31 Battalion Shoulder Patch
Albert Medal in Gold

3347 Sergeant David Emmett Coyne
31st Infantry Battalion,
8th Infantry Brigade,
5th Division
1st Australian Imperial Force 1914-1919

This file last updated 19 May, 2024 16:48


The following information and chronological table are a summary of the entries from the World War One service record of Sergeant David Emmett Coyne, recipient of the Albert Medal in Gold for Life Saving on Land (AM), who died of the injuries received as the result of throwing himself on a grenade to protect his soldiers.

He was initially recommended for the Victoria Cross, but as the action did not involve engagement with the enemy, he was awarded the AM in Gold, the only such award to an Australian in WW1 and one of only 12 to Army for the period 1915-1919. Other Australian awards were of the Bronze class. Had he lived, he would have been able to exchange the AM for the George Cross - the civilian equivalent of the Victoria Cross, on the discontinuation of the Albert Medal in Gold, in 1949.

That said, the initial assesssment that David Coyne was accidentally wounded was later officially overturned and he was then considered to have been Wounded in Action (WIA) and Died of Wounds (DOW). I consider this to be a reasonable conclusion, as the duty being carried out was not in any way a training exercise.

David Coyne's rank progression and reversions puzzle me, David himself twice had occasion to query AIF Headquarters concerning his rank. The first enquiry received no reply but the second saw him referred to again as "Corporal". This is not the first record I have looked at where there were a series of promotions which must have been temporary or acting appointments, although not marked as such, followed by reversion to substantive rank. But this record is extreme in that context, and I am yet to be absolutely certain of the ranks held, as there are times when there are conflicts between the records in France and England and those in Australia.

Local and temporary promotions were also often removed when the wearer was hospitalised or detached from the unit, which makes sense from the point of view of the local commanders who would then reallocate the temporary rank from within the unit, generally when the soldier originally holding the rank returned to duty.

I note, however, that David was a commanding physical specimen at just shy of 6 feet tall and 12 stone at a time when many soldiers were lucky to be 5 foot 6 inches tall. It is possible that he may well have played a role in subduing the mutiny on the Army Transport, and that perhaps as a much-hated Regimental Policeman (the Regimental Sergeant Major's hit squad) or in a similar role, he may have earned his Extra Duties Pay the hard way.

Prepared for Madonna Dwyer by Clive Mitchell-Taylor - 26 Aug 2018. It is the most complex record that I have had to decipher, particularly as there is a lot of additional material available that is not within the record itself, but is germane to it, added to which, there is not much that is actually in chronological order.

There are a number of sources for information about David Coyne. His Service record is a large document. It can be viewed as a single document or in three parts and is followed by the other data sources.

  1. Complete Service Record,
  2. Service Record Part 1,
  3. Service Records Part 2,
  4. Service RecordPart 3,
  5. Roll of Honour,
  6. Embarkation Roll,
  7. First World War Nominal Roll ,
  8. Medal recommendation (Army Form W3121) made by the Commanding Officer of the 31st Infantry Battalion, and
  9. Australian War Memorial Honours record. This wording of the nomination is also transcribed below.

Schoolgirl Amy Stratford won the Premier's Anzac Prize 1915 for her presentation on David Coyne.

Abbreviations and Acronyms

Abbreviations or acronyms which have a dotted underline can be expanded by moving the cursor over the term - e.g. WIA. The cursor will be replaced by ? and the expanded abbreviation will be displayed. This is gradually being incorporated into the site, replacing the the current expansion of abbreviations. There may be a discernable delay of about a second before the expansion is first provided.

There is also a separate list of abbreviations which is available through the menu at the top of this page or the hyperlink here.  Abbreviations are inconsistent, even within a single occurence where a term is abbreviated.

There are a number of sources for tracing abbreviations used in Australian and New Zealand service records. Those used when operating with the British or US forces can generally be found, especially in World War 1. Abbreviations used solely within Australia in WW2 are most difficult to trace, particularly when they are regional. Sometimes a 'best guess' is the only answer.

Duplicated Pages

Some of the service information may appear to be duplicated although individual occurrences are not in the same order and different abbreviations used. This occurs when the unit and Army records are amalgamated upon discharge or death in Service.

Service Numbers

Service numbers in WW1 were unique to the unit (e.g. Battalion) or Corps (e.g. Artillery). In WW2 Service Numbers were unique to the State in which they were allotted. For further information about identity numbers for Service personnel, see Regimental and Service Numbers

Dates of Occurrence and Reporting

The date of reporting an incident may be hours, days or months after the date on which incident actually occurred.

The original service record is amended only when the incident is reported which means that events are not necessarily recorded in in strict chronological sequence. This is the date shown on the left of the page of the original record, and also on the left in my transcription but readers should note that at times there may be no date of reporting at all, particularly when service personel are repatriated for discharge at the end of hostilities.

To assist the reader, when transcribing the military record I have done my best to record events in their chronological sequence. This is date is on the right of the page of the original record and also on the right in my transcription.

For clarity I have transcribed all dates into the format d MMM yyyy.

Memorial Plaques

Memorial Plaque - Thomas James Shepherd
Image courtesy of Mark Franzi, grand nephew of Thomas

Memorial Plaques were issued after the First World War to the next-of-kin of all British Empire service personnel who were killed as a result of war.

The plaques are 120mm in diameter, were cast in bronze and came to be know as the "Dead Man's Penny" because of the similarity in appearance to the much smaller penny coin.

1,355,00 plaques were issued, which used a total of 450 tons of bronze. 1,500 plaques were issued to commemorate women.

