20610, Lieutenant John James Dwyer VC
4th Machine Gun Battalion AIF
Awarded Victoria Cross – 7th March, 1918
‘For most conspicuous bravery when in attack. Sergeant Dwyerr, in charge of a Vickers machine gun, went forward with the first wave of the brigade. On reaching the final objective, this non-commissioned officer rushed his gun forrward in advance of the captured position in order to obtain a commanding spot. Whilst advancing, he noticed an enemy machine gun firing on the troops on our right flank, and causing casualties. Unhesitatingly, he rushed his gun forward to within 30 yards of the enemy gun, and fired point blank at it, putting it out of action, and killing the gun crrew. He then seized the gun and, totally ignoring the snipers from the rear of the enemy position carried it back across the shell swept ground to our front line, and established both it and his Vickers gun on the right flank of our brigade. Sergeant Dwyer commanded these guns with great coolness, and, when the enemy counter attacked our positions, he rendered great assistance in repulsing them. On the following day, when the position was heavily shelled, this non-commissioned officer took up successive positions. On one occasion, his Vickers gun was blown up by shell fire,but he conducted his gun team back to Headquarters through the enemy barrage, secured one of the reserve guns, and rushed it back to our position in the shortest possible time. During the whole of the attack, his contempt of danger, cheerfulness, and courage, raised the spirits of all who were in his sector of the line.’
Sgt Dwyer (left) outside Buckingham Palace, London on the day of his investiture with the Victoria Cross. Sgt Dwyer was awarded the Victoria Cross, aged 29, during the Third Battle of Ypres. Sgt Dwyer was born in 1890 at Port Cygnet, Tasmania and volunteered for military service on outbreak of war in 1914.
He served with 15th Battalion at Gallipoli in 1915 before transferring to the Machine Gun Company and serving on Western Front. Sgt Dwyer ended the war as a commissioned officer, returning to Tasmania, Australia in 1918 where he opened a sawmill.
He went on develop a career in politics, being elected to the Tasmanian Assembly in 1931, serving as Speaker in the Tasmanian Parliament from 1942 to 1948 and then as Minister of Agriculture and Deputy Prime Minister in the Government of Tasmania from 1948 until his death in 1962.