This section of the website includes details of some of the significant items within the museum’s collection.
Victoria Crosses Awarded to West Australians
The Army Museum of WA has in its collection three Victoria Crosses that were awarded to West Australians. These are:
Private Leslie Thomas “Tom” Starcevich, originally from Grass patch, North of Esperance , Western Australia, served in the 2nd AIF in the 2/43rd Australian Infantry Battalion.
During the battalion’s involvement in the capture of Beaufort, North Borneo on 28 June 1945, the leading section of Starcevich’s unit came under fire from Japanese machine-gun posts and suffered casualties. Starcevich, a Bren gunner, moved forward and assaulted each post in turn, killing five of the enemy and causing the rest to retreat. Later, when the section was again held up, he adopted similar tactics and single-handedly captured two more posts, disposing of seven of the enemy. For these actions Starcevich was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Private Martin O’Meara was born in at Terryglass, Lorrha, County Tipperary in Southern Ireland and later emigrated to Western Australia. He enlisted in the 16th Battalion in the first AIF in August 1915 and embarked for France in December 1915.
Between 9 August and 12 August 1916 at Mouquet Farm, Pozières, France, during four days of very heavy fighting, Private O’Meara repeatedly went out and brought in wounded officers and men from “No Man’s Land” under intense artillery and machine-gun fire. He also volunteered and carried up ammunition and bombs through a heavy barrage to a portion of the trenches which was being heavily shelled at the time. O’Meara was wounded three times during the war and returned to Australia on 15 September 1918, having reached the rank of sergeant. For these actions O’Meara was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Private Percival Eric (Percy) Gratwick, originally from Katanning, Western Australia, served in the 2nd AIF in the 2/48th Australian Infantry Battalion. This unit was involved in the original Defence of Tobruk in North Africa, then subsequently transferred to Palestine in October 1941 and by June 1942 was based in Egypt.
On the night of 25/26 October 1942 during the attack at Miteiriya Ridge, Egypt, the platoon to which Gratwick belonged suffered considerable casualties, including the platoon commander and sergeant. Gratwick, realising the seriousness of the situation, charged a German machine-gun position by himself, and killed the crew with hand grenades. He also killed a mortar crew. Under heavy machine-gun fire Gratwick then charged a second post, using his rifle and bayonet. In inflicting further casualties he was killed by machine-gun fire, but his brave and determined action, for which he would be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, enabled his company to capture the final objective. Gratwick is buried in El Alamein Commonwealth cemetery.
In addition to the above Victoria Crosses to West Australians the Army Museum also has one Victoria Cross to a British officer (Chase) who was awarded the VC in Afghanistan 1880 and later had family connections in Australia. These form the largest collection of Victoria Crosses in Australia outside the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. Note: These items are not on permanent display.
Identity Discs of Corporal Mervyn Hall,DCM, 2/16th Infantry Battalion
The Army Museum has in its Second World War Gallery the identity discs belonging to Corporal Mervyn Hall, DCM, WX14757 of the 2nd/16th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF. Corporal Hall was wounded after his unit's attack on 'the Pimple' at Shaggy Ridge, New Guinea in late December 1943. During the action Hall had single-handedly attacked and wiped out a Japanese pillbox, enabling his platoon to gain a foothold on the ridge. For this act of outstanding bravery he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) . This medal is also on display viagra quebec canada.
Russel Memorial Cross
The Army Museum has the original battlefield cemetery memorial cross to Lt Hugh Russel, MC, 3rd Australian Tunnelling Company, AIF. Prior to the war Russel was employed in Western Australia as a surveyor and later a mine manager . He was awarded the Military Cross for his devotion to duty during mining operations as part of the attack on Hill 70, near Loos, on 15th August 1917.
Lt Russel died of wounds on 23 January 1918 and was buried at Hersin Communal Cemetery Extension, France. Hersin is a village about 5 km south of Bethune. His place of burial was originally marked by an elaborate wooden cross made by the 3rd Tunnelling Company, but in 1920 the Imperial War Graves Commission replaced the cross with a permanent headstone and members of the unit presented the memorial cross to his widow in WA. It was in the family until the 1970s but disappeared when sent for maintenance, finally showing up some 40 years later at an auction in Victoria. It was subsequently recovered and returned to the family and presented by his grand-daughter, Beverley Barry, on behalf of the family to the Army Museum of WA in April 2011.
Former Unit Colours and Guidon
The Army Museum has a number of historic unit colours and a guidon previously carried by Western Australian units of the Citizen Military Forces (CMF), and the later Army Reserve.
Please note that these colours and guidon are currently not available for viewing due to the gallery redevelopment work being undertaken at the museum.
The initial items relating to this collection are the following which were passed on to the museum in 1988:
- Queen’s (originally King’s) and Regimental Colours of 11th Battalion (The City of Perth Regiment), presented in 1920 and 1929 respectively.
- Queen’s (originally King’s) and Regimental Colours of 16th Battalion (The Cameron Highlanders of Western Australia), presented in 1951 viagra au canada.
- Queen’s (originally King’s) and Regimental Colours of 28th Battalion (The Swan Regiment), presented in 1920 and 1927 respectively.
- Queen’s (originally King’s) and Regimental Colours of 44th Battalion (The West Australian Rifles), presented in 1920 and 1927 respectively.
- Guidon of 10th Light Horse, presented in 1928
These were previously held at the State War Memorial, King’s Park and were in a fragile condition before being prepared for display under a grant from the Australian Bicentennial Authority awarded in 1988.
A further set of historic colours previously carried by 11th Battalion (The City of Perth Regiment) was handed over to the Army Museum by Perth City Council in 1993. These had been held by the Council since their formal laying up in 1930:
- Queen’s Colour, 1st Infantry Regiment (WA Volunteer Forces), presented in 1896
- King’s Banner, 11th Australian Infantry Regiment (Perth Regiment), presented in 1911
- Regimental Colour, 11th Australian Infantry Regiment (Perth Regiment), presented in 1911
An addition was made to the above collection of colours in November 2002 when the former colours of 16th Battalion, The Royal Western Australia Regiment were handed over to the Army Museum following the battalion being presented with a new set of colours in October of that year. These colours were originally presented to 1st Battalion, The Royal Western Australia Regiment by Field Marshall HRH The Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh at a parade held at the Western Australian Cricket Association Ground, East Perth on 25 November 1962. The CMF infantry battalion colours passed on to the museum in 1988, referred to above, were the colours that were marched off and retired at that parade, following the merging of these battalions to form The Royal Western Australia Regiment in 1960. The collection therefore represents colours from several successive generations of infantry units in the State.