When he enlisted in March 1916, Lewis was 27 years old. He and his wife, Eileen, and baby Nada, were living near Avoca, and Lewis was working for the Royal George mine as an engine driver. He left Australia in November 1916, arriving in France in January 1917. He served with the 40th Battalion and was quickly promoted to Sergeant.
In October 1917, the 40th were fighting at Passchendaele with the aim of taking the Broodseinde Ridge. During the action, Lewis captured two machine gun posts, alleviating the heavy fire the group was under, and allowing the advance to proceed. For this ‘splendid work‘, and his ‘great dash and bravery‘ he was awarded the Victoria Cross. He was recognized as setting an excellent example to the men of cheerfulness, courage and devotion to duty.
Just eight days later, Lewis again tried to rush a machine gun post. He was hit in the head and killed instantly. He is buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery near Ypres.
His effects were sent to his widow Eileen and included a New Testament, Cigarette Lighter (damaged), 2 notebooks, metal watch, safety razor, letters, photos and cards.
His VC was presented to Eileen by the Governor General, Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson, in a ceremony in Launceston in March 1918.
Lewis’ story is part of our exhibition: Our Grateful Thanks and Loving Remembrance, a moving and deeply personal exhibition remembering the soldiers whose names are immortalised on the Ross War Memorial.