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18th February

Many thanks to member Julian Gatt, who sent the following account of Corporal Cameron Baird's VC action.

On 22 June 2013, a Commando Platoon of the Special Operations Task Group, with partners from the Afghan National Security Forces, conducted a helicopter assault into Ghawchak village, Uruzgan Province, in order to attack an insurgent network deep within enemy-held territory.  Shortly after insertion, Corporal Baird’s team was engaged by small arms fire from several enemy positions.  Corporal Baird quickly seized the initiative, leading his team to neutralise the positions, killing six enemy combatants and enabling the assault to continue.
Soon afterwards, an adjacent Special Operations Task Group team came under heavy enemy fire, resulting in its commander being seriously wounded.  Without hesitation, Corporal Baird led his team to provide support.  En route, he and his team were engaged by rifle and machine gun fire from prepared enemy positions.  With complete disregard for his own safety, Corporal Baird charged towards the enemy positions, supported by his team.  On nearing the positions, he and his team were engaged by additional enemy on their flank.  Instinctively, Corporal Baird neutralised the new threat with grenades and rifle fire, enabling his team to close with the prepared position.  With the prepared position now isolated, Corporal Baird manoeuvred and was engaged by enemy machine gun fire, the bullets striking the ground around him.  Displaying great valour, he drew the fire, moved to cover, and suppressed the enemy machine gun position.  This action enabled his team to close on the entrance to the prepared position, thus regaining the initiative.
On three separate occasions Corporal Baird charged an enemy-held building within the prepared compound.  On the first occasion he charged the door to the building, followed by another team member.  Despite being totally exposed and immediately engaged by enemy fire, Corporal Baird pushed forward while firing into the building.  Now in the closest proximity to the enemy, he was forced to withdraw when his rifle ceased to function.  On rectifying his rifle stoppage, and reallocating remaining ammunition within his team, Corporal Baird again advanced towards the door of the building, once more under heavy fire.  He engaged the enemy through the door but was unable to suppress the position and took cover to reload.  For a third time, Corporal Baird selflessly drew enemy fire away from his team and assaulted the doorway.  Enemy fire was seen to strike the ground and compound walls around Corporal Baird, before visibility was obscured by dust and smoke.  In this third attempt, the enemy was neutralised and the advantage was regained, but Corporal Baird was killed in the effort.
Corporal Baird’s acts of valour and self-sacrifice regained the initiative and preserved the lives of his team members.  His actions were of the highest order and in keeping with the finest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.
Corporal Baird's parents have loaned his VC to the Australian War Memorial and should be on display in the all of Valour before Anzac Day, 25th April.

13th  February

We learn from our Australian members that a posthumous Victoria Cross for Australia has been announced. The recipient is Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird MG, 2nd Commando Regiment. This is Australia's 100th Victoria Cross.
Corporal Baird, 32, died as he assaulted an insurgent-held compound during a special forces mission in the Khod Valley in Afghanistan's Oruzgan province on June 22 last year.
He was the 40th Australian to die in Afghanistan, the fourth awarded the VC and the first posthumously since Vietnam.
He was also a very humble person who shunned the limelight and would have seen this not as an award to himself but as recognition of all his fellow soldiers, his brother Brendan told reporters:: "As a loving family this is a bittersweet moment as Cameron is no longer with us but we are honoured to have him recognised in this way and through him, all of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their beloved country," he said. "Lest we forget. Without Warning," he concluded.
Without Warning is the motto of the 2nd Commando Regiment.
Cpl Baird's father Doug said he was an outstanding sportsman and junior footballer for the Calder Cannons and could have been drafted by an AFL club if not for a shoulder injury.
So Cameron Baird joined the army at 18, serving with the 4th Battalion (Commando) - now the 2nd Commando Regiment - in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. During his second deployment to Afghanistan in 2007, he was awarded the Medal for Gallantry for bravery during a close-quarters fight with insurgents.
Following his death last year in his fifth tour, Defence revealed scant details beyond that he was shot and killed during a Special Operations Task Group operation.
Full details of his VC action won't be disclosed until Governor-General Quentin Bryce reads the official citation when she confers the award on his parents next Tuesday. Prime Minister Tony Abbott revealed some details to a packed House of Representatives chamber on Thursday.
It occurred as Commandos attacked well-defended enemy positions in the village of Ghawchak. Cpl Baird charged enemy positions, destroying them with grenade and rifle fire. "By drawing fire on himself, repeatedly, he enabled other members of his team to regain the initiative," Mr Abbott said. In the second phase, he led an assault on an enemy compound. On separate occasions under heavy fire, he forced the door from a building. Twice he withdrew to reload and to clear his rifle.
"For the third time he entered the building drawing fire away from his comrades who were able to secure the objective. Tragically, he was killed in this final assault," he said.
Mr Abbott cited the accounts of two comrades, both probably used to support the VC recommendation. "Corporal Baird's initiative, fearless tenacity and dedication to duty in the face of the enemy were exemplary; an absolute inspiration to the entire team. I was witness to the ultimate sacrifice," said one.
"His repeated attempts to attack that room with six insurgents inside was the bravest event that I have ever seen, in my experience, on two tours as a commando," said the other.
 

1st February 2014

The Fusilier Museum in Bury, Lancashire, is searching for the missing Victoria Cross awarded to Captain Cuthbert Bromley. The hope is it can be located and  included in a new and exciting exhibition to commemorate the centenary of the ill-fated Gallipoli landings in which the Lancashire Fusiliers famously won "Six VCs before breakfast". The ground-breaking exhibition due to open in April 2015 will hopefully include all six Victoria Crosses. If successful in their search, it will be the first time ever in 100 years that the VCs have been on display in one place.
The Museum currently has two in its collection and three will be kindly loaned by Lord Ashcroft from his Extraordinary Heroes Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, the largest VC collection in the world. 
If you have any knowledge of the location of Captain Bromley's Cross, please contact the Fusilier Museum on gini.wilde@fusiliermuseum.com or phone: 07967019099

9th August

The Victoria Cross Trust Annual Conference 2013

Thursday 5th September 2013
1000hrs - 1600hrs
Union Jack Club
London

 
We are pleased to announce that our annual VC conference will this year be held at the Union Jack Club in London. This fantastic venue in the centre of London is the perfect setting for our first Annual VC Conference.  Within its walls, hides the nations only VC Memorial Wall listing every man awarded a Victoria Cross.

Normally only open and available to serving and former non-commissioned military personnel of Her Majesty's Armed Forces and their families, this is a great opportunity for the general public to sample the fantastic service and facilities of this very special venue.

We are extremely fortunate that our inaugural conference will benefit from some of the nations leading authorities on the Victoria Cross and its history.
Guest Speakers

Colonel Patrick Mercer OBE MP for Newark & Author
Michael Naxton - Curator of the Ashcroft Collection
Kevin Brazier - Author of The Complete Victoria Cross
Dr Tony Pollard - Director of the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology Glasgow University
Jane Penrose - Author & Publishing Consultant, Descendant of Nevill Coghill VC

Guest of Honour

Mr Duane Ashworth, father of L/CPL James Ashworth VC 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards

Cost
£35 per person
Tea & Coffee will be provided on arrival and in the afternoon, a buffet lunch is also included.

