Corporal Lawrence Carthage Weathers Awarded VC
The citation for the Victoria Cross awarded to Corporal Lawrence Carthage Weathers commends his “conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty”.
Lawrence Weathers was born on 14 May 1890 in Te Koparu, New Zealand. One of eight children, his parents John Joseph and Ellen Frances, were both originally from Adelaide and the family returned to South Australia when he was seven years old. They settled in the rural mid-north and Weathers attended Snowtown Primary School. By the time the war broke out in 1915, Lawrence was married with two children, living in the suburb of Parkside and working as an undertaker.
His two brothers both served with the 9th Light Horse Regiment. His older brother Thomas died of wounds at Gallipoli on 15 June 1915. His younger brother Joseph briefly served in Australia and was discharged at his own request in November 1916.
Laurence Weathers enlisted as a private in the Australian Imperial Force in Adelaide on 8 February 1916 and joined the 43rd Battalion. His unit was deployed to the Western Front in France and Belgium in late December. The first major action of his battalion was the Battle of Messines. He was one of 122 casualties in a night-time operation to capture the Oosttaverne Line when he suffered a gunshot wound to the leg on 10 June 1917. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on 21 March 1918 and in late May required further medical treatment following a gas attack near Villers-Bretonneux on 26 May 1918, that caused 230 casualties among the 43rd Battalion. Weathers again returned to his unit a month later and participated in the Battle of Hamel in July, the Battle of Amiens in August and the Battle of Mont Saint-Quentin in September.
It was at Mont Saint-Quentin that he was recommended for the award of the Victoria Cross. His citation reads:
‘For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on the 2nd September 1918, north of Peronne, when with an advanced bombing party. The attack having been held up by a strongly held enemy trench, Corporal Weathers went forward alone under heavy fire and attacked the enemy with bombs. Then, returning to our lines for a further supply of bombs, he again went forward with three comrades and attacked under very heavy fire. Regardless of personal danger, he mounted the enemy parapet and bombed the trench, and with the support of his comrades, captured 180 prisoners and three machine guns. His valour and determination resulted in the successful capture of the final objective and saved the lives of many of his comrades.’
It was less than a month later, in actions at Louverval, France, that he was wounded by artillery fire while sheltering in a trench. He died of his wounds soon after, not knowing he would receive the Victoria Cross, which was gazetted on 24 December 1918. Lawrence Weathers is buried at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Unicorn Cemetery, Vendhuile, France.
On receiving Corporal Weathers’ Victoria Cross into the Australian War Memorial permanent collection in October 2016, Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the Memorial referred to the honour of safeguarding such a legacy –
“There is one particular legacy of this institution, conceived and driven by our founder Charles Bean, and that is the belief that a life of value is one ultimately spent in the service of other human beings, irrespective of the cost to oneself….. Weathers paid the ultimate sacrifice and for that we owe an immense debt. We do what we can to repay this debt by honouring his story in the Hall of Valour, as we do for so many others, every day”.