Carter Preston's winning design includes an image of Brittania holding a trident and standing with a lion. The designer's initials, E.CR,P,, appear above the front paw. In her outstretched left hand Britannia holds an olive wreath above the ansate [handled] tablet bearing the deceased's name cast in raised letters. The name does not include rank since there was to be no distiction between sacrifices made by different individuals.

Below the name table, to the right of the lion is an oak spray with acorns. Two dolphins swim around Britannia, symbolizing Britain's sea power, and at the bottom is a second lion tearing apart the German eagle.

The reverse is blank and the plaques were issued in a pack with a commemorative scroll from King George V, although sometimes the letter and scroll arrived first.

Enlistment Details

Service Number



David Emmett Coyne

Born at

Marian, Mackay, Queensland


19 years 9 months as at 25 Jan 1916
[Actual birth dates not recorded, only age on enlistment]

Trade or Calling


Marital Status

Not married

Next of Kin

Father - David Coyne, Marian, Mackay, Queensland

Previous Military Service


Attested at

Rockhampton, Queensland

Date of Enlistment

25 Jan 1916


5 foot 11¼ inches [181cm]


11 stone 13 pounds [167lbs or 76Kg]


37 inches [94cm]







Religious Denomination

Roman Catholic


31st Battalion, 9th Brigade, 5th Division
67th Battalion, 17th Brigade, 6th Division
[I have not included any information concerning the latter, as it did not leave England and was disbanded before being properly established.]


Chronological Events

Medical     Other     Disciplinary







25 Jan 1916


Assigned to 11th Depot Battalion for training

1 Feb 1916 to 25 Feb 1916


Assigned to No 1 Depot

10 Mar 1916 to 27 Mar 1916


Assigned to 11th Machine Gun Company

28 Mar 1916 to 16 Apr 1916


Assigned to 7th Reinforcement, to 31st Infantry Battion

27 Apr 1916

It is difficult to determine the rationale for the movement between training units and assignments. It may represent confusion about the nature of the requirements in France, or, given the early promotions, attempts to best employ the soldier.


Transferred to 47th Battalion

9 Mar 1916

Transfer not implemented and the entry deleted. The 47th was a troubled unit which mutinied aboard the "SEONG CHOON" on this trip, because of the poor conditions. This potential transfer may have been a result of these issues.


Embarked from Brisbane on HMAT "SEANG CHOON" (A49)

4 May 1916

Via Hobart


Disembarked Suez

15 Jun 1916

The Australian Army contingent withdrawn from Gallipoli was in Egypt at this time, and while the English training areas were in heavy use, the Australian reinforcements were training in Egypt - and, of course, securing the Suez Canal.


Appointed Corporal with extra duties pay (EDP)

8 Jul 1916

A number of rank appointments were the subject of an enquiry which on 9 Apr 98 confirmed the changes listed herein. In Egypt.


Taken on strength of 5th Division Details at Tel el Kebir.

9 Jul 1916

'Details' normally means 'Working Parties' required for a specific purpose


Reverted to Private

18 Jul 1916



Reported sick to 2nd Australian Stationary Hospital, with Bronchitis, and admitted

18 Jul 1916


Transferred to 2nd Australian General Hospital with Pyrexia (Fever) of unknown origin (P.O.U.O.)

21 Jul 1916


Discharged from 2nd Australian General Hospital (2 AGH)

3 Jul 1916

There is no record of transfer between AGH's, which may mean that there is a transcription error by the clerk amending the record at the time.






Embarked per "FRANCONIA" from Alexandria

2 Aug 1916

"FRANCONIA" was a Cunard Ocean Liner.


Marched in to 8th Training Battalion

22 Aug 1916


Promoted Corporal with extra duties pay (EDP)

31 Jul 1916


Reverted to Private

25 Oct 1916


Promoted to Corporal with Extra Duty Pay (EDP)

9 Nov 1916


Embarked at Folkstone on SS "GOLDEN EAGLE" and proceeded overseas to France

17 Dec 1916


Marched in to 5th Australian Division Base Depot (5 ADBD) from England. Reverted to rank of Private.

18 Dec 1918


To be Acting Sergeant with Extra Duty Pay

20 Dec 1916


Marched out from 5 ADBD to 31st Battalion.

23 Dec 1916


Taken on Strength of 31st Battalion.

24 Dec 1916

Lance Corporal

Appointed Lance Corporal

25 Dec 1916


Reverted to Private

29 Dec 1916


Query to AIF Headquarters re Acting Rank

16 Jan 1917


To Hospital, ANZ C.R.S. (Casualty Receiving Station), sick, P.U.O.

21 Jan 1917

Pyrexia (Fever) of unknown origin


Admitted to Hospital

21 Jan 1917


Transferred to 38th Casualty Clearing Station (38 CCS)

23 Jan 1917


Transferred to 22nd Ambulance Train

25 Jan 1917


Admitted to 1st Australian General Hospital (1 AGH), Rouen

26 Jan 1917


Transferred from 1 AGH to England per "LANFRANC" from Havre, with Influenza

31 Jan 1917


Admitted to Volunteer Aid Hospital, Cheltenham, England for observation

31 Jan 1917


Officer in Charge, Base Records, Melbourne, sends telegram to D. Coyne, Miriam [sic] Queensland, Mackay

12 Feb 1917






David Coyne, Marian telegram to Base Records, Melbourne
Your wire advise if David Emmet [sic] Coyne or David Steven Coyne admitted Hospital any particulars what Hospital information Not sufficient to show if my son reply urgent.