Places can be booked by visiting
http://www.victoriacrosstrust.org/conference.php


 

6th August

Victoria Cross recipients will be at the heart of plans to mark the centenary of the First World War, it has been announced. Special commemorative paving stones will be laid in the home towns of all those in the United Kingdom awarded the Victoria Cross for valour "in the face of the enemy" during the conflict as part of efforts to mark the centenary of the Great War next year.

As part of centenary events, new measures to restore war memorials across the country have also been announced. Other plans include a programme of cultural events, candlelit vigils and a service of commemoration attended by Commonwealth leaders. The centenary of Britain's entry into the war will be marked on August 4 next year with a service of commemoration at Glasgow Cathedral for Commonwealth leaders on the day after the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. On the same day, a ceremony will be held at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission St Symphorien  Military Cemetery in Mons, Belgium, where men believed to be the first and last Commonwealth casualties of the war are buried. A candlelit vigil will be held at Westminster Abbey at the end of the day with the last candle extinguished at 11pm - the moment war was declared.

Other events include a programme allowing two pupils and one teacher from every state-funded secondary school in England to visit the battlefields of the Western Front.

One year from the start of the four-year centenary programme, new measures announced today include help to restore war memorials up and down the country, as well as Victoria Cross recipients being honoured. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced a national competition to design specially-commissioned paving stones which will be presented to councils in the areas where VC recipients of the First World War were born.

There will be 28 stones unveiled next year to commemorate medals awarded in 1914, and other stones will be unveiled each year up until  2018. Each stone will also have a QR reader, which people can scan using a smart-phone to reveal details about the recipient.

Mr Pickles said: "It is our duty to remember the British and Commonwealth troops who lost their lives fighting in the Great War and we are determined to make sure their bravery for King and Country is not forgotten. "Laying paving stones to mark these Victoria Cross heroes will ensure that there is a permanent memorial to all the fallen who fought for our country and the competition is a great way for people from all corners of the United Kingdom to get involved. "This will connect communities to their shared history, help residents understand how their area played its part in the Great War, and ensure memories of that sacrifice for British freedom and liberty are kept alive for generations to come."

The Government has also announced more help will be made available for local communities to restore and refurbish their First World War memorials, with a new website to be created to make sure people across the country can get funding and support so that all memorials are in good condition for November 2018. Culture Secretary Maria Miller said: "The First World War had a fundamental effect on the course of our history. "It also saw nearly a million British military and civilian deaths, heroes from communities across the Commonwealth who fought for King and Country. But as time passes, the living links that connect that terrible time and the present day have dwindled. So it is really important that we mark the centenary which saw some of the darkest days in our history and remind everyone of the sacrifice that was made -and how it has affected all our lives today."

The Heritage Lottery Fund today announced the first grants under its new #6 million First World War - Then and Now small grants programme, announced by David Cameron last October. Today also sees the launch of a campaign to get 100 employers signed up to the new Centenary Apprenticeship scheme, in 100 days. The aim is to get companies who existed 100 years ago, which focus on crafts with a modern application, to join up.

The centenary will be marked by a programme of cultural events and activities presented by the First World War Centenary Partnership, established and led by the Imperial War Museums (IWM). This autumn IWM will launch the programme with an online centenary cultural events calendar on 1914.org.

2nd April

I never thought that I would be recommending to our readers to purchase a copy of Hello Magazine. However, this week's edition does cover Johnson Beharry's wedding.

26th March

The London Gazette dated 22nd March. L/Corporal James Ashworth, 1/Grenadier Guards

L/Corporal Ashworth and his platoon were ordered into Nahr-e-Saraj on June 13 to engage an insurgent sniper team. They came under fire as soon as they landed, prompting L/Corporal Ashworth to lead his team in a 300-metre charge to the enemy position in a local village. Two insurgents were killed in this initial attack but a follow up assault by Afghan police stalled when a patrolman was shot and killed as the enemy fled.

Despite the ferocity of the insurgent's resistance, Ashworth refused to be beaten. His total disregard for his own safety in ensuring that the last grenade was posted accurately was the gallant last action of a soldier who had willingly placed himself in the line of fire on numerous occasions earlier in the attack.

With no regard for his own safety, L/Cpl Ashworth again led from the front of his team, advancing on an insurgent compound and using grenades to drive the final remaining enemy to an outbuilding. The insurgent was now being supported by fire from several positions, with the enemy desperate to protect their sharpshooter team. The immediate priority for L/Cpl Ashworth's team was now to neutralise the final sharpshooter and extract as soon as possible.

Seeking to break the stalemate using his final grenade, L/Cpl Ashworth dropped to the floor and crawled behind a knee-high wall that ran parallel to the front of the outbuilding. With just enough cover to conceal his prostrate form, he inched forward on his belly. Bullets flew over his head as he edged forward and the enemy continued to engage the rest of his team. When he was within five metres of the insurgent's position L/Cpl Ashworth was desperate to make his last grenade count. He deliberately crawled out from behind the wall, exposing himself to fire to get a better angle for his throw.

L/Cpl Ashworth was now in full view of the enemy just metres away, with rounds hitting the floor just centimetres around him. He was preparing to throw the grenade when he was tragically hit by enemy fire.

 

18th March

Congratulations to newly-promoted Sergeant Johnson Beharry VC on his marriage today to Mallissa Venice Noel at the Old Marylebone Town Hall.

16th March 2013

This morning it has been announced that the Victoria Cross is to be awarded posthumously to Lance Corporal James Ashworth of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards. Aged 23, he was from Corby, Northants. He died on 13 June 2012 in Helmand Province,
 Afghanistan while attacking Taliban-held compounds in a village. He is the second VC to be awarded for gallantry in Afghanistan. An official announcement will be made next week. 

30th December 2012

Belatedly, a memorial to the only VC to be awarded on D-Day to Sergeant Stan Hollis is to be erected in the centre of his home town of Middlesbrough. Around £80,000 needs to be raised for the work. Those wishing to make a donation can visit the appeal website stanleyehollismemorial.co.uk or via "TheStanley E.Hollis VC Memorial Fund", 54A, Church Street, Guisborough, Cleveland TS14 6B

21st November

Congratulations to member Paul Strong who receives his OBE for services to education from H.M.The Queen today. Paul's ancestor was George Strong who was one of the first to receive the Victoria Cross at Hyde Park on 26th June 1857.

