Lesson 4: Honouring the 16th Battalion


The 16th Battalion was one of the most highly decorated in World War I. Their honours included:

  • 3 Victoria Cross (VC) Medals
  • 30 Distinguished Conduct Medals (DCM)
  • 12 Distinguished Service Orders (DSO)
  • 25 Military Crosses (MC)
  • 163 Military Medals (MM)

In this lesson, students will select one of the men who was awarded a Victoria Cross and research to find out what he did to receive the medal, and if possible, more information about his life before or after the war.

Broad learning outcomes

  • Students will use their research skills to locate and evaluate historical information about a Victoria Cross recipient.
  • Students will create an informative and engaging multimedia class presentation.


You will need:

  • computers with internet access
  • ‘Presentation peer assessment’ sheet.

Lesson steps

As a class, discuss any medals that students have ever been awarded. They could include medals for sporting, school or other experiences. What feelings did the students have upon presentation of these medals? Why do students think it is so important to receive recognition in this way?

List the medals awarded to the 16th Battalion on the board (see above). You may find it necessary to conduct an internet image search on each of the medals to display to students. After viewing the medals, focus on the Victoria Cross. Explain that it is the highest military award presented for acts of bravery during wartime to members of various Commonwealth countries.

In small groups, ask students to select one of the Victoria Cross recipients from the 16th Battalion: Lance Corporal Thomas Leslie Axford, Lieutenant Lawrence Dominic ‘Fats’ McCarthy or Private Martin O’Meara. In their groups, they must research to find out more about the event which led to the awarding of the medal and the recipient’s life before or after the war.

The information will be presented to the class, or other groups, in a multimedia format. If you wish you can have students use the ‘Presentation peer assessment’ sheet to assess the presentations.