100th anniversary of Victoria Cross award

Saturday 23 July marked the 100th anniversary of former Redwood Park local John Leak being awarded the Victoria Cross.

John Leak

Private John Leak. There is a framed photograph of Private Leak in the Tea Tree Gully Civic Reception.

Private Leak received the highest award for gallantry for his action during the battle of Pozières in France.

He was born in Portsmouth, England in 1892 and came to Australia as a young boy. In January 1915, Leak enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force  and served on Gallipoli.

He next accompanied his unit to France, in time to be thrown into bloody fighting at an intense battle at Pozières. Leak’s solo attack with bombs and a bayonet on a German post stood out.

His citation reads:

No. 2053 Pte. John Leak, Aus. Infy.
‘For most conspicuous bravery. He was one of a party which finally captured an enemy strong point. At one assault, when the enemy’s bombs were outranging ours, Private Leak jumped out of the trench, ran forward under heavy machine-gun fire at close range, and threw three bombs into the enemy’s bombing post. He then jumped into the post and bayonetted three unwounded enemy bombers.

Later, when the enemy in overwhelming numbers was driving his party back, he was always the last to withdraw at each stage, and kept on throwing bombs.

His courage and energy had such an effect on the enemy that, on the arrival of reinforcements, the whole trench was recaptured.’

Later in the war, after his heroic efforts at Pozières Private Leak was severly gassed, but managed to survive and returned to Australia.

After a few jobs, Leak became a garage proprietor in Western Australia, before retiring to Redwood Park South Australia, where he lived and later died.

Leak suffered greatly from his experiences during the war and tried to sell his Victoria Cross medal several times in his life.

Bravest of the Brave Exhibition

This moving exhibition tells the stories of the eight South Australians awarded the Victoria Cross in World War I.

Up close

It will be on display for everyone to see in the Tea Tree Gully Library throughout October and tells the personal stories of eight ordinary men who on one day of their lives, under extraordinary circumstances, demonstrated extraordinary heroism for their comrades and country.

All of the men have some kind of connection to South Australia. Some were born or educated here, some enlisted here, while others lived here either before or after the war.

The eight men were Arthur Blackburn, Phillip Davey, Roy Inwood, Jorgen Jensen, John Leak, Arthur Sullivan, Lawrence Weathers and James Park Woods. They came from all walks of life, both from the city and the country. Among them was a lawyer, a banker, a former miner, teamster and a vigneron.

Although it serves to commemorate their bravery and sacrifice, Bravest of the Brave nevertheless attempts to also show how the war affected these men for the rest of their lives.


Bravest of the Brave is one of many projects that has been prepared to commemorate the centenary of World War I in 2014. The exhibition gives an introduction to World War I and South Australia’s part in the conflict, a brief history of the Victoria Cross and a short profile of each of the eight men.

It will be on display throughout October.