4th November

I have a new VCS wheel cover for a Toyota RAV4 to fit spare tyre size 235/60 for sale @ £85 plus postage


 

31st October

Australian Army

Awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia

Corporal Daniel Alan Keighran, VC

Citation

 For the most conspicuous acts of gallantry and extreme devotion to duty in action in circumstances of great peril at Derapet, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan as part of the Mentoring Task Force One on Operation SLIPPER.
Corporal Keighran deployed to Afghanistan in February 2010 with the 6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment. On 24 August 2010 he was a member of a partnered fighting patrol with soldiers of the Afghan National Army’s 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 205th (Hero) Corps which was engaged by a numerically superior and coordinated enemy attack from multiple firing points in three separate locations. The attack was initiated by a high volume of sustained and accurate machine-gun and small-arms fire which pinned down the combined Australian and Afghan patrol and caused a loss of momentum.
In the early stages of the attack, and upon realising that the forward elements of the patrol needed effective fire support, Corporal Keighran and another patrol member moved under sustained and accurate enemy fire to an exposed ridgeline to identify enemy locations and direct the return fire of both Australian and Afghan machine guns.
On reaching this position and with complete disregard for his own wellbeing, Corporal Keighran deliberately drew enemy fire by leaving the limited cover he had and moved over the ridgeline in order to positively identify targets for the machine gunners of the combined patrol. After identifying some of the enemy firing positions, Corporal Keighran, under persistent enemy fire continued to lead and mentor his team and move around the ridge to both direct the fire of the Afghan and Australian machine gunners and to move them to more effective firing positions.
As the intensity of enemy fire grew, Corporal Keighran returned to the crest of the ridgeline to identify targets and adjust the fire of Australian Light Armoured vehicles. His actions resulted in the effective suppression of enemy firing points, which assisted in turning the fight in the favour of the combined patrol. Moving to a new position, Corporal Keighran deliberately and repeatedly again exposed himself to heavy enemy fire to assist in target identification and the marking of the forward line of troops for fire support elements whilst simultaneously engaging the enemy.
Realising that the new position provided a better location for the patrol’s joint fire controller, Corporal Keighran moved over 100 metres across exposed parts of the ridgeline, attracting a high volume of accurate enemy fire, to locate and move the fire controller to the new position. He then rose from cover again to expose his position on four successive occasions, each movement drawing more intense fire than the last in order to assist in the identification of a further three enemy firing points that were subsequently engaged by fire support elements.
During one of these occasions, when his patrol sustained an Australian casualty, Corporal Keighran with complete disregard for his own safety, left his position of cover on the ridgeline to deliberately draw fire away from the team treating the casualty. Corporal Keighran remained exposed and under heavy fire while traversing the ridgeline, in order to direct suppressing fire and then assist in the clearance of the landing zone to enable evacuation of the casualty.
Corporal Keighran’s acts of the most conspicuous gallantry to repeatedly expose himself to accurate and intense enemy fire, thereby placing himself in grave danger, ultimately enabled the identification and suppression of enemy firing positions by both Australian and Afghan fire support elements. These deliberate acts of exceptional courage in circumstances of great peril were instrumental in permitting the withdrawal of the combined Australian and Afghan patrol with no further casualties. His valour is in keeping with the finest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.

 


Personal biography
Corporal Daniel Alan Keighran, VC

Daniel Alan Keighran was born in Nambour, Queensland on 18 June 1983 and spent his formative years in regional Queensland.
He enlisted in the Australian Army on 5 December 2000 and completed his Initial Employment Training at the School of Infantry in Singleton, New South Wales.
In 2001, Corporal Keighran was posted to the 6th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (6 RAR), where he served as a Rifleman in Delta Company. He deployed to Rifle Company Butterworth Malaysia in 2001, on Operation CITADEL - East Timor in 2003/2004 and again to Rifle Company Butterworth Malaysia in 2004.
Corporal Keighran was promoted to Lance Corporal in 2005 and then served within Mortar Platoon, Support Company, 6 RAR.
In 2006, he deployed on Operation CATALYST Iraq where he served as a Bushmaster driver, a role he also filled on deployment to Afghanistan with Operation SLIPPER in 2007, where he served in support of the Special Operations Task Group Rotation 4/5.
In 2009, he was promoted to Corporal and posted back to Delta Company, 6 RAR.
In 2010, Corporal Keighran deployed to Afghanistan on Operation SLIPPER with Mentoring Task Force 1 (MTF-1), becoming a mentor midway through his tour.
For his actions carried at Derapet, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, he was invested with the Victoria Cross for Australia by Her Excellency the Governor-General of Australia at Government House, Canberra on 1 November 2012.
Corporal Keighran transferred to the Active Reserve in 2011, at the same time commencing a civilian career in the mining industry. He is currently posted to the 11th/28th Battalion, the Royal Western Australia Regiment (11/28 RWAR), a Reserve infantry battalion of the Australian Army. He is married to Kathryn.
Corporal Keighran has been awarded the following honours and awards:
 

    • Victoria Cross for Australia
    • Australian Active Service Medal with Clasp Iraq and Clasp ICAT
    • Iraq Campaign Medal
    • Afghanistan Campaign Medal
    • Australian Service Medal with Clasp East Timor
    • Australian Defence Medal
    • United Nations Mission in Support of East Timor Medal
    • NATO Non Article 5 Medal with Clasp ISAF
    • Meritorious Unit Citation for 1-MTF
    • Infantry Combat Badge
       

 

 

18th September

Please accept my apologies for being off-line for nearly a whole month. I am afraid that a combination of ill-health, a house move and a foul-up between BT and Virgin meant that the Society website was not available. The next Journal is complete and should be out a little earlier than usual. Please make note of the new address:- 7, Oakham Road, Exton, Rutland LE15 8AX

4th July

The wreck of the WW1 submarine E.14 has been found intact in the Sea of Marmara, Turkey. She is significant as two separate commanders were awarded the Victoria Cross for outstanding gallantry; Lt-Cdr.Edward Boyle and Lt-Cdr.Geoffrey Saxton White.

12th April

Abject apologies for the delay in getting the current Journal to all members. Problems at the printers but I am assured that the Journals are being despatched today. Thank you for your patience.

1st April

The unveiling of the memorial plaque to Crimean War VC Charles McCorrie is to be performed by HRH The Duke of Gloucester at Msida Bastions Cemetary, Malta at 10.20am on Monday 16th April. My thanks to Julian Gatt who was instrumental in finally honouring this forgotten hero who lies in an unmarked grave.  

30th March

Please accept or apologies for the lateness of the Journal. It is being printed next week and should be with most members by the weekend.

1st March

The Canadian War Memorial has just acquired its 33rd VC. This was awarded to Private John Francis Young, who was a stretcher-bearer with the 87th Infantry Battalion. He won it for outstanding gallantry in saving wounded near Dury, France on 2nd September 1918.

14th February 2012

We have just learned the rather disappointing news that the VC recovered by the police in Australia is a replica.

31st December 2011

It is reported from Australia that the police have arrested a father and son for a string of crimes throughout New South Wales and Queensland. A treasure trove of jewellery, cash and other valuable items worth $6.5m has been uncovered. One of the items is a WW1 Victoria Cross. So far, the recipient is unknown but is must have been taken sometime ago as no VCs have been reported stolen recently. As soon as we learn of the VC recipient, we will post his name.

23rd November

A statue to Herbert George Columbine of the Machine Gun Corps is to be erected on the seafront at Walton on the Naze, Essex. The image on the left shows a superimposed photo of what the statue will look like in situ. Columbine was awarded a posthumous VC for gallantry on 22nd March 1918 at Harvilly Wood, France.
A limited number of bronze marquettes are for sale to raise funds for the statue at a cost of £1,200.00 plus VAT. All cheques to be made out to "Columbine Statue Fund".
All enquiries to Mike Turner
100, Butchers Lane, Walton on the Naze CO14 8UD
phone 01255 677088
The sculptor is John Doubleday.

30th October

The current Journal has been delayed due to problems at the printers. It should be printed and distributed this coming week. Apologies for delay.

