Charlie McCallum, DCM 2/14th Infantry Battalion

On 29 August 1942 the Victorian 2/14th Infantry Battalion was engaged in heavy fighting with the Japanese at Isurava on the Kokoda track. As the weight of enemy soldiers became too heavy, 12 platoon, B Company was forced to withdraw.

At this desperate time the wounded Corporal Charlie McCallum proved his extraordinary valour by singlehandedly holding off the advancing enemy, allowing his comrades to withdraw in good order to safety. McCallum coolly stood his ground with a Bren gun in his right hand and a Thompson sub-machine gun in his left, as scores of Japanese closed in on his position.

At all times in action, McCallum was admirably calm and steady. On this occasion his utter disregard for his own safety and his example of devotion to duty and magnificent courage was an inspiration to all our troops in the area. His gallant stand and the number of casualties he alone inflicted checked the enemy’s advance and allowed the withdrawal to proceed unhindered and without loss.

Charles McCallum’s Citation

McCallum’s foes came so close to him in the encounter that one was able to wrench a piece of equipment from his utility belt. When he himself withdrew from the fray, his comrades counted the bodies of 40 Japanese soldiers.

McCallum was recommended for the Victoria Cross by his superiors but received the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) instead.

McCallum survived Isurava but his days were numbered. Charlie McCallum was killed in action a week later on 8 September at Brigade Hill. He was an only son and his mother proudly carried his medal in her handbag for the rest of her life.

Text courtesy of Neil Sharkey, Shrine of Remembrance

Charlie McCallum