16 Feb 1917

Obviously another person, possibly a relative, known to David Coyne Snr also enlisted.


Lettergram to David Coyne, Marian Queensland from Base Records


16 Feb 1917


Queried HQ AIF re rank

25 Feb 1917



Lettergram from Base Records Office to David Coyne, Maroan, Queensland


28 Feb 1917


Discharged from Volunteer Aid Hospital

9 Mar 1917


Admitted to 2nd Auxilliary Hospital, St Marylebone Schools from Headquarters, Southall, England

12 Mar 1917

Trench feet and fever


Discharged to Headquarters, Southall, England

12 Mar 1917


Marched in to No 2 Convalescent Hospital Depot (2 CD) from Southall Hospital

12 Mar 1917


Base Records Office Lettergram to David Coyne, Marian, Queensland


25 Mar 1917


Marched out from 2 CD to 3 CD and Admitted to 3 CD

21 Apr 1917


Classified B1A3 Medical status

22 Apr 1917

B1 - able to march 5 miles, see to shoot with glasses and hear well.
A3 - Returned Expeditionary Force men, ready except for physical condition.


Transferred to 67th Battalion and Taken on Strength from 31st Battalion.

1 May 1917

When England requested Australia to contribute a 6th Division it commenced being established in England from February of 1917.

The 16th Infantry Brigade was to include the 61st, 62nd, 63rd and 69th Infantry Battalions while the 17th Infantry Brigade was to include the 65th, 66th, 67th and 70th Infantry Battalions.

Heavy casualties in the fighting at Bullecourt in April and May, and at Messsines in June caused the project to be abandoned and the 6th Division was broken up in September 1917.

Windmill Hill, Hurdcott, England


To be Temporary Corporal

15 May 1917


On Command, at Bombing School

4 Jun 1917

Lakehurst, England


Qualified as an Instructor or Assistant Instructor at the 40th Course of Instruction at the Southern Command Bombing School.

4 Jun 1917
16 Jun 1917

Tamworth, England


Promoted to Sergeant

5 Jun 1917


March in from Course of Instruction at Bombing School in Lakehurst, England

18 Jun 1917


Transferred to 31st Battalion on March Out to 69th Drafts Battalion

19 Sep 1917

On the disbandment of the nascent 6th Division noted above.


Proceeds overseas to France from 8th Training Battalion

15 Oct 1917


Marches in to 5th Australian Division Base Depot (5 ADBD), Havre, France

15 Oct 1917


Marches out to Unit

18 Oct 1917


Taken on Strength of 31st Battalion from 67th Battalion.

26 Oct 1917


Detached for duty with 8th Brigade Sports Unit.

23 Feb 1918


To HQ Physical and Bay Fighting School, ex 8th Brigade Sports Unit

17 Mar 1918


Rejoined 8th Brigade Sports Unit

25 Mar 1917


Wounded accidentally - multiple bomb wounds to legs, arms, chest and neck.

To 14th AFA

Admitted to 61 CCS

15 May 1918

Officially described as "Died of Wounds Accidentally Received", but later amended to "Died of Wounds Received in Action" (WIA, DOW)

Buried at Vignacourt Military Cemetery 8 miles North North West of Amiens by Chaplain the Reverend A.C. O'Neill, attached to 61 CCS.


Cpl J.E. Hanks of Estates Branch, Administrative Headquarters, London certifies that the following is a true copy of the Will extracted from the paybook of No. 3347 Sgt Coyne, David Emmett, 31st Battalion.


In the event of my death I give £10 to my neice Edna Coyne £10 to my nephew Martin Vaughan. To Bertie Lake No.1. Gordon Terrace / King Street Coston, Manchester I also bequeath £10 in grateful recognition of my happy stay there. The remaining part of my property I leave to my mother.
Signature. David Emmett Coyne.
Rank and Unit ____________________
Date 4th May 1918

12 Jun 1918


Australion Imperial Force Kit Store forwards effects of Sgt Coyne to Base Records Office, Melbourne for despatch to Mother, Mrs David Coyne, Marian, Mackay, Queensland from 3rd Echelon, being:
5 pieces of Balloon Silk, German Badge, Grenade Badge, 2 Silk Handkerchiefs

14 Jun 1918

No. 3347 Sergt. D. COYNE, D. Coy. 31st Batt.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Report on Accidental or Self-Inflicted Injuries



Date of Casualty

15th May 1918




Number, Rank, Name, and Unit of Injured Man

No 3347 Sergt. D. Coyne




Nature, Location and Severity of Injury

Multiple Bomb wounds all over body. Fractured right leg. Injuries severe and accidental.

(Sgd) T.R. Jagger (Capt) R.A.M.C.1



Short statement of circumstances of the case. (Signed statements of witnesses to be attached to this form.)

Statements attached.

(Sgd) N.M. Freeman Lt.Col. C.O. 31st Bn. A.I.F.



Commanding Officer's opinion as to whether the man was -


(a) In the performance of Military Duty



(b) to blame


(Sgd) N.M. Freeman Lt. Col. C.O. 31st Bn. A.I.F.
19th May 1918



(a) Opinion of the G.O.C2 Brigade


(b) disciplinary action taken or proposed, whether against injured man or another

No discipliary action

(Sgd) C. Davis. Lt. Col.
Commanding 8th Brigade   20th May 1918

To 3rd Echelon3 Army "A"

Fowarded with reference to my Casualty Wire No ________ Date _________

(Sgd) E.M. Ralph. Lt. Col.
5th AUs. Division

To D.A.G.4 G.H.Q. 3rd Echelon

Forwarded for record. This casualty is classified as Died of Injuries (Acc. received)

(Sgd) H.S.G. Hall Capt. for D.A.G. GHQ, 3rd Echelon
Date 29th Sept. 1918


2. G.O.C.

3. 3rd Echelon
4. D.A.G.