 

29th September

We have received unwelcome news that the Victoria Cross Grove in Dunloran Park, Tunbridge Wells has been desecrated. Scrap metal thieves have wrenched the brass and copper plaques from their stone plinths. They followed this with the theft of a large chapel bell from the Kent and Sussex Crematorium. One despairs of the greed and callousness of those who choose to live outside the bounds of normal society

19th August

We have learned from Liam Dodd of Dublin that at 2.00pm on 10th September in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, a pair of plaques will be placed on the graves of Thomas Duffy VC (Madras Fusiliers) and James Byrne VC (86th Regiment). These two brave men were awarded the VC for gallantry during the Indian Mutiny and have no marked grave. Anyone who wishes to attend would be very welcome. For full details contact Liam Dodd, 00353 1 2895085

12th August

A project is being launched to erect a statue to the well-known Cheshire VC, Alfred Thomas "Todger" Jones. It is proposed that it will be sited opposite the War Memorial in the Runcorn Memorial Gardens. The appeal hopes to raise £60,000. Further local projects are for statues of Thomas Wilkinson VC and Thomas Mottershead VC.
If you wish to support this worthwhile project, please contact:
Tony Miller
27 Godstow
Samdymoor
Runcorn
Cheshire WA7 1UE
e-mail: tonymiller27@yahoo.co.uk

5th May

Can anybody answer a question posed by a member? Which member of the family received Edward Mannock's posthumous VC presented by George V in July 1919?

1st May

With sadness we learned of the death at the age of 65 of Professor Richard Holmes. He popularised military history and was a great communicator and raconteur . He will be greatly missed.

21st April

We have learned the sad news that Tul Bahadur Pun has died yesterday at the age of 92.  . He had travelled to his family home in Myagdi, Nepal a month ago to take part in family worship.

16th April

Our own Tom Johnson has been involved in a project with a library in Canada which now contains the record of every VC recipient. Details may be Googled on Victoria Cross Reference Library Ameliasburg Canada.

4th April

Latest VC, Ben Roberts-Smith, has donated his Cross to the Australian War Memorial

15th March

The current edition of the Journal has been sent away to the printers and should be distributed within the next 10 days.

23rd January

Corporal Ben Robert-Smith became the 98th Australian to receive the Victoria Cross. Today in Perth, Governor-General Quentin Bryce presented Corporal Roberts-Smith with his Cross.

The actions for which Corporal Roberts-Smith earned his VC took place on June 11 last year after helicopters landed his troop near the village of Tizak in Afghanistan's Kandahar province to capture or kill a senior Taliban commander.
The VC citation states the unit was immediately pinned down by machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire from elevated Taliban positions, and two soldiers were wounded.Under covering fire, Corporal Roberts-Smith and his patrol manoeuvred to within 70m of three Taliban machine guns in a fortified position south of the village.
The patrol commenced an attack on the position but after getting within 40m were prevented from going further by heavy and sustained fire.
As Corporal Roberts-Smith headed toward a small building that provided some cover, hesaw an insurgent ready to engage his patrol so instantly shot him dead at point-blank range.He then showed his own position to the insurgent machine gunners to draw fire away from his patrol, enabling his patrol commander to throw a grenade and silence one of the guns."Seizing the advantage, and demonstrating extreme devotion to duty and the mostconspicuous gallantry, Corporal Roberts-Smith, with a total disregard for his own safety, stormed the enemy position, killing the two remaining machine gunners," the citation reads.
Corporal Roberts-Smith went on to attack other positions and he and another patrol member killed more insurgents as his troop, no longer pinned down, cleared the village of Taliban.
The citation says the decisive engagement caused the Taliban to retreat from the Shah Wali Kot district and Corporal Roberts-Smith's most conspicuous gallantry in a circumstance of extreme peril was instrumental to the success of the troops against a numerically superior force.
"His valour was an inspiration to the soldiers with whom he fought alongside and is in keeping with the finest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force," the citation says.Corporal Roberts-Smith was awarded the Medal for Gallantry for bravery in June 2006 when his patrol was manning an observation post under insurgent attack near Afghanistan's Chora Pass.At one point, while alone in an exposed position, he used his sniper rifle to stop the advance of 16 insurgents and held his position while under fire from other militia until air support arrived.Following the actions for which he was awarded the VC, Corporal Roberts-Smith was posted back to his regiment's base in Perth in time to be with his wife Emma for the birth of their twins, Eve and Elizabeth.While his VC and his gallantry medal make him the most decorated member of the Australian Defence Force, he may still return to frontline duty.

CORPORAL Benjamin Roberts-Smith's citation for bravery and his impressive military record.
Awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia
Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith, VC, MG
Citation

For the most conspicuous gallantry in action in circumstances of extreme peril as Patrol Second-in-Command, Special Operations Task Group on Operation SLIPPER.
Corporal Benjamin Roberts Smith enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in 1996. After completing the requisite courses, he was posted the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment where he saw active service in East Timor. In January 2003, he successfully completed the Australian Special Air Service Regiment Selection Course.
During his tenure with the Regiment, he deployed on Operation VALIANT, SLATE, SLIPPER, CATALYST and SLIPPER II. Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith was awarded the Medal for Gallantry for his actions in Afghanistan in 2006.
On the 11th June 2010, a troop of the Special Operations Task Group conducted a helicopter assault into Tizak, Kandahar Province, in order to capture or kill a senior Taliban commander.
Immediately upon the helicopter insertion, the troop was engaged by machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire from multiple, dominating positions. Two soldiers were wounded in action and the troop was pinned down by fires from three machine guns in an elevated fortified position to the south of the village. Under the cover of close air support, suppressive small arms and machine gun fire, Corporal Roberts Smith and his patrol manoeuvred to within 70 metres of the enemy position in order to neutralise the enemy machine gun positions and regain the initiative.
Upon commencement of the assault, the patrol drew very heavy, intense, effective and sustained fire from the enemy position. Corporal Roberts Smith and his patrol members fought towards the enemy position until, at a range of 40 metres, the weight of fire prevented further movement forward. At this point, he identified the opportunity to exploit some cover provided by a small structure.
As he approached the structure, Corporal Roberts Smith identified an insurgent grenadier in the throes of engaging his patrol. Corporal Roberts Smith instinctively engaged the insurgent at point-blank range resulting in the death of the insurgent. With the members of his patrol still pinned down by the three enemy machine gun positions, he exposed his own position in order to draw fire away from his patrol, which enabled them to bring fire to bear against the enemy. His actions enabled his Patrol Commander to throw a grenade and silence one of the machine guns. Seizing the advantage, and demonstrating extreme devotion to duty and the most conspicuous gallantry, Corporal Roberts Smith, with a total disregard for his own safety, stormed the enemy position killing the two remaining machine gunners.
His act of valour enabled his patrol to break-in to the enemy position and to lift the weight of fire from the remainder of the troop who had been pinned down by the machine gun fire. On seizing the fortified gun position, Corporal Roberts Smith then took the initiative again and continued to assault enemy positions in depth during which he and another patrol member engaged and killed further enemy. His acts of selfless valour directly enabled his troop to go on and clear the village of Tizak of Taliban. This decisive engagement subsequently caused the remainder of the Taliban in Shah Wali Kot District to retreat from the area.
Corporal Roberts Smith’s most conspicuous gallantry in a circumstance of extreme peril was instrumental to the seizure of the initiative and the success of the troop against a numerically superior enemy force. His valour was an inspiration to the soldiers with whom he fought alongside and is in keeping with the finest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.

