Tuesday, 15 July 2014

William Dunstan VC (1895-1957)

William Dunstan was born in Ballarat East on 8 March 1895, the fourth child of William John Dunstan, a boot maker, and his wife Henrietta. He attended Golden Point Primary School and at age 15, he left school and joined the clerical staff of Snow's drapers in Sturt Street Ballarat.

In June 1915 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and embarked to Egypt as part of the 6th reinforcements of the 7th Battalion. Once his initial training in Egypt  was completed he embarked to Gallipoli. He took part in the battle of Lone Pine on Gallipoli and was awarded his Victoria Cross on 9th August 1915 for conspicuous bravery. During the battle he was temporarily blinded  and was invalided back to Australia and discharged from the army in February 1916.

He was presented with his Victoria Cross by the Governor-General on June 10th 1916 on the steps of Parliament House, Melbourne.  Being a very reserved man he found the whole thing a great ordeal.

On the 9th November 1916 he married Ballarat girl Marjorie Carnell at St Pauls Church of England, Ballarat East and moved to Melbourne to begin his business career. His strength of character led him to have a highly successful career in the newspaper industry with the Herald and Weekly Times. He was greatly respected in business, judicial and parliamentary circles. One of his sons, Keith became a highly known and respected journalist with the Herald and Weekly Times.

William Dunstan died suddenly of a heart attack on 2 March 1957. Such was his standing in the community that over 800 people attended his funeral including seven V.C. winners.

Citation for his V.C. (abridged).

'in the early morning of 9th August the enemy made a determined counter-attack on a newly-captured trench held by Lieutenant Tubb, Corporals Burton, Dunstan and a few men.  They advanced up a sap and blew in a sandbag barricade, but Tubb and the two corporals repulsed the enemy and rebuilt the barricade. Strong enemy bombing parties twice again succeeded blowing in the barricade, but on each occasion the enemy were repulsed and the barricade rebuilt, though Tubb was wounded and Corporal Burton killed  while most gallantly building up the parapet under a hail of bombs.'

William Dunstan
Source: The Ballarat Courier Christmas supplement 1915
Source Material:   Australian War Memorial <https://www.awm.gov.au/people/P10676282/>


  1. Did Corporal William Dunstan have any scars or birthmarks? And what colour eyes and hair did he have?

  2. If you look at William Dunstan's war service records, available through the National Archives of Australia website, you will see on Dunstan's enlistment papers that his complexion is recorded as 'fresh' and his eyes grey and his hair light brown. It is also stated that he has a mole on his left arm, and 2 moles on the back of his neck. No scars or birthmarks are mentioned. Later on, Dunstan was wounded in the face and in the leg, so there were probably scars from those wounds. His service papers also detail the actions at Lone Pine, which earned him the VC