Arthur Percy SULLIVAN VC

Badge Number: 77174, Sub Branch: Orroroo
77174

SULLIVAN, Arthur Percy

Service Numbers: 56133, 133003
Enlisted: 27 April 1918, Port Pirie, South Australia
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 45th Battalion Royal Fusiliers
Born: Prospect, South Australia, 27 November 1896
Home Town: Crystal Brook, Port Pirie City and Dists, South Australia
Schooling: Crystal Brook Public School and Gladstone High School, South Australia
Occupation: Bank teller
Died: Accidental (fractured skull), Wellington, England, 9 April 1937, aged 40 years
Cemetery: Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium, NSW
Tree 267A
Memorials: Adelaide 150 Jubilee Commemorative Pavement Plaques - WW1 VC Recipients, Adelaide National Australia Bank WW1 Honour Board, Adelaide Torrens Training Depot, Crystal Brook District WW1 Roll of Honour, Crystal Brook Memorial Plaque for Arthur Percy Sullivan VC, Gladstone High School WW1 Roll of Honor, Gladstone High School WW1 Roll of Honor, Keith Payne VC Memorial Park, Maitland War Memorial, North Bondi War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

27 Apr 1918: Enlisted AIF WW1, Port Pirie, South Australia
23 Jul 1918: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 56133, 1st to 6th (SA) Reinforcements, HMAT Marathon, Melbourne
23 Jul 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 56133, 1st to 6th (SA) Reinforcements, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
12 Jun 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 56133
13 Jun 1919: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 133003, 45th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, North Russia 1918-19
10 Aug 1919: Honoured Victoria Cross, North Russia 1918-19, For action at Dvins River, south of Archangel, north Russia whilst serving with 45 Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, Sadlier Jackson's Brigade as a Corporal

Sullivan, Arthur Percy (1896–1937) - by Anthony Staunton

Arthur Percy Sullivan (1896-1937), soldier and banker, was born on 27 November 1896 at Prospect, Adelaide, son of Arthur Monks Sullivan, storekeeper, and his wife Eliza, née Dobbs. Educated at Crystal Brook Public School and Gladstone High School, he joined the National Bank of Australasia at Gladstone in 1913 and was transferred to Broken Hill, New South Wales, and then to Maitland, South Australia.

Sullivan enlisted as a private in the Australian Imperial Force on 27 April 1918 and embarked in July as a general reinforcement. He transferred on 5 October to the artillery, but the war was over before he was allotted to a unit in France. Promoted acting corporal on 23 May 1919, he joined the British North Russia Relief Force five days later and was officially discharged from the A.I.F. on 12 June. The relief force landed at Archangel in June and July, and relieved most of the original 1918 expeditionary force which included nine A.I.F. members. Sullivan was with the 45th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, in L. W. de V. Sadleir-Jackson's brigade which moved 150 miles (241 km) down the Dvina River.

On 10 August the British attacked on the Dvina front in order to demoralize and disorganize the Bolsheviks and so give time for an unhindered evacuation of North Russia. During the attack, which was a complete success with minimal British casualties, Sullivan won the Victoria Cross. His unit was cut off and, while fighting their way back to their lines, an officer and three men fell from a narrow plank into a deep swamp on the Sheika River. Without hesitation and under intense fire, Sullivan jumped into the water and rescued all four, bringing them out singly. The evacuation was completed by late September and the relief force was demobilized in England. Sullivan left for Australia on 1 November without waiting to be decorated by the King. He was presented with the V.C. in Adelaide in April 1920 during the tour of the Prince of Wales who smiled and said to Sullivan: 'Aren't you the man who ran away from father?'

