recipient and if Mount Isa can claim him as our own war hero ... yes ... so he deserves a good grave. "He's an MM and Bar, which means a military medal recipient twice." He received both military medals in World War I for courage under fire on two separate occasions. "He then joined again in World War II to do it all again and moved to Mount Isa looking for work and unfortunately drowned in the river. "Why he was buried without a headstone we'll never know.' from ABC News On-line 30 Oct 2015 (www.abc.net.au)

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