Benjamin Roberts-Smith was born in Perth on 1 November 1978.
He enlisted in the Australian Army on 11 November 1996.  He completed his training at the School of Infantry, Singleton, New South Wales. In 1997, Corporal Roberts‑Smith was posted to the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) where he served as a Rifleman in C Company, before advancing on to be a section commander in Direct Fire Support Weapons platoon.
During his tenure with 3RAR, Corporal Roberts‑Smith deployed twice as part of the Rifle Company Butterworth Malaysia, and conducted two operational tours of East Timor including INTERFET in 1999.
In 2003, Corporal Roberts-Smith completed the SASR selection course and was selected to commence the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) reinforcement cycle. On completion of the reinforcement cycle, he was posted to 3 Squadron, where he served as a member of the Tactical Assault Group West and the Contingency Squadron.
While with 3 Squadron, Corporal Roberts‑Smith was a member of a number of training and assistance teams throughout South East Asia.  He was deployed on operations to Fiji in 2004, and has also deployed on Recovery Operations, as well as a number of personnel security detachments in Iraq throughout 2005/2006.
2006 saw Corporal Roberts‑Smith deployed as part of the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) in Afghanistan where he was subsequently awarded the Medal of Gallantry.  He was again deployed with the SOTG in Afghanistan in 2007, and on his return was posted to Operational Support Squadron as a member of the Selection Wing where he took part in the training of SASR Reinforcements.
In 2009, Corporal Roberts‑Smith was then posted to 2 Squadron where he deployed as a patrol second in command to Afghanistan. Upon his return, Corporal Roberts‑Smith completed the SASR Patrol Commanders Course, and in 2010 was again deployed with the SOTG in Afghanistan. For his actions carried out within Tizak, Afghanistan, he was invested by Her Excellency the Governor‑General of Australia at Campbell Barracks, Perth on 23 January 2011.
Corporal Roberts‑Smith is currently posted to the Special Air Service Regiment. He is married to Emma, and they are the proud parents of 5‑month old twin girls, Eve and Elizabeth.

21st January

More details are emerging about the action of the SAS soldier who is to be awarded the Victoria Cross. According to eye-witness accounts, Corporal Ben, or RS as he is known to his mates, charged  Taliban heavy machine-gun positions that had pinned down the 24 strong SAS detachment. Within minutes three enemy guns had been silenced and numerous Taliban lay dead. Ben had taken them out single-handedly. His comrades said it was the most extreme example of conspicuous gallantry since Albert Jacka had jumped into a trench full of Turks at Gallipoli in 1915, killing seven with his rifle and bayonet. Corporal Ben was awarded the Nedal for Gallantry in December 2006 The Victoria Cross will make him the most decorated Australian soldier in decades.


20th January

The Australian Press have announced today that an un-named member of the Australian SAS is to receive the Victoria Cross in a ceremony in Perth on Sunday 23rd January. Senior defence sources confirmed the battle after which the soldier was recommended for the VC occurred last October in the Sha Wali Kot region of northern Kandahar. The soldier, from Western Australia and in his early 30s, is the second member of the Perth-based SAS to receive the Cross in two years - the other being Mark Donaldson. 

14th December

We learn with sadness that Lachhiman Gurung VC passed away yesterday aged 93.We published an article about him in our special Gurkha edition of the October 2009 Journal.  Despite his frailty, Lachhiman Gurung still made public appearances - his last few being the opening of Lord Ashcroft's VC Gallery on 10th November and at the Cenotaph for following day. A full obituary will appear in our next Journal.

23rd November

My name is Bob Bird, I am the Chairman of the Samuel Parkes V. C. Wigginton War Memorial Committee. We are a group of residents from a small Staffordshire village neat Tamworth, were Samuel was born in 1815, who later became the first private soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross for his exploits during The Charge of The Light Brigade.

We are raising funds for a memorial to be dedicated to Samuel on the village green, in addition those from the village who made the ultimate sacrifice in wars since, will also be remembered. The whole community has rallied behind the cause, raising just over £6000 so far towards the total of £12.000 required, with more fund raising planned.

To help raise money we have put together a Special Limited Edition of a 100 only Boxed Set of Commemorative Cards at a realistic price of £15 plus any postage Could your organization help in any way please distribute them please.

If you can, please contact by email or ring me on 01827 310431

 

16th November

The following heart-warming story appeared in yesterday's Sun newspaper.
 

TWO drunken yobs tried to start a fight with three strangers - who turned out to be the military's most decorated hard men.

The thugs, who had a Staffordshire bull terrier with them, got a surprise comeuppance after hurling abuse at the smartly-suited trio in a street.

They had no idea their intended "victims" were a hero Royal Marine, an Army captain and a VC-winning SAS hero.

The louts pushed and shoved the three men, attempting to provoke them into a punch-up.

After ignoring polite advice to "walk away" they suddenly found themselves on their backs while their vicious-looking dog fled yelping.

The incident happened as L/Cpl Matt Croucher, 26, and Captain Peter Norton, 47, both George Cross winners, were walking through central London with Aussie Cpl Mark Donaldson, 31, after a reception at Buckingham Palace. Though they were in civilian clothes they were wearing their medals on their chests.

A witness to the incident said: "It was a case of yobs picking on the wrong people.

"After they ended up on the ground the guys just calmly adjusted their suits and walked off."

Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/campaigns/our_boys/3227540/Military-heroes-in-yobs-rout.html#ixzz15RX5rvhK

11th November

Today sees the official opening of the long anticipated Lord Ashcroft Gallery at the Imperial War Museum. The Ashcroft Victoria Cross Collection, currently numbering 164, is being exhibited along with the IWM's own large collection of VCs and George Crosses in the new state-of-the-art gallery paid for by a £5 million donation from Lord Ashcroft. The result is nothing short of stunning. A most innovative way of displaying so many outstanding gallantry groups makes this gallery arguably the best of its kind anywhere. When you visit, give yourself plenty of time because there is so much to see and do that the hours will just pass in a flash.  

10th November

The current edition of the Journal has been delayed. It will be posted today. Apologies to all. 

13th July

AFGHANISTAN HERO PRESENTS MEDAL TO HIS REGIMENTAL MUSEUM
MEDIA PHOTOCALL / INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY
Friday 16 July at the Ministry of Defence, London, 4.00pm
 

The Conspicuous Gallantry Cross awarded earlier this year to Lance Bombardier Gary Prout, Royal Artillery, is to be presented to Firepower, The Royal Artillery Museum this Friday, 19 July ,at the Ministry of Defence, London, at 4.00pm. The medal will be presented by Lance Bombardier Prout himself to Major General R L Barrons CBE, Chairman of Firepower, The Royal Artillery Museum who plan to display the rare gallantry award at the museum in South East London.
 
Lance Bombardier Prout was awarded the medal for risking his life in 2009 by attempting to save the life of one of his colleagues under intense enemy fire in Afghanistan.  A member of 19th Regiment Royal Artillery, Lance Bombardier Prout was tasked to patrol and probe the Taliban's forward defences in the area south of Musa Qaleh. This was one the most dangerous areas to work in, as the insurgents had heavily fortified the area with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and concealed firing posts. Almost every patrol came under enemy fire.
 