Known as the 'Shy V.C.', Sullivan was a popular personality. At Fairfield, Melbourne, he married Dorothy Frances Veale with Anglican rites on 5 December 1928; they were to have three children, including twins. After the war Sullivan had rejoined the National Bank and in 1929 moved to its Sydney office; in July 1934 he was appointed manager of the Casino branch. He joined the Australian contingent to the coronation of King George VI and took with him the ashes of British V.C. winner Sergeant Arthur Evans who had died in Australia. On 9 April 1937, eleven days after handing over these remains, Sullivan died when he accidentally slipped and struck his head against a kerb in Birdcage Walk near Wellington Barracks, London. After a military funeral, his ashes were returned to Australia and placed in the Northern Suburbs crematorium, Sydney. In 1939 a memorial plaque was erected on the gates of Wellington Barracks. His wife died in 1980, leaving his V.C. to the Australian War Memorial where it is displayed in the Hall of Valour.


Published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990.
Select Bibliography

L. Wigmore (ed), They Dared Mightily, second ed revised and condensed by J. Williams and A. Staunton (Canb, 1986)
Reveille (Sydney), July 1966, p 11
Defence Force Journal, no 22, May-June 1980, p 31
Advertiser (Adelaide), 1, 2 Oct 1919
Times (London), 10, 12, 14 Apr 1937
Age (Melbourne), 30 July 1980
Canberra Times, 13 Feb 1980
News (Adelaide), 4 May 1988
Lummis, V.C. and G.C. files (Military Historical Society, London).

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Victoria Cross Citation - 10th August 1919

‘For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on the 10th August, 1919, at the Sheika River, North Russia. The platoon to which he belonged, after fighting a rearguard covering action, had to cross the river by means of a narrow plank, and during the passage an officer and three men fell into a deep swamp. Without hesitation, under intense fire, Corporal Sullivan jumped into the river and rescued all four, bring them out singly. But for this gallant action his comrades would have, undoubtedly, been drowned. It was a splendid example of heroism, as all ranks were on the point of exhaustion, and the enemy less than 100 yards distant.’

Awarded 29th September 1919

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Biography contributed by St Francis de Sales College

Arthur Percy Sullivan

Arthur Percy Sullivan, son of Arthur Monks Sullivan and his wife Eliza née Dobbs, was born on the 27 of November 1896 at Prospect in Adelaide. Arthur was educated at Crystal Brook Public School and Gladstone High School. In 1913, he then went on to join the National Bank of Australasia at Gladstone. He was transferred to Broken Hill in New South Wales and later transferred again to Maitland in South Australia. (WikiVisually (wikivisually.com), 2019)

On the 27 of April 1918, A.P. Sullivan enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force as a Private. He then embarked as a General Reinforcement in July. On the 5th of October, Sullivan was transferred to the Artillery. Before he was allotted to a unit in France, the war had already ended. On the 23rd of May 1919, he was promoted to Acting Corporal and 5 days later, Sullivan joined the British North Russia Relief Force. He was officially discharged from the Australian Imperial Force on the 12th of June that year. In June and July, the Relief Force landed at Archangel to replace most of the original expeditionary force from 1918 including nine A.I.F. members. Sullivan was part of the 45th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, in L. W. de V. Sadleir-Jackson's Brigade. (WikiVisually (wikivisually.com), 2019)

On the 10th of August, the British fought on the Dvina Front to disorganise the Bolsheviks so that they could easily evacuate North Russia. Sullivan’s unit was cut off so they had to fight their way back to their lines. They had to cross a deep swamp on the Sheika River by walking on a narrow plank. Whilst in the process, an officer and three other men fell from the plank into the swamp. While they were under intense fire, Sullivan jumped into the swamp without hesitation but extreme determination to rescue them. Sullivan retrieved all four men from the swamp individually. This heroic action won Sullivan the Victoria Cross. The attack was a complete success with minimal British casualties; the evacuation was completed by late September and the relief force was demobilised in England. Sullivan didn’t wait to be decorated by the King; instead, he left for Australia on the 1st of November. In April 1920, he was presented with the Victoria Cross in Adelaide. (Memorial (www.awm.gov.au), 2019)

