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June 21, 2015

William Dunstan, VC

by vipsinc

Much has been reported on an area of land adjacent to the former Golden Point Primary School (Ballarat). In 1997, the land was purchased by the Sovereign Hill Historical Park. Although it was offically known as Golden Point PS Reserve, many living nearby had long since called by it by an unofficial name, William Dunstan Reserve.

In 2014 a small but vocal section of the Ballarat community expressed alarm when it became known the ‘Reserve’ had recently been purchased by a local property developer. A public campaign was mounted with a view to preserving this  ‘green space’ – and a failed attempt was made to establish a ‘Green Ban’ on the site.
Full story:…/311…/union-green-ban-on-park/Dunstan-1

Few residents in modern day Ballarat claim to know much about William Dunstan (1895-1957) who was born at Ballarat East on 8 March. This soldier and newspaper manager, was the fourth child and third son of William John Dunstan, bootmaker, and his wife Henrietta, née Mitchell.

On 2 June 1915, Dunstan enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force as a Private. Two weeks later he embarked for Egypt as an Acting Sergeant with the 6th Reinforcements of the 7th Battalion. On 5 August 1915, he was appointed an Acting Corporal with the 7th on Gallipoli; four days later he won the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery at Lone Pine.

On the morning of 9 August the Turks made a determined counter-attack on a newly captured trench held by Lieutenant Frederick Tubb and ten men. Two of these men were ordered to remain on the floor of the trench where they were to catch and throw back enemy bombs, or to smother their explosions with overcoats; both were soon mutilated. Lt Tubb, Cpl Dunstan, Cpl Alexander Burton and six others kept firing over the parapet. Several bombs burst simultaneously in the trench, killing or wounding five men. Tubb continued to fight supported only by Dunstan and Burton until a violent explosion blew down the barricade; Tubb drove the Turks off. Later, Dunstan and Burton were rebuilding it when a bomb burst between them, killing Burton and temporarily blinding Dunstan.

Cpl Dunstan was invalided to Australia and discharged on 1 February 1916, having been twice mentioned in dispatches. He then rejoined the Citizen Forces where he served in the rank of lieutenant, as Area Officer for Ballarat and Acting Brigade Major, 18th Infantry Brigade. His military career concluded when he transferred to the 6th Infantry Battalion in Melbourne in 1921, the Unattached List in 1923, and the Reserve of Officers in 1928 from whence he retired as lieutenant.

Additional Biographies

Photo of William Dunstan, VC ( )

Further Reading

Extract from the (unsuccessful) Application for Heritage Registration of former Reserve at Golden Point:…/FORMER-GOLDEN-POINT-RESERVE.doc

‘The Former Golden Point Primary School Reserve has been nominated on the basis of its association with William Dunstan, a winner of the Victoria Cross in 1915 and former student of the Golden Point Primary School.


  • The Former Golden Point Primary School Reserve is known informally by some in the community as the ‘William Dunstan Reserve’.
  • This place has a direct association with the community member William Dunstan.
  • William Dunstan was a former student at the Primary School and was awarded the Victoria Cross for his service at Gallipoli in 1915.
  • William Dunstan, as an individual, did not make a strong and influential contribution to the course of Victoria’s history.
  • William Dunstan was one of hundreds of students from that Primary School and one of 77 members of the First AIF who were awarded Victoria Crosses during World War I.’

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