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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Buckley, Alexander Henry (1891–1918)

by Lionel Wigmore

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

Alexander Buckley, 1918

Alexander Buckley, 1918

Australian War Memorial, P01421.002

Alexander Henry Buckley (1891-1918), soldier and farmer, was born on 22 July 1891 at Warren, New South Wales, fourth child of James Buckley, selector, and his wife Julia, née Falkanhagan, both of whom were Victorian-born. He was educated at home by his parents and later farmed with his father on Homebush, a property near Gulargambone.

On 3 February 1916 Buckley enlisted as a private in the Australian Imperial Force and embarked for England in June with reinforcements for the 54th Battalion. He joined the battalion at Flers, France, on 17 November, served on the Somme in the winter of 1916-17 and in 1917 fought in the battles of Bullecourt, Polygon Wood and Broodseinde; he was made temporary corporal in November. Next April his unit moved into the Villers-Bretonneux sector and in August took part in the Battle of Amiens.

On 1 September 1918 Buckley's battalion was involved in an operation aimed at clearing the area between Mont St Quentin and Péronne, a medieval walled town surrounded by a moat. The 54th's task was to take the ground between Péronne and the River Somme, then move in on Péronne 'if not too strongly opposed'. Advancing in drizzling rain and under heavy fire, it took the first line of enemy trenches but was held up by a nest of machine-gunners. Accompanied by Corporal A. C. Hall, Buckley stalked these gunners and rushed the post, shooting four men and taking twenty-two prisoners. The Germans retreated to Péronne, entering the city by a large bridge which they destroyed. The only remaining bridge on the battalion's front was a foot-bridge defended by machine-guns. With three other members of his company, Buckley tried to force his way across under heavy fire but was killed in the attempt. He was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, the citation for which praised his 'initiative, resource and courage'. He was buried in the Péronne communal cemetery extension.

Select Bibliography

  • C. E. W. Bean, The Australian Imperial Force in France, 1918 (Syd, 1942)
  • L. Wigmore (ed), They Dared Mightily (Canb, 1963)
  • London Gazette, 14 Dec 1918
  • Reveille (Sydney), 1 Nov 1939
  • records (Australian War Memorial).

Additional Resources

Citation details

Lionel Wigmore, 'Buckley, Alexander Henry (1891–1918)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 27 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

View the front pages for Volume 7

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