The Keith Payne VC Park

A park in the suburb of Stafford in Brisbane has been named in honour of Keith Payne VC. The action during the Vietnam War, in which he won the Victoria Cross was described in the citation contained in the article entitled “Honouring Two 31st Battalion Diggers” under the “Heroes” menu of this website. Other plaques in the park have been dedicated to those Australians who were awarded the VC in various other conflicts.

 

Plaque Erected in Honour of Keith Payne VC

 

 

 

 

 

LCpl William O Wilson DCM DM

 

“In discussion about the role of 31st Battalion during the Battle of Polygon Wood, where Paddy Bugden was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions in the Battle, some have suggested that another should also have been awarded a Victoria Cross.

In fact, there was another 31st Battalion digger recommended for a Victoria Cross as listed in the attached page of the Bn War Diary. He was Pte William Overend WILSON. He was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and then the Belgium Award “The Decoration Militaire” . His Distinguished Conduct Medal citation reads – “Polygon Wood 26th-28th Sept 1917: For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in an attack. When the leading troops were subjected to heavy enfilade fire from a pillbox he led his section on his own initiative and attacked and captured it, putting the whole garrison out of action and taking 4 enemy machine guns. His courage and devotion to duty were an inspiration to his comrades.”

His Decoration Militaire citation reads – “At Polygon Wood east of Ypres during the period 25th-28th Sept 1917 this soldier displayed the greatest coolness, initiative and deliberation. When an enemy MG in the “Pill Boxes” at Jerk House commenced a murderous enfilade fire on the first and second waves, he, notwithstanding that his officer and NCOs had been killed, saw the situation at a glance, and calling on his section to follow, gallantly led the way. By his vigorous example and action, the section surrounded the Pill Box, capturing and killing all the occupants in addition to seizing four machine guns, thereby saving the right flank from entire annihilation. At all times and under all circumstances his cheerfulness and devotion to duty inspired his comrades. He acted as a guide to relieving troops and was always the first to volunteer for dangerous tasks.”

A number of people with detailed knowledge of the Battle of Polygon Wood and of conventions in awarding various Honours at that time, consider that the Aussie Commanders thought his actions were deserving of a VC but the overall Commanders (ie Birdwood & Haigh) wished to limit VCs to one per unit per action. So they arranged for a Belgian Award in addition to the DCM. It is most unusual to be awarded 2 decorations for the one action.

L/Cpl WILSON was KIA on 25th May 1918 and is buried at Adelaide Cemetery in France.

In August 2018, while no photo of L/Cpl Wilson had been found, a photo of his grave had been obtained. It had also been ascertained that a Street in West End Townsville had been named in his honour in the 1920s (not far from his  parents’ home in Flinders St West End.) It was therefore thought appropriate this little known Townsville man be recognized for his outstanding efforts at the Church Service on Sunday 19 August 2018. Apart from the special prayer for L/Cpl Wiliiam O Wilson as detailed in the Programme, we arranged for one of Pierre Seillier’s (our Honorary French Member) magnificent Tributes to be donated to the Cathedral and will be displayed in the Cathedral. The family motto has also been added to the gravestone. See photos below –

LEST WE FORGET

 

 

Unit Diary showing Honours and Awards Recommended after the Battle

 

Commemorative Service Townsville

 

Part of the service referring to LCpl William O Wilson
Tribute to LCpl William O Wilson done by Honorary Member Pierre Seillier

LCpl Angelo Barbouttis

This is a story of the action in which LCPL Angelo Barbouttis was KIA. It appeared in the Townsville Bulletin on Wed 1st May 1946. He was in the 31st Battalion, The Kennedy Regiment, prior to the war and joined the 31st Bn AMF which subsequently became the 31st/51st Bn AMF

Below is a photo of a Street in Belgian Gardens named after him and an adjacent plaque describing the significance . Above is a photo of Angelo from Bob Burla’s book “Crossed Boomerangs”

THE LATE CORPORAL ANGELO BARBOUTTIS
Corporal Angelo Barbouttis, who enlisted from Townsville,
displayed great heroism during a clash with a Japanese patrol

in Dutch New Guinea in December, 1943.

He was a member of a small reconnaissance patrol that set out in a small diesel-drlven trawler to explore the inland waterways of the swamps of southern Dutch New Guinea, then held by the Japanese. The patrol kept away from all known Japanese locations, but fate finally led them to pick one channel which led them headlong into a Japanese
patrol.

The trawler rounded a bend and came face to face, about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, with two barges of Japanese. Both parties scrambled for their guns. Barbouttis, well over six feet, was standing up in the bow jerking and spitting death from a heavy machine gun at the Japanese. Every one was pouring lead at the Japs, and they were firing back. The engine room men were trying desperately to turn the boat.

The Japs shot the machine gun out of Barbouttis’ hands. He was not dismayed, but snatched up a Bren gun and carried on the fight. Then the Bren jammed, and he was seen to throw it away and grab a bag of hand grenades, and hurl them into the Jap’s barges.

By this time the trawler had been turned and was heading down stream. The battle was over, one barge was on fire and sinking, the other stranded on the bank. Some of the Japs
had scrambled ashore and began sniping, and it was then that the brave Barbouttis was shot through the head and fell dead.

The boat was riddled from end to end and there were only three sound members of the party. They headed out to sea but the dead Barbouttis had been their sole navigator. Not knowing when help would come or when they would reach their base, it was decided to bury their hero at sea. He was consigned to a watery grave with the greatness of a great simplicity by the members of the trawler.

The clash will no doubt be among the many incidents recorded in the official history of the war.

Barbouttis was awarded a Mention In Despatches (MID).

Major George Roberts  the 31st Battalion 2IC after WW2) advocated over many years to have Angelo’s award upgraded to a Victoria Cross.

An Inquiry into unresolved recognition of past acts of valour in 2011 pointed out that when a serviceman dies in the action in which he is nominated for an award, he can only be awarded an MID or a VC. They pointed out that had the person lived he may well have received a MM, MC or DCM.

The Inquiry determined that Angelo’s MID should remain unchanged.

Major Roberts was also Deputy Mayor of Townsville and was involved in the naming of a Street in Belgian Gardens in honour of this brave soldier (see photos)

LEST WE FORGET

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