A local ANZAC legend

WHEN Augusta-Margaret River Shire deputy president Ian Earl, stood up to address the Margaret River ANZAC Day service today, he wore his grandfather's medals with pride.

Those medals include two of the highest distinctions awarded to soldiers serving on land - a Military Cross, granted in recognition of "an act of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy" and a Bar to the Military Cross, granted in recognition of "further acts of exemplary gallantry".

While Cr Earl spoke of his family's visit to France to see where his grandfather's deeds of exemplary gallantry had been performed, he reflected on and related some of the amazing experiences of his late grandfather, Roy, including stepping ashore on the Gallipoli Peninsula on that first day, 97 years ago to the day.

A WWI veteran, Roy served with the 11th Battalion and was wounded at Gallipoli.

After his recovery, he served in the 51st Battalion in France and was awarded the Military Cross in 1917 for action at Noreuil.

He received a Bar to the Military Cross at the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux on April 25, 1918.

Roy enlisted as in the Australian Infantry Forces in 1914 as a 19-year-old.

Serving as a private with the 11th Infantry Battalion he was wounded in action on the first day at Gallipoli, suffering the effects of a gunshot to the head, face and eye.

After recuperating in England, he rejoined his unit in Lemnos, before returning to Gallipoli in September 1915.

In 1916 he was transferred to the 51st Infantry Battalion, which was shipped to France to reinforce the newly-formed 4th Australian Division.

He was appointed Second Lieutenant and in Noreuil received the Military Cross for “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in the field”.

Lt Earl had led a party of Lewis machine gunners and bombers against the enemy, capturing three machine guns and several prisoners.

He was promoted to lieutenant, and on ANZAC Day, 1918, in Villers-Bretonneux, performed the deeds that would win the Bar to his Military Cross.

Finding an enemy strongpoint with machine guns, he attacked it with his Lewis gun and rifle bombing section, killing or capturing the garrison and capturing three machine guns while under heavy machine gun and rifle fire.

Praised for his coolness, resourcefulness and leadership, he was appointed temporary captain in January 1919.

In August 1919 he returned to Australia.

Later, he would serve in World War II as a captain, undertaking troop training duties in Northam.

The Cowaramup Country subdivision, built on Earl family land, includes Roy Earl Drive, Noreuil Circuit, Villers Street and Bretonneux Turn in recognition of Roy’s military history.

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