• William Donovan Joynt

Army / Flying Corps
  • 8th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • 2nd Brigade
  • Lieutenant
  • 2nd Lieutenant
  • Captain

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  • 1914–1915 Star
  • Mentioned in Despatches (MID)
  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal
  • Victoria Cross (VC)
Stories and comments
    • William Donovan Joynt
    • Posted by MeredithWaldron, Wednesday, 17 October 2018

    Printer, author, and Victoria Cross recipient William Donovan Joynt was born on the 19th of March 1889 in Elsternwick, Victoria, the third son of Edward Kelly Joynt and Alice (neé Woolcott) Joynt. After graduating from Melbourne Grammar School, he spent a few years as an office worker before travelling to North Queensland to seek employment as a farmer and general labourer. By the onset of World War One, Joynt had worked in Victoria, West Australia, and Tasmania, and had close to two years military experience as a volunteer with the Victoria Rifles Militia. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on the 21st of May 1915, and the following March, he embarked for France as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 15th Reinforcements of the 8th Infantry Battalion. Throughout the war, Joynt distinguished himself with his bravery, especially in the incident which earned him his Victoria Cross. On the 23rd of August 1918, the 8th Battalion participated in a major offensive to advance the Somme front, supporting the 6th Battalion in an advance near Herleville. When the 6th were under heavy fire and all officers were lost, Joynt (by then a Lieutenant, and commanding his company due to the loss of his superior officer earlier in the engagement) rushed forward to reform them in a safer location and join them together with the 8th. He then led a frontal bayonet attack on Herleville Wood, taking the machine guns and artillery which were impeding the advance of the entire brigade. Later in the day, he was wounded in the upper thigh by shell fire, and was forced to withdraw. He was invalided to England, and remained in hospital until the 31st of December, after which he remained in that country for a further twelve months before being sent home to Melbourne on the Themistocles. In June 1920, at the rank of Captain, he was officially discharged. On his return to Australia, Joynt became a soldier settler near Berwick, using both his pre-war farming experience and knowledge gained from an agricultural program he’d undertaken in England to start up a dairy farm. He soon moved to Melbourne, however, where he became a pioneer of colour printing in Australia, founding Queen City Printers Pty Ltd, and later Colarts Studios Pty Ltd, a company which employed ‘photographic artists’ to re-touch and colour photographic prints. In 1920, Joynt partnered with Walter Dexter to create an exhibition of close to a hundred and fifty war photos, coloured by Colarts Studios, which went on tour around Australia. The exhibition was incredibly popular, and the full collection can now be viewed on the State Library of NSW website (see source list). Joynt maintained ties with other returned servicemen, and had a continuing interest in military affairs: as a founding member of Melbourne Legacy, he contributed to the lobbying campaign to construct the current Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne. He remained on the reserve list as an officer, and between 1926 and 1933, he served with the Militia, attaining the rank of Major in 1930. In September 1939, Joynt re-enlisted, and served on the home front until the end of the war. In October 1944, he was discharged at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In March 1932, Joynt married Edith Amy Garrett, and they lived together without children until her death in 1978. During the 1970s, he wrote three memoirs reflecting on his experiences in the military and elsewhere: To Russia and Back Through Communist Countries (1971), Saving the Channel Ports, 1918 (1975), and Breaking the Road for the Rest (1979). By the time of his death, on the 5th of May 1986, Joynt was the last Victoria Cross recipient surviving from Australia’s World War One servicemen. He was buried in Brighton Cemetery, Victoria, with full honours.