After several hours the patrol was attacked and pinned down by numerous enemy firing points using small arms and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs). One of the soldiers was hit by the explosion and was stranded, in the open, unable to move due to his injuries. Ignoring the obvious danger, Lance Bombardier Prout broke cover and ran forward in full view of the enemy to help his colleague. The enemy saw him administering first aid and refocused their fire on him.
 
Despite the increasing fire, he managed to drag the casualty to safety and get him to a medic. As soon as he was satisfied that his colleague was in good hands, Lance Bombardier Prout once again risked his life, returning to his fire support team to help the fight. Using a smokescreen and calling for air support they managed to extract themselves back to base without further injury.
 
His citation states: "Prout consciously risked his life, on three separate occasions, and it was a miracle that he himself was not killed. He displayed the most incredible courage."
 

THE MEDIA ARE INVITED TO THIS PHOTOCALL / INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY ON FRIDAY 16 JULY AT THE MINISTRY OF DEFENCE, LONDON, 4.00PM.
PLEASE NOTE THAT FOR SECURITY CLEARANCE WE MUST HAVE FULL DETAILS OF ANY MEDIA WHO WISH TO ATTEND BY 3PM ON TUESDAY 13 JULY.

For more information please contact Frank Crosby on 0759 511 9582 or email frank@musedevelopment.org.uk
 

 

It would appear that the stolen VC group (below) was, in fact, a replica. 

26th June

We learned today that the VC, MM group belonging to Thomas Patrick Neely was stolen from the home of his great nephew's house in Crewe on Friday. In anyone learns of this group being offered for sale, please either contact the VC Society or the Cheshire CID.

28th May

Born in Bermondsey, Albert  McKenzie was an able seamen in the First World War who took part in the famous Zeebrugge raid of St George's Day 1918. While most of those with him were killed, Albert McKenzie saw off several enemy troops in the harbour at Zeebrugge, leaving him severely wounded but ultimately able to survive.Albert McKenzie was the first London sailor ever to receive the Victoria Cross and the first sailor to be awarded the VC by the votes of his comrades. McKenzie, was awarded his VC by George V in August 1918 but caught influenza which, because of his weakened resistance after his injuries, led to his death on 3 November 1918, just days before the armistice.
Albert had been a member of the Decima Street Boys' Club founded as a branch of the Oxford and Bermondsey Club which survives to this day in Webb Street, and the initiative to create a memorial has come from the club.
The proposed memorial has been designed by Rotherhithe blacksmith Kevin Boys with SE1 architect Tim Wood. They have also collaborated on a memorial to Isambard Kingdom Brunel which is planned for the southern approach to the Rotherhithe Tunnel.
The memorial will be mounted on a stone and concrete ramp which will evoke the harbour wall at Zeebrugge where McKenzie's heroic exploits took place.
The appeal hopes to raise a five-figure sum for the memorial, with any surplus being given to the Oxford and Bermondsey Club to continue their work with local young people.
Local MP, Simon Hughes,has outlined an ambitious timetable for the appeal. If the money can be raised quickly, the finished memorial could be unveiled later this year on Armistice Day. The organisers are keen to ensure that 'ownership' of the memorial is widely shared across the community, with individual donations capped at £100 and business donations limited to £1,000.

12th April

A new project has been started by Ian Loftus to have the graves of William Alexander Kerr VC and John Edmund Commerell VC restored. Both are buried in Cheriton Road Cemetery, Folkestone, Kent and both graves have in a sad state of repair. All contributions towards this fund should be sent to Ian Loftus, 2 Vincent Close, Sandgate, Folkestone, Kent CT20 3NL

2nd April

Published in today's edition of The Scotsman

Lance Corporal Samuel Frickleton, of Slamannan, Stirlingshire, was awarded the military's highest honour for his actions in the Battle of Messines. His bravery was so outstanding that his commanding officer claimed he could have won the Victoria Cross "twice over".
Yet, because he had emigrated to New Zealand before the conflict, his heroism has been largely unknown in his native land until now, and on Saturday a memorial cairn will be unveiled in the village of his birth.
The memorial service has been organised by James Kerr, 47, a member of the Slamannan Orange Lodge, and Robert Jack, a relative of Frickleton, after they discovered the astonishing story.
Mr Kerr was put in touch with Mr Jack, who had researched the family's history, and together they organised the memorial cairn, which will be unveiled at a service to commemorate Frickleton's actions.
The service will be attended by relatives of Frickleton, a representative of the New Zealand Army, the Lord Lieutenant of Stirling and Falkirk, and several MPs and MSPs.
Mr Jack, 63, said: "The memorial is a tribute to all the servicemen and women from the village who have done their bit in all wars."
Frickleton was born in 1891, the son of Samuel and Elizabeth Frickleton. The family emigrated to New Zealand to take advantage of the plentiful jobs on offer in the coal mining industry, and the following year saw the outbreak of the First World War.
Frickleton and his four brothers joined the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, and they all fought at Gallipoli in 1915. Samuel was invalided home and subsequently discharged as medically unfit for active service. However he re-enlisted in 1916 and was sent to Belgium as part of the 3rd Battalion Rifle Brigade, just as the Great War was entering its most intense period of fighting.
On 7 June, 1917, the British Army launched a massive offensive against the entrenched German positions near the village of Messines in West Flanders. Some 216,000 British troops were deployed against an estimated 126,000 German troops. Frickleton found himself in the middle of the fighting.
His Victoria Cross citation describes his act of heroism: "Although slightly wounded, Lance Corporal Frickleton dashed forward at the head of his section, rushed through a barrage and personally destroyed with bombs an enemy machine gun and crew, which were causing heavy casualties. He then attacked the second gun, killing the whole of the crew of 12.
"By the destruction of these two guns, he undoubtedly saved his own and other units from very severe casualties and his magnificent courage and gallantry ensured the capture of the objective."
Frickleton was severely wounded later in the war and was evacuated to England. After the war, he was presented with his Victoria Cross by King George V.
He then returned to New Zealand to a hero's reception, and he was acclaimed at an open-air ceremony in Christchurch. He returned to the UK in 1937 to represent New Zealand at the coronation of King George VI, and during his trip he took the opportunity to revisit Slamannan.
Samuel Frickleton died in New Zealand in 1971, aged 80, and is buried in Taita Serviceman's Cemetery in Naenae.
In June 2007, a plaque commemorating his bravery was unveiled at the Messines Ridge British Cemetery in Belgium.

 

1st April

Following a visit to the Imperial War Museum, London, we can report that the extended VC/GC Gallery is progressing. It will house 157 VCs from Lord Ashcroft's Collection, plus 47 VCs and GCs from the IWM Collection, making it the largest public display of its type in the world. The new Gallery will be opened on 11th November 2010.

18th March

The new edition of the Journal is being printed and should be with members by next week

30th January

A Memorial Committee has been formed to to raise funds to erect a statue on Reading's only VC, Trooper Fred Potts. He was awarded the Cross for the saving life of a comrade in Gallipoli in 1915. 

1st January 2010


Member Peter Elkin has sent the following massage regarding his ancestor, Samuel Parkes, the Charge of the Light Brigade VC.