From then on, Sullivan was known as the ‘Shy V.C.’. He married Dorothy Frances Veale on the 5th of December 1928 at Fairfield, Melbourne. They had three children, including twins. Sullivan re-joined the National Bank which moved its office to Sydney in 1929; he was appointed 'manager' of the Casino branch in July 1934. He attended the coronation of King George VI as a member of the Australian contingent; bringing with him the ashes of Sergeant Arthur Evans, British V.C. winner who died in Australia. On the 9th of April 1937, eleven days after handing over Evans’ ashes, Sullivan accidentally slipped on the kerb in Birdcage Walk near Wellington Barracks in London and hit his head hard on the pavement; resulting in a fractured skull. Due to the severe injury, Sullivan died shortly after the accident. Sullivan’s ashes were returned to Australia after a military funeral and placed in the Northern Suburbs Crematorium in Sydney. In 1939, a memorial plaque was placed near the gates of Wellington Barracks, and in 2015 a memorial was unveiled at Crystal Brook. His wife died in 1980, leaving his V.C. to the Australian War Memorial where it is displayed in the Hall of Valour (Luscombe (www.britishempire.co.uk), 2019).

 

Bibliography:

GOV.UK. (2019). WW1 Australian VC recipient Arthur Percy Sullivan. [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/case-studies/ww1-australian-vc-recipient-arthur-percy-sullivan (www.gov.uk)  [Accessed 14 May 2019].

WikiVisually. (2019). Arthur Sullivan (Australian soldier). [online] Available at: https://wikivisually.com/wiki/Arthur_Sullivan_%28Australian_soldier%29 (wikivisually.com)  [Accessed 14 May 2019].

Luscombe, S. (2019). Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). [online] Britishempire.co.uk. Available at: https://www.britishempire.co.uk/forces/armyunits/britishinfantry/fusiliersarthursullivan.htm (www.britishempire.co.uk)  [Accessed 14 May 2019].

Memorial, T. (2019). Victoria Cross: Corporal A P Sullivan, 45 Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. [online] Awm.gov.au. Available at: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C339998 (www.awm.gov.au)  [Accessed 14 May 2019].

Memorial, T. (2019). Corporal Arthur Percy Sullivan. [online] Awm.gov.au. Available at: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P10676829 (www.awm.gov.au)  [Accessed 14 May 2019].

 

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Biography contributed by Robert Kearney

Sullivan, Arthur Percy (1896–1937)
by Anthony Staunton

Arthur Percy Sullivan, soldier and banker, was born on 27 November 1896 at Prospect, Adelaide, son of Arthur Monks Sullivan, storekeeper, and his wife Eliza, née Dobbs. Educated at Crystal Brook Public School and Gladstone High School, he joined the National Bank of Australasia at Gladstone in 1913 and was transferred to Broken Hill, New South Wales, and then to Maitland, South Australia.

Sullivan enlisted as a private in the Australian Imperial Force on 27 April 1918 and embarked in July as a general reinforcement. He transferred on 5 October to the artillery, but the war was over before he was allotted to a unit in France. Promoted acting corporal on 23 May 1919, he joined the British North Russia Relief Force five days later and was officially discharged from the A.I.F. on 12 June. The relief force landed at Archangel in June and July, and relieved most of the original 1918 expeditionary force which included nine A.I.F. members. Sullivan was with the 45th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, in L. W. de V. Sadleir-Jackson's brigade which moved 150 miles (241 km) down the Dvina River.

On 10 August the British attacked on the Dvina front in order to demoralize and disorganize the Bolsheviks and so give time for an unhindered evacuation of North Russia. During the attack, which was a complete success with minimal British casualties, Sullivan won the Victoria Cross. His unit was cut off and, while fighting their way back to their lines, an officer and three men fell from a narrow plank into a deep swamp on the Sheika River. Without hesitation and under intense fire, Sullivan jumped into the water and rescued all four, bringing them out singly. The evacuation was completed by late September and the relief force was demobilized in England. Sullivan left for Australia on 1 November without waiting to be decorated by the King. He was presented with the V.C. in Adelaide in April 1920 during the tour of the Prince of Wales who smiled and said to Sullivan: 'Aren't you the man who ran away from father?'

Read More - https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/sullivan-arthur-percy-8712 (adb.anu.edu.au)

 

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