Lieutenant Richard John (Jack) Garcia, DCM, MM, DSM
Lieutenant Richard John (Jack) Garcia, DCM, MM, DSM,
Croix de Guerre (Belgium) in 1918
Decorated veteran of three wars fatally hit
Footscray Advertiser, 5 October, 1956, page 9
A veteran of three wars, and Footscray’s most highly decorated “Digger”, Mr. Richard John (Jacka) Garcia, died last Friday night after being hit by a car at the corner of Darling St. and Geelong Rd.
A T.P.I., he had engaged a taxi to convey him from his home in Buckingham Street to the R.S.L. Memorial Hall, which he had practically made a second home.
The taxi did not arrive and he decided to walk – unfortunately it was a walk to his death.
Born at Hobart on July 12, 1880, he was in his 77th year. A widower, his passing is mourned by his son John and two daughters, Alice (Mrs Bradley) and Mary.
In his early years he came to Footscray and during his long residence locally his main occupations were tobacco growing at Happy Valley, as a blacksmith at Yarraville and as an employee of the State Electricity Commission.
In his younger days he won some renown as a pugilist and since the formation of the Footscray R.S.S.A.I.L.A. of which he was a foundation member he loved his games of snooker and billiards at the Memorial Hall.
GREAT WAR RECORD
It was as a fighter in 1914-1918 war, during which he rose from private to lieutenant that he was recognized as one of the outstanding men in the A.I.F.
He had three years previous experience in the Boer War in South Africa and when the world conflict commenced he was abroad with the first contingent as a member of Footscray’s famous E. Company and in the reorganization in Egypt became a member of the 14th Battalion. He was in the landing at Gallipoli and before the Armistice on November 11 1918, he had been wounded no fewer than eight times.
SOME GOOD MATES
Devoid of fear, he had some good mates in the 4th Brigade of which the 14th Battalion was a unit.
These included Australia’s most decorated fighter, Harry Murray V.C. D.S.O. and Bar, D.C.M. and some foreign awards of the 13th, Albert Jacka, Australia’s first V.C. winner in his own unit and Percy Black D.S.O of the 16th who was killed at Bullecourt on April 11 1917 and who some claimed was a greater front-line man than even Murray.
As Sergeant Garcia, the Footscrayite was awarded the D.C.M. for gallantry and leadership in the first raid the 14th carried out in France on the night of July 2-3, 1916. It was at Boise Grenier, near Armentieres.
Raid leader Lieut. Harold Wanliss – another name revered by old 14th members – was wounded early and Sergeant Garcia led the raiders into the enemy trenches, which was quickly cleared. Heavy fire from the flanks caught the raiders as they returned and nearly every one of the 89 participants, including Sergeant Garcia, was wounded.
THE MONASH WATCH
At the time of the raid, Sergt. Garcia had a watch belonging to then Brigadier Monash, who left a short time later to take charge of the newly-formed 3rd Division in England. From the hospital Sergt. Garcia wrote asking how best to return the time-piece.
General Monash, in reply, after thanking him for the good care he had taken of it under trying circumstances, continued “I would like you to accept it as a present from me in memory of your own brave conduct, and the very fine deeds of the other members of the raiding party. Also let me congratulate you on the award of the D.C.M., which your consistent gallant conduct so richly deserved. I am very glad to hear your recovery is already so far advanced and I hope that before long you will be quite well again and back with your comrades winning fresh laurels.”
Later General Monash was to lead the whole of the Australian forces in France in the great attacks which culminated in Allied victory. And naturally, both the letter and the watch were prized possessions of the recipient.
TOO OLD BUT SERVED
Not content with his outstanding service in two wars, Jack Garcia offered again when the 1939 conflict commenced. Too old for combat duty, he served for 5 years at Bonegilla camp.
Testimony to the esteem in which he was held was reflected in the large attendance at the funeral on Tuesday. The casket was draped with the Australian flag and was surmounted with a laurel wreath and Digger’s hat.
Among the mourners was Mr. J. Jackson, secretary of the 14th Battalion Association who was associated with Sergt. Garcia when he won the D.C.M.
At the Memorial Hall Rev. Geoffrey Taylor C. of E. conducted impressive services and at the graveside at the Footscray Cemetery Captain Harold Schuict, Footscray R.S.S.A.I.L.A. president, conducted the Soldier Service.
Funeral arrangement were by Stanley A. Hollibone and Sons.
Sgt. Garcia, Richard John (Regimental No. 197) – recommendation for Distinguished Conduct Medal
(from AWM website)
Near Bois Grenier night of 2nd 3rd July 1916
This NCO volunteered to go out while it was still daylight into “NO MAN’S LAND” to prevent enemy patrols from gaining information as to the presence or approach of our raiding party. He then fell into his place in the raiding party, and after the enemy wire had been passed and his officer (Lt. Julian) had become a casualty he took command of the right raiding party and continued to lead them during a systematic clearing of the dug-outs and trenches until himself disabled by shrapnel.
This NCO has rendered consistent good service, and was previously recommended by me for distinction on December 7th last for his work in the Gallipoli campaign. He was again recommended by me for the Military Medal on June 29th, 1916.”
John Monash, Brigadier-General
Commanding the 4th Australian Infantry Brigade
Recommended for special recognition
H.V. Cox, Major-General,
Commanding 4th Australian Division
Sir W.R. Birdwood, Lt.-General
Commanding 1st ANZAC
16th August, 1917
Sgt. Garcia, Richard John (Regimental No. 197) – recommendation for Military Medal
(from AWM website)
For great gallantry and devotion to duty during the Battalion’s tour of duty in the GAPAARD Sector beyond MESSINES, 8th to 14th August 1917. This NCO was Platoon Sergeant in the No. 3. Outpost and was instrumental in organizing the Post and arranging mutually supporting cross-fire from the Lewis Guns in the Flank Posts. He supervised the patrolling and laid a system of guiding wires to and from the Outpost. His judgement and experience inspired the remainder of the personnel and his careful siting and arrangement of the Lewis Guns enabled the Post twice to inflict severe casualties on the enemy wiring parties which previously had been in dead ground.
Lt. Col. J.W. Smith
C.O. 14th Battalion, AIF