Lieutenant Lawrence Dominic ‘Fats’ McCarthy was awarded the Victoria Cross for a mind-boggling attack on a German line west of Vermandovillers in France in 1918.
On August 23, McCarthy was commanding 16th Battalion D Company when he realised a British battalion on his left flank was pinned down by heavy fire.
The well-built McCarthy raced across open ground to attack German machine gun posts.
Using a revolver, Mills bombs and purloined enemy bombs, McCarthy created havoc, taking control of 460 metres of enemy trench, supported only by a trailing and wounded sergeant.
McCarthy’s VC citation says he captured five machine guns and 50 prisoners and killed 20 Germans.
He later said: “I had to attack or be killed or taken prisoner.”
Charles Bean called it “perhaps the most effective feat of individual fighting in the history of the AIF,” next to Albert Jacka at Pozières.
Raised in Perth’s Clontarf orphanage, McCarthy was a sawmiller who lost three fingers of his left hand before the war.
He fought on Gallipoli, at Pozières and Mouquet Farm, was wounded at Bullecourt, and lived until 1975.
His only son was killed in action on Bougainville in 1945.
This story was published as part of the Road to Remembrance series developed in partnership with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and Fairfax Media.