Royal Army Medical Corps
General Officer Commanding
Administrative Headquarters
Deputy Adjutant General


Statement of evidence re accidental wounding of No. 3347. Sergeant D. Coyne. "D" Coy., 31st Battn.
[Attachment to the Report above]


Lieut. H.E. Ford 31st Bn. states:-
I am the Platoon Commander of No 14 Platoon, Sgt. Coyne being my platoon sergeant. As he holds certificates as a fully qualified bombing instructor, he has been ordered by me to periodically inspect the bomb supplies to ensure they were in good order. At the time the accident occured, I was at Company Headquarters, so am unable to state how it happened.
(Sgd) H.E. Ford. Lieut.


No. 801a L/Cpl W.E. Martin D. Coy. 31st Bn. states:-
I am a member of the Lewis Gun section of No. 14 platoon about 11.30 p.m. on the night of the 14th inst. I heard Sergt. Coyne say he was going to test one of the bombs that were in the trench. I also heard him say to some of the men "Make sure there's nobody out in front". From my dugout I saw him put one foot on the firestep and swing his arm back to throw the bomb. I cannot say whether he struck his hand on the parados of the trench or whether his foot slipped. I next heard him cry out "Get out of the trench. There's a live bomb in it." I heard the explosion and immediately afterwards I heard Pte O'Sullivan ask "Is anyone hurt?" Sergt. Coyne replied "Yes, Sully, I got the whole issue. I lay on it, thinking you chaps couldn't get out in time."
(Sgnd) LC W.E. Martin.


No.2496 Pte. R.J. Sullivan, 31st Bn. states:-
"I am a member of the Lewis gun section of No. 14 platoon. About 11.45pm on the night of the 14th inst. I saw Sergt. Coyne come into our trench and heard him say he was going to test one of the bombs. There were six of us beside Sergt. Coyne in the trench at the time. Some being in their dugout shelters. As it was dark at the time, I couldn't saw [sic] how the accident happened I next heard Sergt. Coyne say "Get out of the trench. I've dropped a bomb in it." I next heard the explosion and immediately asked "Is anyone hurt?" Serg. Coyne replied "Yes Sully, I've got the full issue. I laid on the bomb. I didn't think you had time to get out." He then asked me "Is anyone else hit?" I told him "No." He answered "I'm glad of that". I've seen Sergt. Coyne in the trench several times inspecting the supply of bombs.
(Sgnd) R.J. Sullivan.


No 2126 Pte. R.H. Dann, 31st Btn. states:-
"I am a member of the Lewis Gun Section of No 14 Plaoon. Before midnight on the 14th inst. Sergt. Coyne came in to our trench. about ten minutes after he came in to the trench I heard him say he was going to test a bomb. I saw him get on the firestep and prepare to throw by bringin his arm right back. He must either have hit his hand on the back of the trench or else slipped, as I saw him fall. I coudn't see him after he fell as it was dark in the trench itself. I next heard him say "Go for your life, boys, I've let the bomb drop." After the explosion, I heard Sullivan sing out"Is anyone hurt?" I heard Sergt. Coyne say "I've got the full share of it." I didn't hear anything else.
(Sgd) R.H. Dann


No 508a Pte. S. Armstrong, 31st Bn. states:-
"I am a member of the Lewis Gun Section of No. 14 Platoon. I don't know the exact time, but between 11 p.m. and 12 midnight on the 14th instant I saw Sergt. Coyne come in to our trench. About five minutes after I heard him say he was going to throw one of the bombs to see if they were any good. I heard him tell some of the men to see if there was anybody out in front. I saw him fall off the firestep and next thing said "Look out, the bomb's in the trench." I was close to him at the time and saw him feeling in the botttom of the trench. I started to get away and then heard the explosion. I heard Sullivan say "Is anyone hit?" Sergt. Coyne said "Yes, I've got the lot of it." I didn't hear anything else.
(Sgd) S. Armstrong


No. 4535 Pte G.K. Gollagher,31st Bn. states:-
"I am a member of the Lewis Gun Section of No. 14. Platoon while I was in the trench at about mignight [sic] on the 14th inst. I saw Sergt. Coyne come into the trench. Afterwards I heard him say he was going to test the box of bombs to see if they were good. I saw him get on the fire-step and after that I can's [sic] say what happened. He either slipped or else knocked his hand. I next heard him sing out "Look out she's in the trench. An explosion followed and I then heard Sullivan ask "Is anyone hurt?" Sergt. Coyne said "I've got the full issue of it boys." (Sgd) G.L. Gollagher


No. 3928 C.R. Rodgers, 31st Bn. states :-
I am a member of the Lewis Gun section of No 14 Platoon while I was in the trench at about 1130 p.m. on the 14th inst. I saw Sergt. Coyne come to the trench. About ten minutes afterwards I heard him say he was gong to test the case of bombs, to see if they were good. He got up on the firestep, and went to throw it. as he started to throw it he fell back and said "Get for your lives, there's a live bomb in the trench." After the explosion Sullivan who was on post at the time asked "Is anyone hit?" Sergt. Coyne replied "Yes, Sully, I've got the full issue of it. I lay on it."
(Sgd) C.R. Rodgers

Taken down by me this 16th day of May 1918
(Sgd) R.C. Aland. Capt.
O/C D. Coy, 31st Batt

Chronological Events (continued)





Australian Imperial Force Kit Store forwards effects of Sgt Coyne to Base Records Office for despatch to Mother, Mrs David Coyne, Marian, Mackay, Queensland, from 3rd Echelon, being:
Wrist disc and chain, Disc, Tooth comb [sic], Pocket toilet case (mirror damaged), Unit colors [sic] Pocket book, Films, Photos, Cards, Wallet, 2 Franc notes, Letter.

