John Raymond Cassilis HAYWARD DCM Service No. 3237,
Private, 29th Battalion

John Hayward (centre) wearing DCM
Photo: East Gippsland Historical Society

A farmer, John Hayward was born at Cassilis when it was a thriving mining town, and of sufficient significance for his parents that they added it to his name. At the time of his enlistment, at the age of twenty, the family was living at Doctor’s Flat, near Ensay.
John enlisted on 17 March 1916 and embarked aboard HMAT Berrima on 4 July for further training at the Larkhill camp in England. On 12 November 1916 he arrived in France, where he was taken on strength with the 29th Battalion and experienced the horrors of trench warfare. In John’s case, this included recurring scabies, caused by the close confinement and poor hygiene the men endured in the trenches.
The 29th Battalion saw action in the Ypres sector during the European autumn of 1917, including a major battle at Polygon Wood that September. On 4 October 1917, John was appointed Lance Corporal.
On 29 July 1918, the 29th Battalion was involved in an attack at Morlancourt, near Amiens, where Lance Corporal Hayward was wounded in action. Despite receiving shrapnel wounds to his left foot and right leg, he continued fighting and was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his valour that day. The citation in the Commonwealth Gazette No. 31 of 4 March 1919 reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During the attack and capture of an enemy trench system, this N.C.O. who was in charge of a Lewis gun team, was wounded in reaching the first objective. He continued to lead his section, and pushed on 100 yards beyond the final objective, when it was captured, to protect the work of consolidation. He was wounded a second time, but remained at his post and led his party against an enemy machine gun, which was taken, though he himself was wounded for the third time and had to be evacuated. His courage, endurance and brilliant leadership were an inspiration to the men under his command.

John was transferred to the 5th Southern General Hospital at Portsmouth, then to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital on 18 October 1918. On 8 November he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. On 10 March 1919 he was invalided home on the Ulysses and discharged from the army on 17 April 1919.

John Hayward died on 25 September 1962 and is buried in the cemetery at Ensay.