1917 | Former Dimboola man wins V.C.
|One hundred years ago this month, former local resident Rupert Vance ‘Mick’ Moon was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces, for his actions during fighting near Bullecourt in France.
Whilst Moon was born in Bacchus Marsh and is closely associated with that community, he spent time living in Dimboola prior to the War when his father, Arthur Moon, was manager of the local branch of the National Bank of Australasia.
After leaving school Moon followed his father and worked as a clerk with the National Bank along with citizen military service with the 13th Australian Light Horse and in the 8th Infantry, Citizen Military Forces.
He enlisted in the 4th Light Horse Regiment, A Squadron, soon after the outbreak of the War in August 1914.
Along with his unit he embarked from Melbourne on board the troop transport ship A18 Wiltshire in October and he first saw action at Gallipoli during 1915.
He was injured there in September 1915 but was only away from his unit for a short time before returning to the fight. He left Gallipoli during the general evacuation in December of that year.
He spent time at the Regimental Headquarters in Heliopolis, Egypt, for the first part of 1916 before being transferred to the Western Front in France.
By April 1917 Moon had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and was serving in the 58th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force in the Bullecourt area of northern France and it was early the following month that he led an attack on a German trench where he earned the Victoria Cross.
The following is how his actions were described in the official recommendation for the award.
On the morning of 12th of May 1917, in portion of the Hindenburg Lane east of Bullecourt, Lieut. Moon displayed most conspicuous bravery in an attack on a German strong point. His own immediate objective was a position in advance of the enemy trench. His orders were, having captured this, to move onto the trench itself, co-operate in the general attack in progress there, and in a further assault on another strong point immediately in the rear. The full story is told by two eye-witnesses whose evidence is attached.
Lieut. Moon was hit in the face when advancing to this first objective, which, after a sharp bomb fight, he captured.
Leading his men, he engaged in the attack on the trench which the enemy held in force. Here he received another wound in the shoulder which spun him round and dazed his for awhile. His men wavered and hesitated, but Lieut. Moon again rushed forward calling to his men “come on, you’ll not see me left, boys”. His men rushed after him, and the enemy broke and retired to the strong point in rear of the trench. Behind there was a sunken road where the enemy had a large dugout from which parties had continually been emerging to reinforce the defenders. Lieut. Moon’s party, now much diminished, fought on in the general attack, which was so strongly pressed that the enemy to the number of 184 surrendered. Lieut. Moon had by this time received another wound in the foot.
Sitting down among his men with blood and sweat pouring from him he remarked “It was a hard fight boys, I’ve got three cracks and not one of them good enough for Blighty”. Then he busied himself with the consolidation of the captured position and went down into the sunken road where he received a bullet through the face fracturing his jaw. Only then would he consent to retire from the fight. His bravery was magnificent and was largely instrumental in winning a fight against superior numbers safeguarding the flank of the attack on Bullecourt and gaining 184 prisoners and 4 machine guns. - (Australian War Memorial)
Moon was presented with his Victoria Cross by King George V at an investiture at Buckingham Palace in August 1917.
He returned to Australia in January 1918 for two months before returning to Europe and had made it back to his unit in France by the middle of August 1918.
After the War Moon retuned to Australia in August 1919 with the rank of temporary Captain, and was discharged from the army in October.
Upon his return he resumed working for the National Bank before taking up a senior position with Dennys Lascelles Ltd.
Moon also served in the Second World War, enlisting in 1942 and being discharged in 1945 at the rank of Captain.
Moon passed away at his home in Barwon Heads on 28 February 1986.
Moon is commemorated with a tree in the Bacchus Marsh Avenue of Honour and the Rupert Vance Moon V.C. Memorial Garden at the Mount Duneed Cemetery in a community where he lived for 24 years.
Top photo from the Collection Database of the Australian War Memorial under the ID Number: A02592
Bottom photo from the Jeparit Leader 20 June 1917
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