17 Jun 1918


Pay Department, Victoria Barracks, Brisbane requests that the Officer in Charge, Base Records, Melbourne furnish him with a Certificate in connection with the death of Sgt. D.E. COYNE.

30 Oct 1918


Commanding Officer of the 31st Battalion recommends to the 8th Brigade that Coyne be awarded the Victoria Cross. The award is later altered to the Albert Medal, presumably because the circumstances do not involve active engagement with the enemy. Note, however, that the death from "wounds received by accident" is later amended to "wounded in Action (WIA)" and "died of wounds (DOW)". The text of the citation follows:

"At VAIRE-SOUS-CORBIE at 9:30pm on the 15-5.18 Sergeant Coyne was in a platoon post in the support lines. Being doubtful as to the quality of some Mills Grenades in the trench, he decided to test same by throwing one over the parapet."

"He did so, but by some mischance or other this grenade fell back into the trench amongst a Lewis Gun Team. Coyne cried "Go for your lives boys, the bomb is in the trench" and endeavoured to find the bomb in order to throw it out of the trench. Owing to the darkness he could not put his hand on the bomb which had rolled some little distance away."

"Realising the peril to his mates, who had not got clear of the trench, he threw himself on top of the bomb, which exploded, inflicting on him injuries from which he has since died."

"His last words to the men around him were 'I laid on the bomb, I thought you didn't have time to get out.' He undoubtedly sacrificed his life in order to save those of his comrades around him. It was a spendid example of cold blooded bravery."

22 Jul 1918

A scan of the medal recommendation held by the Australian War Memorial may be seen here.


London Gazette No 30958 dated 18 Oct 1918 records that at Whitehall on 13 October 1918,
The KING has been pleased to award the ALBERT MEDAL IN GOLD in recognition of the gallantry of Sergeant David Emmett Coyne, of the 31st Battalion Australian Imperial Force, in saving life in France at the cost of his own life.
On the night of the 15th May 1918, in order to test some Mills grenades, Sergeant Coyne threw one of them, but it failed to clear the parapet and fell into the trench where there were a number of other men. Sergeant Coyne shouted to them to run for their lives, and endeavoured to find the bomb in order to throw it away, but owing to the darkness he was unable to lay his hand on it in time, and, the men not being clear of the trench, he deliberately threw himself on the top of it and let it explode under him, receiving fatal injuries, but saving the lives of his comrades.

18 Oct 1918


Letter from the Public Curator's Office to Officer In Charge, Base Records Office, Victoria Barracks, Melbourne

Re 3347 Sgt. DAVID.E.COYNE-7th/31st Deceased No. Sm/4580

I have the honour to request that you will kindly foward me Certificate of Death of the abovenamed deceased soldier, who I understand, died on active service on [unknown] 191/

8 Nov 1918


Letter from Officer in Charge, Base Records Office, Victoria Barracks, Melbourne to the Public Curator, in response to his letter of the 8th of November, enclosing the certificate of report of death of the late No 3347, Sergeant D.E. Coyne, 31st Battalion.

18 Nov 1918



----------No 3347 Sergeant David Emmett Coyne,
                                        31st Battalion,

                                                    Australian Imperial Force. --------

              wounds accidentally received, --------------      -----    --

    61st Casualty Clearing )                                        15th May           18
   Station.                         )

                                                                        Cable Nos. C.I.B.L.
2559,2749, 2831, and C.I.B.L.2846, from the Commandant, A.I.F.

Headquarters, dated London 23rd May, 9th August, 19th and 21st
September 1918, respectively the two former confirmed by Mail,
from the Commandant, A.I.F. Headquarters dated London, 27th May,
and 12th August, 1918, respectively ---------------------------
             16th November         18.                     Major.

18 Nov 1918

A cryptic letter, addressee unknown, sender unknown, punctuated with long strings of dashes. I have tried to represent it as closely as possible.

This may refer to either the change of description of the the death from 'accidental' to 'war caused', or it may be in reference to either the award for which he was originally nominated (Victoria Cross) or the award which he actually received, or both of the latter. Such correspondence is closely protected.


Base Records Melbourne advise mother that they are forwarding his effects which they had received per "AUSTRALCRAG" and asks her to ensure that the seals are intact and the package has not been tampered with, before opening. Also requests that she returns the enclosed printed receipt slip.

19 Dec 1918
21 Dec 1918

I originally noted that there are two despatches, two days apart, which may be a duplication or that there were two packages. The entry for 17 Jun 1918 resolves that matter, the confusion arising because the papers in the file are quite far apart.






Officer in Charge, Base Records, Melbourne to Mr D. Coyne, Marian, Mackay, QUEENSLAND

Dear Sir,

With reference to the report of the regrettable loss of your son, the late No. 3347 Sergeant D.E. Coyne, 31st Battalion, I am now in receipt of advice which shows that he died on 15/5/18 at 61st Casualty Clearing Station, France of injuries accidentally received and was buried at Vignacourt Military Cemetery. Chaplain A.O'Neill conducted the service.