I just wanted to let you know something of interest re my ancestor Samuel Parkes VC.
Samuel's actual place of birth was in a small village called Wigginton which is on the very outskirts of Tamworth.
The villagers are very keen indeed to erect a monument to him, they are intending it to be in the form of an obelisk. They have formed a committee which is called The Samuel Parkes VC Wigginton War Memorial Committee, comprising of a group of dedicated residents campaigning for a monument to be placed on the village green. The group formed following the distribution of flyers by Bob Bird in July, asking for villagers to come forward and help with this venture. The War Memorial will primarily honour Wigginton’s most famous son, Samuel Parkes VC, but will also commemorate all who laid down their lives in other conflicts. Their enthusiasm is amazing and although the memorial may cost in the region of £3,000, they have already raised over £900 with the county councillor pledging to at the very least match fund any fundraising that the villagers do and the Parish Council saying likewise. They intend to make it a very special day indeed when the monument is dedicated and if anyone from the society, including your own good self wishes to attend then I am sure it will be fine. I understand that the Green Howards have a Crimean re-enactment group and they may be involved, I have made contact with the Queens Royal Hussars and I am contacting the Crimean War Research Society to let them know, too.

This will be very special to me, for as you know Samuel lay in an unmarked grave until 1999 when I traced the burial place in Brompton cemetery and laid a memorial stone. In 2004 I had a plaque fixed in the church where he was baptized and now it is looking very much like 2010 will see a monument erected to him at the place of his birth (in fact it seems that the memorial will be within a hundred yards of his actual birthplace). I attach artistic impressions of the planned monument.

If you wish contact Peter his e-mail is-peterelkin@hotmail.com

31st December

We wish all our members a Happy and Prosperous 2010.

23rd November

It was reported in The Daily Telegraph on 21st November that Noel Chavasse's priceless double VC group has been purchased by Lord Michael Ashcroft.

Captain Chavasse's service and gallantry medals were left by his family decades ago to St Peter's College, Oxford. The college has now sold the medals to Lord Ashcroft, the billionaire Tory peer. According to college sources, the price was "close to £1.5 million", easily topping the previous world record for a medal, rumoured to be a private sale worth £1 million.

Captain Chavasse received one of only three VCs and Bar – or double VCs – that have been awarded since the medal was created by Queen Victoria in 1856, initially to honour servicemen from the Crimean War.

The Chavasse medals are now guaranteed place of honour in the new Lord Ashcroft Gallery, which will open at the Imperial War Museum next year and which is being built with a £5 million donation from the Tory peer.

The gallery will house Lord Ashcroft's collection of VCs, which he started to build up in 1986. It is now the largest collection of VCs in the world and is estimated to be worth at least £30 million. VCs and George Crosses already owned by the museum will also go on display in the gallery.

14th July

We have added our support for the erection of a Blue Plaque at the Douglas Building, Marshalsea Road, London SE1 to honour Arthur Henry Cross VC, MM. He lived there for the last 30 years of his life but was a lifetime native of the area. If anyone would like to add weight to this application, then please write to:- Libby Wardle - Blue Plaques Team, English Heritage, 1 Waterhouse Square, 138-142, Holborn, London EC1N 2ST

 

9th July

It is with sadness that we have learned of the death at the age of 90 of Edward Kenna VC, Australia's last WW2 VC. He was awarded his Cross for oustanding gallantry at Wewak, New Guinea on 15 May 1945 when fire from a Japanese bunker was holding up the company's advance. Private Kenna stood up in full view of the enemy less than 50 yards away and engaged the bunker, firing his Bren gun from the hip. The enemy returned the fire and bullets actually passed between Kenna's arms and body. Undeterred, he remained completely exposed and went on firing until his magazine was empty, when he continued with a rifle. As a result of his gallantry the bunker was taken without further loss.

1st July

An appeal has been launched for donations towards a memorial to the twenty VCs from Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. It is hope that a memorial will be erected near the Albert Ball VC statue at Nottingham Castle.
All donations to:- Nottingham & Nottinghamshire Victoria Cross Committee
c/o Ernest Smith
Sheriff House
Bath Street
Nottingham NG1 1DF
e-mail: ben@ernestsmith.co.uk 

26th June

Today is the 152nd of the first VC Investiture at Hyde Park.

 

30th May

SUBSCRIPTION INCREASE

After seven years of keeping our price constant, we regret that we must increase our annual subscription. Due to increases in production costs and postage, which we have been absorbing over the last two years, we are forced to make this increase. The alternative is too sad to contemplate.

As of 1st June 2009, UK annual subscription will be £30. Overseas subscription will be £35

The Journal still represents excellent value for money because it is the only publication that exclusively concentrates on the Victoria Cross
Please respond to this notice by increasing your Standing Orders or cheques to £30 UK and £35 for Overseas with immediate effect.

 

30th April

Our apologies for not keeping the site up to date. This was due to a technical fault beyond the ken of the Editor.
We are pleased to announce that our appeal for donations for the Thomas Young VC memorial has been successful and a suitable stone has now been ordered. Our thanks to the generosity of those members who subscribed, especially in this economic fraught times.

27th March 2009

We had a large response to our Mystery VC Photo in the March issue. Many members identified most of the group but the definitive answer came from Geoff Robertson, who owns the original press photo, which has the names type on the reverse. Thanks to Geoff and all who submitted answers.

Back row, left to right - SgtJ.Moyney, Capt.G.A.Boyd-Rochfort, Capt.G.H.Frisby, Cpl.W.D.Fuller, Sgt.J.Macauley, Coy.S.M. G.Evans
Front row, left to right - L/Cpl.G.H.Wyatt, L/Sgt.O.Brooks, Col.J.V.Campbell, Col.the Viscount Gort, Sgt.R.Bye, L/Sgt.F.McNess

 23rd March

Happy birthday to Tul Bahadur Pun VC who is 86 today.

22nd January

In a gesture of great generosity, Trooper Mark Donaldson has donated his Cross to the Australian War Memorial, where it will be on public display.

16th January 2009

ON THE AWARDING OF THE VICTORIA CROSS TO TROOPER MARK GREGOR DONALDSON

 

It is with great pride that I announce that today, the Governor General will award an Australian Soldier - Trooper Mark Donaldson of the Special Air Service Regiment - the Victoria Cross for Australia. As Australia's highest military honour, it is only awarded to those who display the most conspicuous gallantry in the face of the enemy. In the history of our nation, only 96 Australians have been accorded this ultimate recognition of gallantry, dedication and sacrifice. Trooper Donaldson becomes the 97th Australian recipient of this award, and the first recipient of the Victoria Cross for Australia instituted in 1991.

Trooper Donaldson has been awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry under fire during operations in Afghanistan in September 2008. An excerpt from the citation for the award is as follows:

On 02 September 2008, during the conduct of a fighting patrol, Trooper Donaldson was travelling in a combined Afghan, US and Australian vehicle convoy that was engaged by a numerically superior, entrenched and coordinated enemy ambush. The ambush was initiated by a high volume of sustained machine gun fire coupled with the effective use of rocket propelled grenades. Such was the effect of the initiation that the combined patrol suffered numerous casualties, completely lost the initiative and became immediately suppressed. It was over two hours before the convoy was able to establish a clean break and move to an area free of enemy fire.

