Victor Gillard DRIDAN

Poppy

DRIDAN, Victor Gillard

Service Number: Officer
Enlisted: 1 February 1915
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 50th Infantry Battalion
Born: Payneham, South Australia, 3 July 1895
Home Town: Mitcham, Mitcham, South Australia
Schooling: Glen Osmond Public School & Unley Continuation School
Occupation: Clerk
Died: Died of Wounds, Between Pozieres & Mouquet Farm, Somme, France, 16 August 1916, aged 21 years
Cemetery: Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension
(III. D. 3.) Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

1 Feb 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1
27 Oct 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, SN Officer, 10th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
27 Oct 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, SN Officer, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Benalla, Adelaide
23 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Pozières
12 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 50th Infantry Battalion, Pozières
Date unknown: Involvement 50th Infantry Battalion
Date unknown: Involvement 10th Infantry Battalion, Pozières

Military Cross Recommendation

Marked gallantry and coolness under heavy fire. Between the 12th. and 14th. August near MOUQUET FARM when severely wounded he continued to lead his Platoon until he collapsed, from loss of blood. (He has since died of his wound)


Note: *Victor Dirdan was n't awarded the Military Cross for this action.*

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Biography

The Story of Victor Gillard Dridan, or Vic as he was commonly known, is one of selflessness and bravery, which ultimately lead to him losing his life due to his wounds after completing a perilous journey to a dressing station during the Battle of Mouquet Farm. As a result of Vic Dridan dying of his wounds he became the first ever Officer in the 50th Battalion to be killed during World War One.

 

Victor Gillard Dridan was born on the 3rd of July 1895 to Mr and Mrs Joseph John and Susan Emma Dridan (nee Dall) at Mitcham in Adelaide, South Australia. He was educated at Glen Osmond Public and then later at Unley Continuation School. He was also an active member at Malvern Methodist Church and was acting as a teacher in the junior wing of the Sunday School there. Vic Dridan was also very interested in military matters and was part of the 78th (Adelaide Rifles) Cadets that formed part of the Citizens Military Force (CMF.) In this position in the cadets the held the rank of Lieutenant and when he enlisted in the AIF on the 15th of September 1915 he was granted the honorary rank of 2nd Lieutenant and allocated to the 11th Reinforcements of the 10th Battalion. 

After a brief period of forming the 11th reinforcements (which embarked when it was still slightly incomplete) and training in Adelaide, Dridan and the rest of the 11th Reinforcements of the 10th Battalion, embarked at Outer Harbour on HMAT Benalla (A24) on the 27th of October 1915. The reinforcements was commanded by 2nd Lieutenants Gore (later Captain in the 50th Battalion), Jamieson and finally also Dridan. After arriving in Egypt the 11th Reinforcements were transferred to the newly created 50th Battalion. This process was part of the AIF reorganisation of its units and involved the splitting the 1st Division and the 4th Brigade into the 4th and 5th Divisions (so that these divisions would have a core of experience from Gallipoli when they moved to the Western Front.) The gaps that were left in-between the splitting of the battalions were filled by fresh reinforcements arriving from Australia at the same time. Thus on the 26th of February 1916 at Serapeum 2nd Lieutenant Vic Dridan was transferred to the 50th Battalion. A little while later on the 1st of April 1916 Dridan was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and allocated to the position of Platoon Commander in D Company which was under the command of Captain Hancock. He would later be transferred to B Company under the command of Major Herbert. 

The 50th Battalion spent some more time training in Egypt for a while and then embarked at Alexandria crossing the Mediterranean Sea before arriving at Marseilles in Southern France. The 50th was then transported to Northern France and was rotated through the nursery section near Armentieres. His first action as part of the 50th Battalion was at Pozieres/ Mouquet Farm where after 5 weeks fighting Australian had suffered 23,000 casualties - it’s worst ever total in 5 weeks. The 50th Battalion's had been heavily involved in fighting at Mouquet Farm from the 12th of August to the 15th of August and it was replaced by another Australian Battalion on 16th of August. 

It was during this action on the night of the 13th/14th of August when he was advancing forward with Major Herbert and was caught in a German artillery barrage. Dridan was hit by an artillery shell and seriously wounded his right arm having it "practically blown off" from the elbow to wrist. He was determined, however, to continue on with the advance and it was only when he collapsed due to loss of blood that he was carried by several members of the Battalion further forward to the newly captured trench where a tourniquet was applied. Because of the heavy German artillery barrage, however, it was too dangerous to withdraw him and he was kept in the trench overnight. 2nd Lieutenant Mills sat with him all night to take care of his badly mangled arm and despite the injury he said he was "quite unconcerned" of the wound remaining "cheerful" and complaining "of no pain." 

Around lunch time the next day on the 15th of August several stretcher-bearers were detailed to take Lieutenant Dridan out of the trenches and back to the Dressing Station near Pozières. As the group neared the dressing station, which was too far behind the lines the team was hit by another shell blast. Out of the two stretcher-bearers Corporal Hisgrove was killed and Private Scott was wounded. Yet Dridan’s story doesn’t end there, as almost magically he sustained no injury due to the blast and managed to walk himself the rest of the distance to the dressing station. By the time he arrived there he was deeply fatigued, in deep shock and had lost an enormous amount of blood. He was almost immediately transferred to another dressing station at Warloy-Baillon and operated on as soon as possible. Due to his wounds, however, he never woke up from the operation to amputate the remnants of his arm on the 16th of August 1916. He was 21 years old and buried at Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension. Throughout the entire operation he showed bravery and was utterly selfless.  

Dridan was the first officer of the 50th Battalion to be killed in action and Major Jacob, the senior Major of the Battalion  wrote to Dridan's parents, saying "We are extremely proud of the example he set to all who came in contact with him before and after he received his fatal wound. We, his brother officers, feel his loss as a comrade and a most valuable member of our battalion very much, but there must be some consolation in the knowledge that he died a true hero."           

Medals Awarded:

1914/15: 2945

British War Medal: 22022

Victory Medal: 21947

Memorial Plaque and Scroll: 355956

 

Researched by Nathan Rohrlach from personal service papers, AWM Last Post Ceremony, official unit histories and Hurcombe's Hungry Half Hundred (Dr R R Freeman.)  

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