Australian War Museum - The Hall of Valour - Victoria Crosses awarded to Australian Freemasons

The Hall of Valour at the AWM honours the one-hundred Australians who have received the Victoria Cross; the highest award for bravery in time of war. The Hall of Valour recognises the deeds of ordinary Australians under the extraordinary conditions of war. Of these, seventeen (17%) are known to have been Freemasons.

The Victoria Cross was instituted in 1856 by Queen Victoria and made retrospective to 1854 to cover the period of the Crimean War. The traditional explanation of the source of the gunmetal from which the medals are struck is that it derives from Russian cannon captured at the siege of Sevastopol. It was awarded to Australians for valour in several major conflicts since the Boer War until replaced by the Victoria Cross for Australia in 1991.

As a comparison, America’s Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1863 and has been awarded 3,465 times while the VC has been awarded 1,354 times across the whole British Empire. That’s a ration of almost 3:1

AWM has 65VCs which I believe to be the second largest public display of these medals in the world.

The names of the Brothers who have won the Victoria Cross are below.

Where photographs are available, medals are shown below the name of the VC winner.

The below have got very jumbled during our web site conversion in Sept 2021. I will need to do some digging to make sure I am matching the correct text with the correct picture.

Lt William Dunstan VC, Victoria Cross Winner

Lt Neville R Howse VC (1863-1930), Australia's first Victoria Cross Winner and only medical member of the Australian Forces to be awarded the VC. Initiated Lodge Ophir on 29 Aug 1901

Captain Albert Jacka, VC, MC & bar (1893-1932) Australia’s First WW1 VC

John Hurst Edmondson (1914-1941) Victoria Cross Winner. Initiated into Lodge Liverpool No 197 on 3 April 1935. First Australian VC of WW2

Arthur Blackburn VC (1892-1960) Victoria Cross Winner. Initiated Peter's Collegiate Lodge No 58 South Australia on 9 Dec 1918.

William Currey VC (1895-1948) Victoria Cross Winner. Initiated into Lodge Carlton No 382 on 11 March 1930.

Walter (Walley) Brown VC (1885-1942) Victoria Cross Winner. Initiated Lodge Godeldrie No 558 on 7 April 1931.

James Rogers VC (1873-1961) Victoria Cross Winner. Initiated at Lodge Robbie Burns No 88 UGLV on 11 Nov 1913

John Woods Whittle VC (1882-1946) Victoria Cross Winner. Initiated at Lodge Sydney St Andrew no 7 on 1 Nov 1923

Hugo Throssell VC (1884-1933) Victoria Cross Winner. Initiated at Lodge Bulwer No 1068 England on 15 June 1917

George J Howell VC (1893-1964) Victoria Cross Winner. Initiated into Freemasonry on 2 Dec 1920

Major Frederick Harold Tubb VC(1881 - 1917) Victoria Cross Winner. Initiated Euroa Lodge No 185 UGLV on 10 Feb 1914

Cameron Stewart Baird VC, MG (1981-2013) Initiated on the 23rd September 2006 in Lodge Thespian No. 256 ULG NSW & ACT.

Other Australian VC recipients who were Freemasons include;

John Hutton Bisdee VC (1869-1930), first Australian soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross (in Boer War, South Africa). Initiated Lodge Bulwer No 1068 England on 6 Jan 1917

William Donovan Joynt VC (1889-1986) Victoria Cross Winner. Initiated at Old Melbournians Lodge no 317 UGLV on 12 Oct 1923

Blair A Wark VC (1894-1941) Victoria Cross Winner. Initiated at Lodge Lane Cove No 338 on 8 Nov 1921

James Gorman VC (1834-1882) Victoria Cross Winner initiated at The Leinster Marine Lodge Of Australia in 1878.

James Heather Gordon VC (1907-1986) Victoria Cross Winner. Initiated at Lodge United Service No 307 WA on 2 April 1959

George Cartwright VC (1894-1978) Victoria Cross Winner. Initiated Lodge Merrylands No 479 on 1 Nov 1923

Three recently discovered Freemasons who were received the Victoria Cross are

William "Rusty" Ruthven, VC (21 May 1893 – 12 January 1970)

(Found by Granville Angell)

Initiated 2 June 1932 in Clifton Hill Lodge No 335 UGLV. He was Passed 4th August 1932 and then Raised 1st December 1932

Albert Chalmers Borella, VC, MM (7 August 1881 – 7 February 1968).

(Found by Ange Kenos)

Initiated 21 July 1925 in Grange Lodge No 45 UGLV, Passed 2 Feb 1926 and the Raised 6 April 1926, GL certificate No 56855. In 1939, Borella changed his surname by deed poll to "Chalmers-Borella"

William John Symons, VC (10 July 1889 – 24 June 1948)

(Found by Damien Hudson)

Included in 1919 UGLV WW1 Honour Roll as member of Windsor No 72 (UGLV). Changed his name to “Penn-Symons” in 1918 and was reluctant to speak of his war experience.