Friday, August 18, 2023



The stories behind the names on the signs at the rest stops on the Remembrance Driveway, which goes from Sydney to Canberra.

The highway commemorates persons awarded the Victoria Cross by naming rest stops after them.


The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces

The VC was introduced on 29 January 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of valour during the Crimean War. The metal used to make every Victoria Cross medal has been made from cannons captured by the British at the siege of Sevastopol.

It may be awarded to a person of any military rank in any service and to civilians under military command. No civilian has received the award since 1879.

Australia was the first Commonwealth country to create its own VC, on 15 January 1991. Although it is a separate award, its appearance is identical to its British counterpart.


John Edmondson (1914-1941), c 1941

Studio portrait of Corporal John Hurst Edmondson VC, the first Australian to be awarded the Victoria Cross in World War II. He was posthumously awarded the VC for his actions on 13 April, 1941 in Tobruk, Libya.


Location of rest stop:

Federal Highway at Rose’s Lagoon, Collector NSW



On 20 May 1940 Edmondson enlisted in the 2/17th Battalion after serving with the 4th Militia Battalion since March 1939. He was promoted to corporal. After training at Ingleburn and Bathurst, his battalion embarked for the Middle East on 19 October 1940 as reinforcements for the 9th Division. After desert training, his division relieved the 6th Australian Division at Marsa Brega in Cyrenaica on 9 March 1941.

On 31 March, the German forces under the command of General Erwin Rommel mounted an attack on the Australian and British positions, forcing them to retreat. The 9th Division took up new positions outside the port of Tobruk and on 11 April, the now famous siege began.


Victoria Cross citation:

The announcement and accompanying citation for the decoration was published in supplement to the London Gazette on 1 July 1941, reading:

War Office, 1st July, 1941.

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the VICTORIA CROSS to:—

No. 15705 Corporal John Hurst Edmondson, Australian Military Forces.

On the night of 13th–14th April, 1941, a party of German infantry broke through the wire defences at Tobruk, and established themselves with at least six machine guns, mortars and two small field pieces. It was decided to attack them with bayonets, and a party consisting of one officer, Corporal Edmondson and five privates, took part in the charge. During the counter-attack Corporal Edmondson was wounded in the neck and stomach but continued to advance under heavy fire and killed one enemy with his bayonet. Later, his officer had his bayonet in one of the enemy and was grasped about the legs by him, when another attacked him from behind. He called for help, and Corporal Edmondson, who was some yards away, immediately came to his assistance and in spite of his wounds, killed both of the enemy. This action undoubtedly saved his officer's life.

'Shortly after returning from this successful counter-attack, Corporal Edmondson died of his wounds. His actions throughout the operations were outstanding for resolution, leadership and conspicuous bravery.

An hour later, 200 German infantrymen attacked the post, forcing the Australians to withdraw, and established a bridgehead in the outer defensive line. However, the fierceness of the platoon's defence pressured Rommel into diverting troops from his main attack. The attack failed, with the German tanks being mauled and forced to retreat with heavy casualties.

Corporal John Edmondson died of his wounds and is buried in the Tobruk war cemetery.

He was the first Australian to receive the Victoria Cross in the war.

Edmondson's VC was presented to his mother by the Governor-General on 27 September 1941. In 1969, she presented her son's medals and some of his personal belongings to the Australian War Memorial, where they still are on display.



His name is still honoured by:

- the John Edmondson VC Rest Area at Rose's Lagoon on the Remembrance Driveway from Sydney to Canberra;

- John Edmondson VC Memorial RSL Club, Liverpool, NSW;

- a plaque in the Walk of Honour in Baylis Street, in his birthplace of Wagga Wagga, NSW;

- the school hall in his former school, Hurlstone Agricultural High School, is named after him;

- a high school in the Horningsea Park district in NSW is named after him;

- the Sydney suburb of Edmondson Park, and Edmondson Street in the Sydney suburb of North Ryde, are named in his honour.

- Edmondson St in Campbell situated in Canberra, within 400m of the War Memorial is also named in his honour.

- Freemasons' Lodge Victoria Cross No. 928 of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory (UGLNSWACT) which meets in Fairfield, NSW, was formed in honour of Cpl J H Edmondson, who was posted to Holsworthy Army Barracks, and who was an attending member of Liverpool Lodge.

- The Edmondson VC Club at ARTC Kapooka, an outer suburb of Wagga Wagga, is also named in his honour.

John Edmonson Memorial Park images:


Mother’s letter:

Read John Edmondson’s mother’s letter of appreciation to those who had written to her, by clicking on:



The grave of NX15705 Corporal John Hurst Edmondson VC, of the 2/17th Australian Infantry Battalion, Tobruk War Cemetery

John Edmondson (far right) with his fellow platoon members in the Libyan desert.

John Edmondson’s mother and father at Admiralty House, on the posthumous presentation of John Edmonson’s VC, which Mrs Edmonson is folding.

Australian soldiers man frontline trenches on the defensive perimeter at Tobruk.


War Memorial at Collector:

Places of Pride

About 55 kilometres north Canberra lies the small village of Collector. The War Memorial at Collector is a simple four-sided obelisk. Names are engraved on two sides, one of which is dedicated “Fallen in their country’s service”.

Many of the 44 men who enlisted from Collector were related by birth or by marriage and include brothers and cousins. Like young men in so many rural communities, sometimes all the sons in a family enlisted. At times, the father too enlisted. All too often, they didn’t all return. The men from Collector were farmers, labourers, railway workers, graziers and numerous manual trades.

Alfred and Eliza Noble only had two sons. The first, Alfred Laurence, died of wounds in March 1917, serving with the 35th Infantry Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force in France, having begun his service in the 55th Infantry Battalion. He is buried in the Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery at Armentieres in France. His brother Joshua was killed in September of the following year, whilst serving with the 55th Infantry Battalion in France. Both men had enlisted on the same day, although Joshua wasn’t sent to France until September 1916, three months after his brother. Their names are on the Collector memorial.

The family name Sheridan features seven times on the memorial. Cousins Stanley, Harry and William all died. Light Horseman Stanley was killed in action at Gallipoli. Harry and William met their fates in France. The 1916/17 winter in France and Belgium was the harshest in over a generation and many men fell sick in those horrific conditions. Harry Sheridan contracted pneumonia in April 1917 and although hospitalised, died just eight days after admission. William Henry Sheridan was serving with the 35th Infantry Battalion at Villers-Bretonneux when he was killed in action on the 8th of August 1918. He lies in the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Picardie, France.
Thirteen of the 44 men who had enlisted from Collector died, but Stanley Sheridan’s three brothers, Harold, John and Ernest, were among those who returned home. Harry Sheridan’s brother Fred also returned. The impact of the war on the small village was significant, with the death toll of those who had enlisted being twice the national average. Even those not directly related would have known many of those men who enlisted from Collector. Most of those who survived returned changed by their wartime experiences, and many left the district soon after their return.

If we consider the relationships between those men, perhaps we can begin to imagine the community-wide grief the Collector War Memorial represents.

Lest We Forget

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