Medals of the Month - June 2021
The war medals of Lieutenant George Harold Turner, MC, 15th Field Company, Australian Engineers.
L-R: Military Cross, 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal.
1884. Born in the parish of Redfern NSW, son of Mary and William Turner.
1914. Enlisted at Sydney NSW in the Australian Imperial Force on 9 March.
Promoted to sergeant on 15 April.
Commissioned as a second lieutenant on 6 December.
1917. Detached to the British 4th Army Infantry School from 3 January to 11 February.
Promoted to lieutenant on 14 May.
Wounded by artillery fire on the night of 25/26 September in Polygon Wood, a woodland near the village of Zonnebeke east of Ypres (Ieper) in the province of West Flanders, Belgium. At the time, Lieutenant Turner was commanding No.3 Section of the 15th Field Company with one infantry officer and 50 other ranks attached and with orders to construct two strongpoints.
The blue arrow points marked on the trench map extract below indicate the locations of the two strongpoints. (Trench map extract by courtesy of McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada).
Recorded on 29 September as "Wounded in Action" on 26 September. On 30 September the record was amended to -Wounded and Missing- and on 19 October the record was further amended to -Killed in Action-.
The bodies of Lieutenant Turner and his Section Sergeant, 114 Sergeant Robert Elliott were found on the edge of Nonne Boschen Wood (in map square J8 on the trench map) on 29 September and were buried by members of 55th Australian Infantry Battalion.
Formal statements about the casualties appear on Page 29 of the service record of Lieutenant Turner and Page 14 of the service record of Sergeant Elliott.
Lieutenant Turner and Sergeant Elliott are commemorated in Ieper on the British Commonwealth Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing as their bodies were either not found or not identified when bodies were being recovered for reinternment in local war cemeteries.
Lieutenant Turner was posthumously awarded the Military Cross "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in charge of a party detailed to construct two strongpoints in the front line. He was wounded on the way to the position, but refused to relinquish his task, and remained at his post, though in great pain, until the work was completed. He set a magnificent example of fortitude and devotion to duty to all".
Lest We Forget
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