Oliver Leonard SIMS MM & Bar

SIMS, Oliver Leonard

Service Number: 6900
Enlisted: 9 June 1915
Last Rank: Lance Corporal
Last Unit: 15th Field Ambulance
Born: Kensington, South Australia, 11 June 1896
Home Town: Kensington, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Engine Cleaner
Died: 1965, cause of death not yet discovered, place of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Adelaide South Australian Railways WW1 & WW2 Honour Boards, Norwood Primary School Honour Board
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World War 1 Service

9 Jun 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1
10 Nov 1915: Embarked Private, SN 6900, 8th Field Ambulance, HMAT Ascanius, Melbourne
10 Nov 1915: Involvement Private, SN 6900, 8th Field Ambulance
19 Jun 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 6900, 8th Field Ambulance, He embarked on the R.F.F leaving Alexandria, France heading to Marseilles.
12 Dec 1917: Honoured Military Medal, Originally recommended for a DCM on 28 Sept 1917- awarded MM. Was recommended for a Bar to the Military Medal in 3 October 1918 for outstanding bravery in the field over a 36 hour period.
22 Dec 1917: Discharged AIF WW1, SN 6900
9 Apr 1918: Wounded SN 6900, 15th Field Ambulance
27 Sep 1918: Promoted Lance Corporal, He was appointed a lance-corporal after initially being the rank of a private
27 Sep 1918: Promoted Lance Corporal, He was appointed a lance-corporal after initially being the rank of a private

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Biography contributed by Saint Ignatius' College

Early Life

Oliver Leonard Sims was born in 1896 in Kensington, Adelaide. Oliver grew up in Norwood with his mother Jessie Sims. He attended school and before enlisting for the war his occupation was an engine cleaner.

As the war began there was a great craze and rush to enlist. Australians thought joining the war would be heroic and exciting. Oliver enlisted on the 9th June 1915, in Keswick as the rank of a private. At the time he was 19 years of age, 5.75 feet tall, skinny with a fair complexion.


Oliver embarked aboard the H Brown and Base ship from Australia, on the 10th November 1915, before arriving in Egypt for a training camp. Upon arrival in Egypt, Oliver’s squad the 8th field ambulance was formed. The 8th field ambulance provided second line evacuation from regimental aid-posts.

The 8th field ambulance took part in many battles across Belgium and France. Their first real battle began in the “nursery Sector” near Fleurbaix and Fromelles. The battle overwhelmed the medical forces and many men from the medical divisions were killed trying to retrieve casualties. The field ambulance’s main role was to retrieve the wounded soldiers and attend to them in the Casualty Clearing Station.

Oliver managed to get through the majority of the war rather unscathed. However, on three occasions he had to leave the frontline due to illness and injections. He was detatched from duty with prophylactic treatment on the 16th June 1917 returning soon after, he also left the field with sickness in October 1917 and was kept out of battle for two months. On the 9th April 1918 Oliver was wounded and was admitted to hospital where he stayed for only a short time.

During the latter stages of the war was Oliver was transferred to the 15th field ambulance as a Lance Corporal.  A lance-corporal was a non-commissioned officer, with a number of medical orderlies as a private. Coincidentally during this period of time he was awarded a medal for his bravery in the field after he retrieved wounded soldiers under constant gun fire and returned them ‘Wagon Loading Post’

Awards/ANZAC spirit

During the war Oliver displayed great valor and courage and was awarded four medals: The Military Medal and Bar, 1914-15 Star Medal, British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

The British war medal was instituted by King George V in 1919 and was awarded to those who had enlisted under the British or Imperial forces between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918. The medal was awarded to over 6.5 million soldiers.

The Star medal was created in 1918 and was awarded to those brave soldiers who had fought in theatres of war against the central powers between 5th August 1914 and the 31st December 1915. It was awarded to over 2 million soldiers.

The Victory Medal was created to celebrate the allied forces victory over the central powers. Each allied nation awarded a Victory Medal to their countrymen. To be eligible for the medal you had to participated in a theatre of war from 1914-18.

Along with those three medals, Oliver was awarded the Military and Bar to Military Medal. He was awarded the medal because on the 29th and 30th of September, 1918 for bravely carrying on under heavy gunfire for 36 hours. Through his bravery and courage, he was able to rescue many wounded Australian and American troops.

The ANZAC spirit is a series of characteristics Australian and New Zealand soldiers displayed during the war. The qualities that make up the ANZAC spirit are humour, endurance, courage, ingenuity and mate ship. The ANZAC spirit still lives on in Australian troopers today.

While serving for Australia, Oliver’s characteristics truly align with the ANZAC spirit. He exhibited courage, humour and most importantly mate ship. Twice Oliver led his squadron of soldiers out into the darkness of the battlefield in the hope of returning the wounded and fallen men to their families. Courage was also a strong characteristic for Oliver. Enlisting for the war took great courage as he knew how serious and dangerous it was going to be despite the initial excitement.

Post War

Oliver Leonard Sims returned to Australia on the 11th July 1919, him and the Australian soldiers were greeted by the public as war heroes. Oliver decided not to enlist for WWII and he lived the rest of his life peacefully with his wife Anne. He died in Hindmarsh, Adelaide in 1965 aged 69.