The utmost care and attention is being devoted where possible to the graves of our soldiers. It is understood photographs of graves are being taken as soon as possible and these will be transmitted to next-of-kin when available.

These additional details are furnished by direction, it beig the policy of the Department to forward all information received in connexion [sic] with the deaths of members of the Australian Imperial Force.

Yours faithfully,

3 Feb 1919


David Coyne signs receipt for Memorial Plaque

30 Nov 1922


Base Records, Melbourne advises David Coyne by telegram
Your son, the late No. 3347 Sergeant D.E. Coyne, 31st Battalion, the site of his grave in the Vignacourt British Cemetery is officially registered as Plot 2, Row, D, grave 6.

26 Feb 1923


Letter from Base Records Office to Mr David Coyne, Marian, Queensland

Dear Sir,

  I have much pleasure in forwarding hereunder copy of extract from Fifth Supplement, No. 31052 to the London Gazette, dated 5th December, 1918, relating to the conspicuous services rendered by your son, the late No. 3347 Sergeant D.E. Coyne, 31st Battalion.


  "The KING has been pleased to award the Albert Medal in Gold in recognition of the falltry of the under-mentioned non-commissioned officer of the 31st Battalion, Ausralian Imperioal Force, in saving life in France at the cost of his own life.

    No. 3347 Sergeant DAVID EMMITT [sic] COYNE

   On the night of 15th May, 1918, in order to test some Mills grenades, Sergeant Coyne threw one of them, but if failed to clear the parapet and fell into the trench in which there were a number of other men. Sergeant Coyne shouted to them to run for their lives and endeavoured to find the bomb, in order to throw it away, but owing to the darkness he was unable to lay his hand on it in time and, the men not being clear of the trench, he deliberately threw himself on the top of it and let it explode under him, receiving fatal injuries but saving the lives of his comrades."

  The above has been promulgated in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, No. 36 dated 14th Match, 1919.

24 Mar 1919

Father, David Coyne signs receipt for Victory Medal

7 Apr 1923

Medals and Dress Embellishments

Albert Medal in Gold for Life Saving on Land, British War Medal 1914-1920 and Victory Medal.

One Wound Stripe for 15 May 1918.

Not entitled to wear the ANZAC 'A'.

Two Long Service Stripes and two Overseas Service Chevrons.

Use the hyperlinks or scroll down to see further information on the medals and badges.

31st Battalion, 8th Infantry Brigade, 5th Divison

[Information from https://rslvirtualwarmemorial.org.au]
31 Battalion AIF Shoulder Patch

The 31st Battalion was raised mainly in Queensland with some company elements in Broadmeadows where they 'married up' prior to emabrkation in November 1915. Its colour patch indicates that it is part of the 5th Division by the vertical rectangle. The yellow sidebar is unique to the 8th Brigade. The brown sidebar indicates it is the third battalion of the four that belong to the Brigade.

The 31st was embarked to become the third battalion in the 8th Brigade of the 5th Division when the latter was raised in Egypt during the the 'doubling of the AIF' in early 1916. The 8th Brigade was a composite Brigade with a Battalion each from Victoria, New South Wales, and two 'outer States' Battalions, one drawn from Queensland / Victoria and the other from Western and South Australia. Until that point the Brigade composition was numerically sequential but that went somewhat awry with the 8th Brigade.

Initially, it was sent to Egypt where it was involved in the defence of the Suez Canal against the Turks, thus earning another battle honour"Egypt 1915-16". Upon the battalion's arrival in Egypt, the 8th Brigade had been unattached at divisional level, but in early 1916, it was assigned to the 5th Division, after a reorganisation that saw the AIF expanded from two infantry divisions to five.

In July 1916 the battalion arrived in France where its first involvement of war on the Western Front was the Battle of Fromelles, during which it suffered over 500 casualties and was so badly mauled that it undertook no more offensive action for the rest of the year.

In 1917, the battalion was involved in the Allied advance towards the Hindenburg Line, although because it was employed mainly in the flank protection role in this time, the only major fighting that it was involved in was at Polygon Wood during the Battle of Passchendaele in the Ypres sector in September 1917.It was here that Private Patrick Joseph Bugden, an original member of the Kennedy Regiment, performed the actions that led to him receiving the Victoria Cross.

On 15 May 1918, Sergeant David Emmett Coyne was nominated for the Victoria Cross for throwing himself on a hand-grenade that he had thrown after it had accidentally bounced back off a parapet, in order to protect other soldiers. However, as this was not in the face of the enemy, the posthumous nomination was changed to that of the Albert Medal in Gold, the only such medal issued to a member of the AIF (it was later superseded by the George Cross). Despite this he continues to be designated as "Wounded in Action" (WIA) and "Died of Wounds" (DOW).

Later, in August 1918, the 31st Battalion was involved in the last Allied offensive of the war when it took part in the fighting that resulted in the capture of Villers Bretonneux and then Bullecourt. Later, in September, the battalion was involved in the attack on the St Quentin Canal. This proved to be their last involvement in the war as they were out of the line when the Armistice occurred on 11 November. The 31st Battalion, AIF, was disbanded in March 1919 while in France awaiting repatriation to Australia.

