Personal info

  • Name: Walter PEELER
  • D.O.B: 9th August, 1887
  • D.O.A: 4th October, 1917
  • D.O.D: 23rd May, 1968
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Lance Corporal, 3rd Pioneer Battalion, 3rd Division, Australian Imperial Force
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Broodseinde, Belgium 4 October 1917

4 October 1917

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The First World War 1917 

On 4 October 1917 the British launched the Battle of Broodseinde, the third stage of their advance towards Passchendaele. They attacked along a line running from the Ypres to Staden railway, west of Poelcapelle, in the north, through Zonnebeke and Polygon Wood to Tower Hamlets, west of Gheluvelt, in the south. The northern part of the battle fell in Fifth Army’s sector. North-east of Langemark Sergeant J Ockendon, 1st Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers, distinguished himself in the assault on a German position at Chinese House and another at ’t Goed ter Vesten Farm. 9th Battalion The Sherwood Foresters and 11th Battalion The Manchester Regiment took part in the attack on Poelcapelle, east of Langemark. In this action Acting Corporal F Greaves captured a German machine-gun post and Sergeant C H Coverdale took Meunier House, a German strongpoint east of Poelcapelle, at the second attempt. 1/7th Battalion The Warwickshire Regiment attacked south of Poelcapelle. During the action Private A Hutt assumed command of his Platoon and took a German stronghold near Terrier Farm. South of here responsibility for the attack passed to Second Army. 37th, 38th, 39th and 40th Battalions of 10th Brigade, Australian Imperial Force, pushed forward north of the road running from Zonnebeke to Broodseinde. In the opening stages of the advance 37th Battalion had to deal with the German positions at Levi Cottages, just east of the road running north-west from Zonnebeke to Langemark. Here, Lance Corporal W Peeler distinguished himself by his gallantry. Further to the east, north of Broodseinde, 40th Battalion attacked Hamburg Redoubt and Sergeant L McGee captured one of the enemy pillboxes. A mile to the south, 62nd and 64th Brigades of 21st Division pushed forward east of Polygon Wood towards Reutel. During the fighting, Lieutenant Colonel L P Evans, commanding 1st Battalion The Lincolnshire Regiment, captured a German pillbox near Juniper Trench which had inflicted many casualties. To the south, Captain C Robertson, attached to The Tank Corps, gave his life leading the way on foot for four tanks through the waterlogged ground around the Reutelbeek. At the furthest point south of the attack, there had already been fighting at Tower Hamlets south of the Menin Road, during the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge on 20-22 September 1917 (see above). As part of the advance on 4 October, the British mounted a further assault on the German position but this went badly. In the course of the action Private T H Sage, 8th Battalion Prince Albert’s (Somerset Light Infantry), shielded other troops against the explosion of a grenade. He was so badly wounded it was thought hecould not make his way back to British lines, and was left with a revolver and the advice not to allow himself to be captured. Against all odds, he managed to crawl to safety.

Citation

 For most conspicuous bravery when with a Lewis gun accompanying the first wave of the assault he encountered an enemy party sniping the advancing troops from a shell-hole. L./Cpl. Peeler immediately rushed the position and accounted for nine of the enemy, and cleared the way for the advance. On two subsequent occasions he performed similar acts of valour, and each time accounted for a number of the enemy. During operations he was directed to a position from which an enemy machine gun was being fired on our troops. He located and killed the gunner, and the remainder of the enemy party ran into a dugout close by. From this shelter they were dislodged by a bomb, and ten of the enemy ran out. These he disposed of. This non-commissioned officer actually accounted for over thirty of the enemy. He displayed an absolute fearlessness in making his way ahead of the first wave of the assault, and the fine example which he set ensured the success of the attack against most determined opposition. 

Fourth Supplement to The London Gazette of 23 November 1917. 26 November 1917, Numb. 30400, p. 12329

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