MILITARY MEDAL, G.V.R. ‘1622 PTE. J. BUCKLEY. 54/AUST: INF:’
Joseph Buckley was born in Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia, in 1895. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at Dubbo, 19 January 1916. Buckley embarked for France in August 1916, and served with the 54th Australian Infantry Battalion as part of the 14th Australian Brigade, 5th Australian Division, in the French theatre of war from October 1917.
Buckley was awarded his M.M. for gallantry on operations in the Ypres sector, in particular during a night raid on Whiz Farm, east of Wystschaete, where a collection pill boxes were located.
The raid itself was to be conducted on the night of the 19/20 February 1918, brigade ordering it to number no more than 20 men, the objective; to capture a number of prisoners for intelligence purposes. Lieutenant Bates DCM, was chosen as leader and handpicked 15 men to go with him. On the 18th, a reconnaissance was made to within 20 yards of the enemy pill boxes, before returning safely to the lines. Buckley appears to have been one of this number. On the following evening the CO had a short talk with the men who were to take part in the raid, finding them ‘all keen and in a rare good humour’. At the last minute, 2 intelligence officers and 4 men from the company holding the front posts. This bringing up the number involved to 22.
Originally, at 8.45pm the raiders were to leave the lines, under protection of an artillery barrage. However the weather was perfect for such an enterprise with regards to light and their was a slight ground mist, so it was decided the raiders get as far forward as they could under cover of the mist before the bombardment commenced. At 9pm when the delayed bombardment commenced, Lieutenant Bates and the raiders had got to within the 20 yards of the enemy wire. Now they rushed through the first line of entanglements and into the first enemy dugouts and trenches. Bombs were thrown, the first two dugouts taken and then a third larger one was taken after a short resistance. The enemy were called to surrender and the raiders made their way back to the lines with 7 prisoners from the 162nd Infantry regiment. The raid was a great success and 3 members of the Battalion (including Buckley) were awarded the M.M.
M.M. London Gazette 10 April 1918. The original recommendation states:
‘For gallant conduct and devotion to duty during a raid on Whiz Farm, East of Wytschaete, on the night 19th /20th February 1918. During the previous preparation and in the enterprise itself Private Buckley showed an admirable example and his personal gallantry and devotion to duty imbued his comrades with a confidence that considerably helped the enterprise. He was first through the enemy wire, first to the enemy dug-outs and one of the last to leave. He covered the left of the party during the return to our lines. His work throughout was of estimable value.’
Buckley returned to Australia in S.S. Orita, 23 June 1919, and was discharged in September of the same year.
Condition VF, with copy MM recommendation and the battalion War Diary (on CD) for Feb 1918 which goes into great detail about the raid.