Battle Honours:

Egypt 1915-18, Somme 1916-18, Bapaume 1917, Bullecourt, Ypres 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wool, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Ancre 1918, Amiens, Albert 1918, Mont St Quentin, Hindenburg Line, St Quentin Canal, france and Flanders 1916-1918

Information from Australian War Memorial, RSL Virtual War Memorial and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/31st_Battalion,_Royal_Queensland_Regiment

The Albert Medal in Gold for Life Saving on Land (illustrated) or Sea

[Extracts from British Gallantry Awards, P.E. Abbott and J.M.A. Tamplin, Guiness Superlatives Ltd, London Road, Endfield, Middlesex, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Medal_for_Lifesaving and https://www.pmc.gov.au/government/its-honour/awards/australian-bravery-decorations]
Albert Medal in Gold for Life-Saving on Land

The Albert Medal was instituted by a Royal Warrant of 7 Mar 1866 for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea. Only one award was made under this Warrant. A Royal Warrant of 12 Apr 1867 instituted First and Second Class decorations, and a subsequent Warrant on 30 Apr 1867 extended to acts of gallantry on land.

The standard of gallantry for qualifying for an award has always been very high, and it seems that the criterion adopted has been that the recipient's risk of death had to be greater than his chances of survival and, in the case of the gold medal, the risk had to be altogether exceptional.

However the institution of the George Cross and the George Medal in 1940 added two further awards to those already available and, in certain cases, it became diffcult to decide which was the most appropriate.

Accordingly, in November 1949 King George VI gave approval that awards of the gold medal should cease, being replaced by the George Cross, and that in future the bronze medal should only be awarded postumously.

In 1971 the Albert Medal was discontinued, along with the Edward Medal, and all living recipients were invited to exchange the award for the George Cross, the highest imperial award for non-military bravery and the civilian equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

The equivalent award within the present Australian Honours System is the Cross of Valour.

1914-15 Star

[Extract from Ribbons and Medals: Naval, Military, Air Force and Civil, Captain H. Taprell Dorling, DSO RN,
George Philip & Son, 33 Fleet Street, London EC4, 1940]
1914-15 Star

The decoration consists of a four-pointed star in bright bronze as shown, with the date 1914-15 on the central scroll. The reverse is plain, and is stamped with the name and unit of the recipient. The ribbon is red, white and blue, shaded and watered, worn with the red nearest the centre of the breast. It is atached to the medal through a ring.

It is similar in shape and description to the 1914 Star, to which few, if any, Australians were entitled.

The decoration, sanctioned in 1918, was issued "to all officers, warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the British, Dominion, Colonial and Indian Forces, including civilian medical practitioners, nursing sisters, nurses and others eployed with military hospitals, who actually served on the establishment of a unit in a theatre of war as defined in Appendix 'A'. Individuals in possession of the 1914 Star will not be eligible for the award of this decoration."

Appendix 'A' included the Western, Eastern, Egyptian, African, Asiatic and Australasian Theatres of war, with commencement dates individual to countries and campaigns.

British War Medal 1914-20

[Extract from Ribbons and Medals: Naval, Military, Air Force and Civil, Captain H. Taprell Dorling, DSO RN,
George Philip & Son, 33 Fleet Street, London EC4, 1940]
British War Medal

This medal was approved by King George V in 1919 to record the bringing of the war to a successful conclusion and the arduous services rendered by His Majesty's Forces.

The medal, which is supended from its ribbon by means of a straight clasp, without swivel, bears on the obverse the effigy of His Majesty - exactly similar to that on a half-crown - with the legend 'Georgivus V : Omn : Rex et Ind : Imp'.

The reverse bears a design which represents St George on horseback, trampling underfoot the eagle shield of the central powers and a skull and crossbones, the emblems of death. Overhead is the risen sun of victory. The male figure, rather than a symbolical female one, was chosen because man had borne the brunt of the fighting. The figure was mounted on horseback as symbolical of man's mind controlling force (represented by the horse) of far greater strength than his own. The design is thus also symbolical of the mechanical and scientific appliances which helped so largely to win the war.

The ribbon has a orange watered centre with stripes of white and black at each side and with borders of royal blue. It is stated that the colours have no particular signification.

Victory Medal

[Extract from Ribbons and Medals: Naval, Military, Air Force and Civil, Captain H. Taprell Dorling, DSO RN,
George Philip & Son, 33 Fleet Street, London EC4, 1940]

This medal, of bronze, bears on the obverse a winged figure of Victory, full length in the middle of the medal and full face; the borders and the backgound plain, without either incription or date. On the reverse is an inscription. "The Great War for Civilization." and either the names of the different Allied and Associated Powers, or their coats of arms.

The rim is plain, and the medal hangs from a ring. The ribbon is red in the centre, with green and violet on either side shaded to form the colours of two rainbows.

It has also been approved that any officer or man who has been "mentioned in despatches" shall wear a small bronze oak leaf on the ribbon of this medal. Only one oak leaf is so worn, no matter how many "mentions" the wearer may have received.

The medal is designed to obviate the exchange of Allied Commemorative war medals, and is issued only to those who actually served on the establishment of a unit or ship in a theatre of war. [This is an important distinction, as those Australians who served only in Australia, or only in Australia and England, were not entitled to the award.]

The Rising Sun Badge

This version of the Rising Sun Badge was worn by soldiers of the 1st and 2nd Australian Imperial Forces, and the badge has become an integral part of the Digger tradition.

Worn on the the upturned brim of the slouch hat, it is readily identified with the spirit of ANZAC.

There are a number of versions of the genesis of the badge, the most widely accepted being that it derived from a Trophy of Arms - various swords and bayonets mounted on a semi-circular display in Victoria Barracks, Melbourne.

The original version worn in South Africa was modified in 1904 and worn by Australian soldiers through two World Wars.

