Henry William “Harry” Murray, VC, CMG, DSO & Bar, DCM was an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross. Murray rose from the rank of private to lieutenant colonel in three and a half years. He is often described as the most highly decorated infantry soldier of the British Empire during the First World War. Murray worked as a farmer, courier and timber cutter before enlisting in 1914.
About Harry Murray in brief
Henry William “Harry” Murray, VC, CMG, DSO & Bar, DCM was an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross. Murray rose from the rank of private to lieutenant colonel in three and a half years. He is often described as the most highly decorated infantry soldier of the British Empire during the First World War. Born in Tasmania, Murray worked as a farmer, courier and timber cutter before enlisting in September 1914. Re-enlisting for service in the Second World War, he was appointed as commanding officer of the 26th Battalion. Murray returned to his farm and died in 1966 at the age of 85. He was the eighth of nine children of Edward Kennedy Murray, a farmer and his wife Clarissa, née Littler. Murray was baptised on 23 November 1885, and attended Evandale State School. When he was 14 years of age, his parents withdrew him from school to work on the family farm. The family later moved to Northcote, near St. Leonards, where Edward Murray died in 1904. Murray initially worked on his brother’s wheat farm, before becoming a courier for a mining company at Kookynie, transporting gold and mail by either bicycle or on horseback. He travelled the same track on a fortnightly basis, gaining a reputation for being a crack shot with a. 32 carbine that he carried. Murray eventually settled in Queensland, where he purchased the grazing farm that would be his home for the remainder of his life. After a brief stay in Western Australia, he returned to Queensland in December 1951 to take up his post as a grazier.
He died on his farm in 1966, aged 85, and was buried at Stony Point, near Brisbane, on 1 December 1971. He had a son, Peter, who was born in Tasmania in 1885. Murray served in the Launceston Volunteer Artillery Corps in 1902, serving until 1908, when he migrated to Western Australia where his two older brothers had previously settled. In 1914, Murray enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and was posted as a private to A Company of the newly formed 16th Battalion, 4th Brigade. Assigned to a machine gun crew, he served during the Gallipoli Campaign where he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal before the withdrawal from the peninsula. In February 1917, Murray commanded a company during the battalion’s attack on the German position of Stormy Trench. During the engagement, the company was able to capture the position and repulse three fierce counter-attacks, with Murray often leading bayonet and bombing charges himself. Soon after his Victoria Cross action, Murray was promoted to major and earned a Bar to his Distinguished Service Order. In early 1918, he assumed command of the 4th Machine Gun Battalion, and would remain until the end of the war. In April 1915, Murray’s machine gun crews fired throughout the afternoon and night into the night at Pope’s Hill, in Egypt. The following day Murray’s battalion landed at Ariu Burnu.