1983, 48 Minutes
The story of Lieutenant Edgar Towner, the grazier from central Queensland who won the Victoria Cross on the battlefields of France during World War One.
In 1915, a young grazier, Edgar Thomas Towner, travelled from his homestead 'Valparaiso' in central Queensland to Brisbane to enlist as a private in the Australian Imperial Force and join the ANZACs.
Serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Machine Gun Corps in 1918, he twice distinguished himself on the battlefields of France. The second time was at Péronne during the assault on Mont St Quentin, where Towner single-handedly captured an enemy machine-gun, then brought his men forward to produce 'such effective fire that the Germans suffered heavy losses'. Even when wounded, Lieutenant Towner continued to fight and to inspire his men. His 'conspicuous bravery, initiative and devotion to duty' won him the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery in the British Empire.
After the war, Towner returned to Australia and spent the rest of his life working, studying and traveling through the Barcoo shire of Queensland. He never married and was regarded by some as an eccentric loner.
Shortly after Towner's death in 1972, the medal was sold by a relative to a collector and in 1983, it was put up for auction, the first time a VC was sold this way in Australia. It fetched $64,000. Towner's decoration, which symbolised his bravery during the war, had become an object of commerce, a collector's item.
Produced by Motion Picture Associates for Film Australia. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Director: Brian Hannant
Running Time: 48 Minutes