TRIFECTA FOR BONHAMS & GOODMAN AS THIRD RARE VICTORIA CROSS IS OFFERED FOR SALE – Jackson’s VC citation was published in the London Gazette on 8 September, 1916 and reads as follows:
‘For most conspicuous bravery. On the return from a successful raid several members of the raiding party were seriously wounded in “No Man’s Land” by shell fire. Private Jackson got back safely, and after handing over a prisoner whom he had brought in, immediately went out again under very heavy shell fire and assisted in bringing in a wounded man. He then went out again, and with a sergeant was bringing another wounded man when his arm was blown off by a shell, and the sergeant was rendered unconscious. He then returned to our trenches, obtained assistance, and went out again to look for his two wounded comrades. He set a splendid example of pluck and determination. His work has always been marked by the greatest coolness and bravery’.

“Although this is the third VC we have offered for auction, I still find myself marvelling at the bravery of Victoria Cross recipients”, says Giles Moon, National Head of Collectables at Bonhams & Goodman. “Each soldier’s background is so different yet they all share a fearless quality we find hard to comprehend in today’s society. When you think of an eighteen year old running out into gunfire with a severed arm to save the lives of others, one’s mind boggles. It is the unique story behind each Victoria Cross that makes them so collectable – no two stories are the same,” adds Moon.

John William Alexander Jackson was born on 13 September 1897 on Glengower station, near Gunbar in rural NSW. In order to enlist with the army, he lied about his age, claiming to be a year older than he actually was. He set sail for Egypt in May 1915 for military training. From there he was sent to Gallipoli where he fought at Kaiakij Aghala (Hill 60). Six weeks after arriving at Gallipoli, Jackson was hospitalised with severe dysentery. He recuperated in a military hospital in Cairo and on 15 February 1916 rejoined his battalion and embarked for France.

After his heroics, Jackson was taken from France to England for medical treatment and on 30 June 1916 the remainder of his right arm was amputated. Jackson remained in England to recuperate and eventually set sail for Sydney on 4 May 1917. It is said that upon his return to Australia, the attention he had attracted through his actions embarrassed him greatly.

After the war, Jackson moved around the country, trying his hand at numerous jobs including buying and selling horses and skins, managing a greengrocery business and he was for a time a clerk with the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage & Drainage Board in Sydney. He married and had one daughter however divorced and moved to Melbourne in 1953 to take up a position as a Commissionaire and Inquiry attendant at the Melbourne Town Hall. He died in Melbourne at the Austin Hospital on 5 August 1959.

Like the families of Captain Shout and Lance Corporal Gordon (the recipients of other VCs auctioned by Bonhams & Goodman), Jackson’s descendants are selling his medals and other material relating to their courageous ancestor in order to distribute the proceeds equitably amongst family members.

Notable philanthropist Kerry Stokes, who has a passion for military history, was the buyer of the previous Victoria Crosses for which he paid $1.2million and $480,000. He generously gifted them to the Australian War Memorial on behalf of the Returned Soldiers League (RSL).

The Collectables auction will also feature other WWI medals belonging to Gunner Sidney Loch. Although the medals are routine campaign medals, Loch is a well known war veteran who came to notoriety after writing a factual account of his experiences at war. The book The Straights Impregnable was originally marketed as a work of fiction. However, as the war dragged on and casualties multiplied, the publishers inserted a statement into the book stating that it was actually a factual and autobiographical account. The book was immediately banned by the censors in what was arguably a very propagandist move.

The Collectables auction will take place on Sunday 11 November at 12noon at Bonhams & Goodman’s Melbourne rooms – Level 1, 540 Malvern Road, Prahran VIC 3181