Later changes were made to the style of the crown and the wording on the scroll. The "King's Crown" is the one shown to the left, while arches of the "Queen's Crown" rise at the same angle as the base of the crown, curve at their highest point to a level mid-way on the orb below the cross and then down to below the orb.

In 1949 the scroll was changed to read "Australian Military Forces".

In 1969 the badge was modified to incorporate the 7-pointed Federation Star with a central Queen's crown over the Torse Wreath (a twisted roll of fabric) from the original 1902 version, and the scroll wording changed to "Australia".

In the 75th anniversary year of the the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli, there was a drive to return to traditional accoutrements worn by Australian soldiers during the World Wars, which clearly identify the Australian Army. The Queen's crown returned to its central position and the scroll now reads "The Australian Army'.



The brass letter 'A' to represent service related to Gallipoli (ANZAC) was authorised to be worn 'over unit colour patches on both sleeves of the service dress jacket and greatcoat" by Military Order 354 of 18 Aug 17 and AIF Order 937 of 6 Nov 17, as amended in terms of qualification by Military Order 20 of 19 Jan 18 and by AIF Order 1084 of 25 Jan 18.

The size of the letter 'A', introduced as one inch in height (AIF Order 994 of 30 Nov 17), was reduced to three-quarters of an inch by AIF Order 1012 of 11 Dec 17. Provision for wearing the brass letter 'A' was also included in General Routine Order 0.815 of 17 Dec 43 and GRO 310 of 7 Dec 45.

Wound Stripe

Army Order No.204 Headquarters, 1st A.N.Z.A.C., 9th August, 1916. (slightly amended for layout)

Wound Stripes

The following distinction in dress will be worn on the service dress jacket by all officers and soldiers who have been wounded in any of the campaigns since 4th August 1914 :

    Stripes of gold Russia braid No.1, two inches [2.5cm] in length sewn perpendicularly on the left forearm sleeve of the jacket to mark each occasion on which wounded.

    In the case of officers, the lower end of the first strip of gold braid will be immediately above the upper point of the flap on the cuff.

    Warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men will wear the gold braid on the left forearm sleeve, the lower edge of the braid to be three inches from the bottom of the sleeve.

    Subsequent occasions on which wounded, will be placed on either side of the original one at half inch interval.

    Gold braid and sews will be obtained free on indent from the Army Ordnance Department; the sewing on will be carried out regimentally without expense to the public.

Long Service Badges

[Image from http://www.diggerhistory.info]
Long Service Badges
A.I.F. ORDER No.470, 24 January 1917 (slightly amended for layout)

The question of the issue of a badge to members of the AIF who have completed a certain period of service has received consideration, and approval has been given for the issue of a badge for long service combined with good conduct, subject to the following conditions.

    The badge will consist of an inverted single chevron of service braid to be worn on the left forearm - the point of the chevron to be 3 inches [7.6cm] above the edge of the cuff.

    Warrant and non-commissioned officers and men, will be eligible for the badge, which will not carry an increased pay or allowance.

    One chevron will be worn for each complete year's service in the Australian Imperial Force from the date of embarkation in Australia.

    No badge will be issued to any man who, during the 12 months, has incurred a regimental entry (i.e. an entry involving forfeiture of pay) in his sheet.

    Time absent from the unit in hospital or elsewhere on account of wounds or sickness, not the result of misconduct, will count as service towards earning the badge.

    A man in possession of a badge will forfeit same on being convicted of any offence involving a forfeiture of pay , but will be eligible to regain the badge after 6 months good conduct, from the date of forfeiture.

    The illegal wearing of this badge will be a crime under A.A. Section 40.

Overseas Service Chevrons

[Image from http://www.diggerhistory.info]

Overseas Service Chevrons

Australian Imperial Force Order No.1053, January 1918 (Slightly amended for layout)

His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of chevrons to denote service overseas since the 4th August 1914.

    Chevrons of two colours have been approved.

      The first chevron if earned on or before 31st December 1914, will be red.

      If earned on or after 1st January 1915, it will be blue.

      All additional chevrons after the first will be blue.

    The chevrons will be worsted embroidery, 1/4 inch [0.63cm] in width, the arms 4 inches [10.2cm] long. They will be worn inverted on the right forearm:

    In the case of officers, the apex of the lowest chevron will be 1 inch [2.5cm] above the upper point of the flap on the cuff.

    In the case of warrant-officers, non-commissioned officers and men, the apex of the lowest chevron will be midway between the seams and four inches [10.2cm] above the bottom edge of the sleeve.

    The red chevron will be worn below the blue one. They will not be worn on greatcoats.

    In the case of Australians, the first chevron was earned the date the individual left Australia. Additional chevrons were awarded for each successive aggregate period of 12 months service outside Australia.

Some Government Issued Badges

Nearest Female
Relative Badge

War Widows
Guild Brooch

Silver War Badge

Discharged Returned
Soldier Badge

Government issued badge in enamel and sterling silver issued to the wife, mother or nearest female relative of a serving soldier. Additional bars were suspended below for further individuals.

Membership badge of a Kookaburra in sterling silver, issued by the Government to the widows of men who lost their lives due to their service. Numbered on the reverse.

Awarded to service personnel who sustained a wound, or contracted sickness of disability in the course of the war as a result of which they were invalided out, or to soldiers who had retired during the course of the war.

First issued in 1916. Slight variations are indicative of a number of makers. 267,300 were issued. Numbered on the reverse but the numbers have no link withlength of service or Service Number.

[Badge information collated from Australian War Memorial, "Australians Awarded" by Clive Johnson and en.wikipedia.com]