Arthur William CAVANAGH DCM

CAVANAGH, Arthur William

Service Numbers: 1096, 257444
Enlisted: 12 July 1915, Place of enlistment - Melbourne, Victoria
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 29th Infantry Battalion
Born: Horsham, Victoria, 15 April 1890
Home Town: Horsham, Wimmera, Victoria
Schooling: The Geelong College
Occupation: Station Manager
Died: Victoria, 7 February 1953, aged 62 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Springvale Garden of Remembrance & Crematorium, Victoria
Memorials: Geelong College WW1 Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

12 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 1096, Place of enlistment - Melbourne, Victoria
10 Nov 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 1096, 29th Infantry Battalion, Embarked on HMAT 'A11' Ascanius from Melbourne on 10th November 1915, disembarking Suez, Egypt in December 1915.
16 Jun 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 1096, 29th Infantry Battalion, Embarked on HMT Tunisian from Alexandria, Egypt on 16th June 1916, disembarking Marseilles, France on 23rd June 1916 to join British Expeditionary Force.
3 May 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 1096, 29th Infantry Battalion, Bullecourt (First)
22 Jul 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 29th Infantry Battalion, Prior to being promoted to Corporal, Lance Corporal Cavanagh had been promoted to various acting ranks -
  • 18th October 1916 - Acting Corporal (EDP)
  • 21st October 1916 - reverts back to Lance Corporal
  • 13th November 1916 - Acting Sergeant (EDP)
  • 30th November 1916 - reverts to Acting Corporal
  • 8th December 1916 - Acting Sergeant (EDP)
  • 13th March 1917 - reverts to Lance Corporal
  • 17 Sep 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 1096, 29th Infantry Battalion, Menin Road
    26 Sep 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 1096, 29th Infantry Battalion, Polygon Wood, Gun shot wound to abdomen and right leg, treated at 3rd Canadian Clearing Station, then 3rd Australian Field Ambulance before being transferred to England and admitted to 57th General Hospital and subsequently 1st Southern General Hospital, Birmingham.
    24 Jan 1918: Embarked AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 1096, 29th Infantry Battalion, Embarked for Australia on HMAT 'A63' Karoola from England on 24th January 1918, disembarking Melbourne on 10th March 1918.
    6 Feb 1918: Honoured Distinguished Conduct Medal, Polygon Wood, "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in an attack. When the advance to the second objective was held up, he organized and led a party against the enemy's position. Though wounded early in the attack, he remained at duty, and, single handed, rushed a concrete shelter, putting the whole garrison of twenty out of action, thus allowing the advance to continue. He remained with his men until after the final objective had been consolidated, and, by his courage and coolness, set a splendid example to all ranks."
    5 Sep 1918: Discharged AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 1096, 29th Infantry Battalion

    World War 2 Service

    Date unknown: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Pilot Officer, SN 257444

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    Biography contributed by John Lakey

    Citation for Gallantry

    1096 Corporal Arthur William CAVANAGH, 29th Battalion 'D' Company At POLYGON WOOD on 26th September, 1917, the advance from the first to the second objective was held up, and Cpt. W.H. THOMSON organised and led a party of 15, of whom Corporal CAVANAGH was one, against the enemy positions. Although wounded early in the attack, Corporal CAVANAGH remained at duty, and when the party was prevented from advancing by the garrison of one concrete shelter, he single-handed rushed the position, and with Mills Grenades either killed or wounded the whole of the enemy garrison of about 20. thus enabling the advance to continue. Cpl. CAVANAGH remained with the party until after the final objective had been taken and consolidated, and his bravery was much commented on by all those who saw his action. Recommendation: Distinguished Conduct Medal [DCM] Lieutenant Colonel Muir Purser C.O. 29th Battalion

     

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    Biography contributed by Daryl Jones

    CAVANAGH, Arthur William DCM (1891-1953)

    Arthur William Cavanagh was born in Horsham on 15 April 1891, the oldest son of William Arthur Cavanagh (Inspector of Schools) and Jane Gwendolen nee Jason. He was enrolled at Geelong College as a day student in 1906. His address at enrolment was Noble St, Geelong.

    During World War I he enlisted (No 1096) on 12 July 1915 and embarked for Egypt with the 29th Battalion on HMAT A11 Ascanius on 10 November. He then went to France where he was wounded necessitating his evacuation to an English hospital. On his return to France he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal at Polygon Wood late in September 1917, and gazetted 26 November. The citation read:
    'At Polygon Wood on 26 September 1917, the advance from the first to the second objective was held up, and Captain W H Thomson1 organised and led a party of fifteen, of whom Cpl Cavanagh was one, against the enemy positions. Although wounded early in the attack Cpl Cavanagh remained at duty, and when the party was prevented from advancing by the garrison of one concrete shelter, he single-handed rushed the position, and with Mills Grenades either killed or wounded the whole of the enemy garrison of about twenty, thus enabling the advance to continue. Cpl Cavanagh remained with the party until after the final objective had been taken and consolidated, and his bravery was much commented on by all those who saw his action.'

    Eric Cavanagh wrote of his brother’s actions at Polygon Wood:
    'He said they had just taken a pill box and had just sent forty prisoners back when a sniper got him in the groin and the bullet came out in the back, and as the Fritz barrage was pretty thick it was a couple of days before the stretcher bearers could get up to get him away. Then as he was going out he was unlucky enough to get another bullet in the other leg above the ankle.'

    Arthur's action that day was also described by Ron Austin in the unit history, Black and Gold:
    'Another member of C Company who displayed outstanding gallantry was Cpl Arthur Cavanagh, the battalion boxing champion, who commanded a Lewis gun section during the attack. Despite being wounded during the early stages of Thomson’s attack, Cavanagh rushed at a concrete pill box and threw in enough grenades to kill or wound the entire garrison of twenty Germans. In keeping with the athleticism of the man, Cavanagh refused medical treatment until such time as the enemy position was captured and consolidated.'

    Later he was gassed, which necessitated his repatriation to Australia on 24 January 1918. He was one of three brothers who served in the AIF, who were all awarded the DCM. His battalion’s battle honours were Somme 1916, Pozieres, Bapaume 1917, Bullecourt, Ypres 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Hamel, Amiens, Albert 1918, Mont St Quentin, Hindenburg Line, Beaurevoir, France and Flanders 1916-1918, Suvla, Gallipoli 1915-1916, Egypt 1915-1917.

    His two brothers, Eric Richard Cavanagh (1891-1976) and Brian Hugh Cavanagh (1894-1983) who also were awarded the DCM during World War I were educated at Geelong College.

    Arhur Cavanagh died in 1953.

    Source : The Geelong College - http://gnet.geelongcollege.vic.edu.au:8080/wiki/CAVANAGH-Arthur-William-1891-1953.ashx?HL=cavanagh

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