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McCash, John McDonald (1897–1962)

by W. M. Chamberlain

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

John McDonald McCash (1897-1962), soldier and railwayman, was born on 12 February 1897 at Pitlochry, Perthshire, Scotland, son of James McCash, vanman, and his wife Isabella, née McDonald. A sailor in his youth, he enlisted in the 22nd Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, in Melbourne on his eighteenth birthday. On 10 May 1915 Private McCash embarked with 'D' Company for Gallipoli where he served from 5 September until the evacuation.

On 22 July 1916 McCash transferred to the 60th Battalion at Rouge de Bout in the Armentières sector, France. He rose rapidly through the ranks, being promoted lance corporal on 8 August, corporal on 28 August, sergeant on 25 October and company sergeant major on 22 February 1917. He was brought to the notice of his corps commander for gallant conduct during the 2nd battle of Bullecourt.

Back in Britain, McCash joined the 15th Training Battalion in August 1917 and the 14th Training Battalion in April 1918 before returning to the 60th Battalion on 3 May. He was wounded in action but remained on duty on 18 June near Méricourt. During the battle of 8 August his conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty led to the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Bar when, in charge of two platoons, he assisted his company commander in the early advance through fog. Next day at Harbonnières he organized the advance of the right half-company under heavy fire and enabled it to proceed; then, at Péronne on 2 September, by his coolness and good judgement under heavy fire, many casualties were avoided.

Transferred to the 59th Battalion on 25 September, McCash took part in operations against the Hindenburg line. He embarked for Australia in May 1919 and was discharged from the A.I.F. in Melbourne in August. On 22 November, describing himself as a railway conductor, he married Doris Elizabeth Malmsbury Jarvie at St Michael's Anglican Church, North Carlton; they had two daughters. In the inter-war period he remained in Melbourne, living at East Malvern, North Carlton and Albert Park—pursuing a career as a traffic officer. During World War II he served again, as a lieutenant in the Australian Army Employment Service from December 1942 and transferring to the Australian Army Labour Service in July 1944. He was placed on the retired list from the 8th Australian Employment Company in February 1945 and returned to his Albert Park home and his civilian career. In the 1950s he was a commissionaire and market inspector.

Survived by his wife and daughters, McCash died of coronary occlusion at the Repatriation General Hospital, Heidelberg, on 21 July 1962 and was cremated. Although about 1754 D.C.M.s were awarded to Australians in World War I, McCash was one of only 27 who were awarded the D.C.M. and Bar.

Select Bibliography

  • M. S. C. Smith, Australian Campaigns in the Great War (Lond, 1919)
  • A. D. Ellis, The Story of the Australian Fifth Division (Lond, 1920)
  • London Gazette, 5 Dec 1918, 1 Jan 1919
  • Sun-News Pictorial (Melbourne), 23, 24 July 1962
  • war diary, 22nd, 59th and 60th battalions, AIF (Australian War Memorial).

Citation details

W. M. Chamberlain, 'McCash, John McDonald (1897–1962)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mccash-john-mcdonald-7308/text12603, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 21 October 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

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