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Victoria Cross Returns to Ireland

For the first time in over 60 years, a Victoria Cross medal will leave Australian shores to be loaned to an international museum.

The event marks a significant milestone celebrating Australia’s longstanding historic relationship with Ireland.

“I am very proud, on behalf of the nation and the Army Museum of Western Australia in Fremantle, to announce the loaning of Sergeant Martin O’Meara’s Victoria Cross to the National Museum of Ireland,” says the Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds.

“More than 80 years after Sergeant O’Meara’s death, the Victoria Cross, a symbol of his service to his adopted nation, will return to his homeland.”

The VC medal will be exhibited in Dublin for 12 months with Sergeant O’Meara’s British War Medal and Victory Medal before returning to Australia in July 2020.

The loan of Sergeant O’Meara’s Victoria Cross is a first, following an amendment to the Protection of Moveable Cultural Heritage Act 1986 in December 2018, allowing for the temporary export of important cultural artefacts.

Private (Pte) Martin O’Meara VC, 16th Battalion – awarded the Victoria Cross for “most conspicuous bravery” on 9 – 12 August 1916 at Pozieres. Pte O’Meara, a Forward Scout acting as a stretcher bearer, repeatedly went into No Man’s Land and brought in wounded officers and men under heavy artillery and machine gun fire, during four days of heavy fighting. He also volunteered and carried ammunition and bombs through heavy enemy fire to a portion of the trenches which was being heavily shelled at the time.Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.

“Sergeant O’Meara is one of around 6,000 Irish-born Anzacs who served with the Australian Imperial Force during the First World War,” Minister Reynolds said.

“He was awarded the Victoria Cross following his acts of bravery and courage at Pozieres in France on 9-12 August 1916.

“During four days at the height of battle, Sergeant O’Meara repeatedly went out and brought in wounded soldiers under intense artillery and machine-gun fire.

“His heroic actions undoubtedly saved many lives. He also volunteered to carry up ammunition and bombs through a heavy barrage to a portion of the trenches, which was being heavily shelled at the time.

“Showing utter contempt for danger, Sergeant O’Meara is a true representation of the Anzac spirit,” Minister Reynolds said.

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