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Dalton Thomas Walker Neville (1896–1969)

by Harry Taplin

This article was published:

Dalton Thomas Walker Neville (1896-1969), soldier, bank officer and salesman, was born on 16 July 1896 at Darlinghurst, Sydney, third of twelve children of London-born Thomas Walker Neville, dentist, and eldest child of Thomas's second wife Antoinette, née Dalton of Sydney.

Neville was educated at Singleton Superior Public School, joined the Commonwealth Bank as a clerk and enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force as a private on 16 July 1915, sailing for Egypt in November with the 6th Reinforcements to the 17th Battalion. When the A.I.F. was reorganized in February 1916 he was transferred to the 55th Battalion. He was promoted corporal on 20 February, sergeant on 24 July, was commissioned second lieutenant on 2 February 1918 (while attending the Officer Cadet Battalion, Oxford, England, from October 1917 to April 1918) and was promoted lieutenant on 14 May 1918. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Cross and was mentioned in dispatches for vigorous and daring patrolling in no man's land. A fearless and brilliant patrol leader, Neville was known as the 'King of No Man's Land'. He was particularly proud of never having lost a man while leading battalion patrols.

The D.C.M. and the mention in dispatches were awarded for repeated bravery while patrolling in no man's land on the Somme, France, in early 1917. The M.C. was won at Villers-Bretonneux, near Amiens, in May 1918. While in charge of a patrol reconnoitring the enemy's side of no man's land he attacked two posts, killing two Germans and capturing three. His patrol withdrew under machine-gun fire but he guided his men back without casualty.

Although not mentioned in official army records, papers in the possession of Neville's family indicate that he also won the French Croix de Guerre. This was awarded for leading six men across no man's land, near Villers-Bretonneux in May 1918 and planting a French flag on the parapet of the German trenches. The flag bore the words, traced by Neville, 'This far and no farther'. On 17 July Neville was seconded to III Army Corps, on the Australian flanks, for special patrol duties. Five days later he was seriously wounded and his war service concluded. He embarked for Australia in January 1919 and his A.I.F. appointment ended on 6 June 1920.

After demobilization Neville lived mostly on the central coast of New South Wales and between the wars worked as a salesman. During the 1930s he briefly conducted his own foundry business. In the early 1920s he had been granted a 25 per cent disability pension, increased to 35 per cent in 1938. In November 1940 he was made a Totally and Permanently Incapacitated pensioner; however, in World War II he served with the 8th Australian Garrison Battalion and the Australian Headquarters Guard Battalion on Moreton Island. He was discharged on 12 November 1943 because of pains from old wounds, difficulty in marching, a nervous condition and a slight head injury from a grenade explosion. In May 1945 he was again granted a T.P.I. pension.

On 3 May 1920 Neville had married Jessie Pauline Crook at the Methodist Church, Mosman, Sydney, a marriage which was dissolved in 1926. There were two later marriages, to Dorothy Friend at Newcastle on 13 September 1928 (later dissolved) and to Sophie Beatrice Tree. He died on 1 October 1969 from a self-inflicted bullet wound, survived by his third wife and their son. He was buried in the Anglican section of Wamberal cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • C. E. W. Bean, The A.I.F. in France, 1918 (Syd, 1942)
  • London Gazette, 1 June, 28 Dec 1917, 16 Sept 1918
  • Central Coast Express, 22 Apr 1964
  • Sun (Sydney), 30 Apr 1938
  • war diary, 55th Battalion, AIF (Australian War Memorial)
  • private information.

Citation details

Harry Taplin, 'Neville, Dalton Thomas Walker (1896–1969)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 21 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (Melbourne University Press), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • King of No Man's Land

16 July, 1896
Darlinghurst, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


1 October, 1969 (aged 73)
New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Military Service