Blackall legend Edgar Towner

23 Apr, 2015 07:30 AM
Major Edgar Thomas Towner VC MC.
The most highly decorated native-born Queenslander
Major Edgar Thomas Towner VC MC.

BORN at Glencoe Station, Blackall, in 1890, Edgar Towner enlisted on January 4, 1915, as a private in the Australian Imperial Force.

By March 1916, he was seeing action on the battlefields of Belgium and France, a sergeant in the 25th Battalion. He joined the 2nd Machine Gun Battalion as a commissioned lieutenant the following year and was mentioned in dispatches that year and again in 1918.

It was at Morlancourt, France, in June 1918 that Towner was awarded the Military Cross, when he captured enemy guns and turned them on the Germans.

Three months later, on September 1, at Peronne during the assault on Mont St Quentin, Towner single-handedly captured an enemy machine gun then brought his men forward to produce heavy fire.

He took 25 prisoners before capturing and using another machine gun, despite a scalp wound.

After 30 hours in a battle described by tacticians as “the finest single feat of the war”, Towner was led away exhausted.

He and five other Australians received Victoria Crosses as a result of their bravery that day, and Towner remains the most highly decorated native-born Queenslander.

He died in 1972 at Longreach and is buried in the cemetery there.

Sally Cripps

Sally Cripps

is a journalist for Queensland Country Life at Blackall


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