Stories of Remembrance

Army, Second World War (1939-45)The bravery of Private Bruce Kingsbury VC,

Recounts note how Kingsbury took down many of the enemy soldiers in his charge towards them, firing many accurate shots and doing much damage
Georgia Lee, A student trying to rediscover, remember and share the stories of the past

A story that has always rung out from the history books about World War Two was that of Private Bruce Kingsbury of the 2/14th Battalion. Private Kingsbury was recalled as a quietly spoken, gentle kind of bloke by Peter Fitzsimons in his national best selling book “Kokoda”. Bruce Kingsbury was from Preston, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria. He enlisted in 1940 and was able to serve his country for two long years before his days came to an end. During his time in service, Kingsbury was a part of the North African Campaign, the Syria-Lebanon Campaign, the Battle of Jezzine as well as the South West Pacific Theatre. His final place of service was the Kokoda Track Campaign. The story of Bruce Kingsbury calls out because of the presentation of a Victorian Cross, the highest decoration for gallantry “in the face of the enemy”. Of course that is the public honour; but perhaps it is his moments of bravery, altruism or just straight courage that should be told. Letters found in Kingsbury’s records describe the event.

Kingsbury’s final tale started on the 29th of August in the Battle of Isurava. The Battalion headquarters were facing imminent danger and conflict after a breach of their barriers by enemy troops. In response to this situation a counter-attack was ordered by a Colonel Key. Although not being required to go, because he was of another platoon Pte. Kingsbury was remembered to have quickly volunteered. In ”Kokoda” Fitzsimons describes Kingsbury as running down the hill towards advancing enemy troops. Kingsbury had apparently seen one of his friends desperately trying to protect the headquarters, despite suffering from many injuries which included shrapnel damage to his face and hands and gunshot wounds to his legs. Kingsbury apparently grabbed his friend’s Bren gun and had charged towards the oncoming attack. Recounts note how Kingsbury took down many of the enemy soldiers in his charge towards them, firing many accurate shots and doing much damage. This apparently gave time and motivation to his comrades who had been watching the event unfold before them. Thanks to Kingsbury’s actions they were re-energised, able to fight back and regained a safe position around headquarters.Sadly, as the Australian troops started coming to join Kingsbury he was fatally hit in the chest by a Japanese sniper as he was reloading his gun. Although Kingsbury was in his final moments, he was not alone. His best mate, Alan Avery, who was apparently with him the entire time, released an unknown number of bullets before going to Kingsbury and cradling him in his arms. By this time the opposition had begun their retreat which allowed Avery an opportunity to place Kingsbury onto his back and carry him up the hill to the headquarters.

Private Bruce Kingsbury is buried at Bomana War Cemetery. After the battle it was requested and then approved that he be a recipient of the Victorian Cross. Kingsbury’s actions were recognised and he was rewarded. Many great men lost their lives bravely and their stories should be told as well. No individual’s story is too small that it is of lesser importance to another. They were all human beings, doing what they thought was right in serving their country. Kingsbury stands out because of his actions, long before his award. His story will not be forgotten. Lest We Forget.

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