In the early stages of the ambush, Trooper Donaldson reacted spontaneously to regain the initiative. He moved rapidly between alternate positions of cover engaging the enemy with 66mm and 84mm anti-armour weapons as well as his M4 rifle. During an early stage of the enemy ambush, he deliberately exposed himself to enemy fire in order to draw attention to himself and thus away from the wounded soldiers. This selfless act alone bought enough time for those wounded to be moved to relative safety.

The patrol was forced to conduct numerous vehicle manoeuvres, under the intense enemy fire, over a distance of approximately four kilometres to extract the convoy from the engagement area. Compounding the extraction was the fact that casualties had consumed all available space within the vehicles. Those who had not been wounded, including Trooper Donaldson, were left with no option but to run beside the vehicles throughout.

During the conduct of this vehicle manoeuvre to extract the convoy from the engagement area, a severely wounded coalition force interpreter was inadvertently left behind. Of his own volition and displaying complete disregard for his own safety, Trooper Donaldson moved alone, on foot, across approximately 80 metres of exposed ground to recover the wounded interpreter. His movement, once identified by the enemy, drew intense and accurate machine gun fire from entrenched positions. Upon reaching the wounded coalition force interpreter, Trooper Donaldson picked him up and carried him back to the relative safety of the vehicles then provided immediate first aid before returning to the fight.

On subsequent occasions during the battle, Trooper Donaldson administered medical care to other wounded soldiers, whilst continually engaging the enemy. Trooper Donaldson's acts of exceptional gallantry in the face of accurate and sustained enemy fire ultimately saved the life of a coalition force interpreter and ensured the safety of the other members of the combined Afghan, US and Australian force. Trooper Donaldson's actions on this day displayed exceptional courage in circumstances of great peril.

In accepting this award, Trooper Donaldson has also shown tremendous humility and has recognised that his actions were undertaken as part of a team. All Australian Soldiers should feel tremendously proud of the actions of Trooper Donaldson, and the recognition that the award of the Victoria Cross represents. His actions, and those of the other members of his patrol, are exemplars of the very best in Australian soldiering.

On behalf of all members of the Australian Army, I congratulate Trooper Donaldson on his being awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia.

K.J. GILLESPIE, AO, DSC, CSM

Lieutenant General

Chief of Army

16 January 2009

30th December

Obituaries have appeared in today's newspapers announcing the death of Eric Twelves Wilson VC. He died at the age of 96 on 23rd December. His death leaves nine surviving holders of the Victoria Cross.  

17th November

The "Mystery VC" in our latest Journal has been identified as Thomas Cadell, the Indian Mutiny VC.

24th October

The October Journal is now printed and being distributed. Apologies for the delay.

17th October

Two men have been arrested in connection with the theft of medals from Waiouru Army Museum last December. Charles Upham's priceless double VC was amongst the haul that included 9 VCs and 2 GCs. All medals were recovered but until now, no one had been arrested.

17th October

The John Brunt VC pub in Paddock Wood, Kent will be receiving a new pub sign after 7 years. The Sign will be unveiled by Eric Knight, a former boyhood friend of John Brunt’s on Remembrance Sunday, November 9th after the town parade. So it will take place outside the pub at around 11.30 a.m. – 11.45 am. For details, see "Events".

2nd October

Congratulations to Eric Wilson VC who is 96 today

2nd September

We have just learned the sad news that Ian Fraser VC passed away yesterday morning after being admitted to hospital three weeks ago. He was the last surviving Naval VC.

26th August

Ned Malet de Carteret has sent us a news item regarding the purchase of a VC with connections with Jersey. The Jersey charity Raise the Standard has purchased the VC group to Lt.Henry Pitcher from Anne Allen-Stevens, his great-great-niece, for £110,000. With great generosity, Mrs Allen-Stevens has donated the money to the UK charity Help for Heroes. The medals will return to Jersey at the beginning of September and are expected to go on public view shortly.
Lt.Pitcher was awarded the VC for his gallant conduct in the 1st Punjab Infantry while attacking a hilltop fortification in the Umbeyla campaign of 1863.

24th July

Congratulations to L/Cpl.Matthew Croucher of the Royal Marines on his award for the George Cross. There will be many, however, who would wonder why he was not awarded the Victoria Cross as he was on active duty in a hostile area. There have been several similar acts in the past that have been recognised with the VC.

8th July


We have learned today from Lord Ashcroft's Office and the Imperial War Museum that the largest collection of Victoria Crosses are to go on public display following Lord Ashcroft's £5 million donation to the Imperial War Museum. They will be displayed in a new gallery alongside the 50 VCs and 29 George Crosses already held by the Museum.
The new display, in what will be called the Lord Ashcroft Gallery, is due to open in the autumn of 2010.

19th May

We have received many messages and attachments from Canadian members regarding the Canadian version of the Victoria Cross. The following extract from the official National Defence booklet makes it clear that this award is purely Canadian even to the composition of the metal used.
The Victoria Cross Production Planning Group consulted many stakeholders, including active and veteran military personnel and organisations, metallurgists, historians and other specialists. Several discussions led to the formulation of a proposal which contained their recommendations.
Firstly, the Victoria Cross should be made in Canada. Secondly, because of the significance of the Victoria Cross to Canadians, the decoration should reflect the past, the present  and the future of the country. The planning group recommended that the decoration be made of a mixture of three types of metals: the specific gunmetal used in the production of British Victoria Crosses; metal from an historically significant Canadian source, specifically a medal minted in 1867 in commemoration of the Confederation of Canada; and, finally, metals from all regions of Canada from coast to coast.
As a first step. a "slice" of the original gunmetal was graciously donated to Canada by the United Kingdom and the various metals were gathered. At the same time, scientists from Natural Resources Canada analyzed some Victoria Crosses in the Canadian War Museum's collection to derive a precise "formula" for the metallurgical composition they were going to create.
...Fleurs-de-lis were added to the insignia's scroll, alongside the traditional rose, thistle and shamrock, in keeping with the floral elements found within the Royal Arms of Canada.

It is planned to run a full article about this significant event in October's Journal.

14th May

We have received the following news from a Canadian member about the Canadian version of the Victoria Cross.

OTTAWA, May 13 /CNW Telbec/ - The National Council of Veteran Associations has been advised that the Government will unveil the Canadian Victoria Cross on Friday, May 16, 2008.
On February 2, 1993, Queen Elizabeth II approved the creation of a Canadian VC. The award has the same criteria as the original British decoration. Exception: Canadian award will have Latin inscription, Pro valore, replacing the equivalent inscription For Valour on the British Commonwealth VC.
If the private members' bill put forward by MP Douglas Fee in October 1991 is approved, the Canadian VC would rank first, followed by the three Canadian bravery medals (i.e. Cross of Valour; Star of Courage; Medal of Bravery).
The design would apparently be the same as the British Victoria Cross. It would be presented by the Governor General of Canada, with the names being published in the Canada Gazette.
The award of a medal for valour to a Canadian would be the sole responsibility of the Canadian Government, although it is understood that the British Commonwealth Victoria Cross would remain as the highest recognition for courage in the Commonwealth, and thus could be awarded to a Canadian service person for action in any of the Commonwealth forces.


 

                                                                    5th May

Under the heading "Crime won't pay for Ashcroft's villains" in the Sunday Telegraph, Lord Ashcroft posted a second reward of £75,000 for the arrest and conviction of the thieves who stole the priceless medals from New Zealand's Waioura Army Museum.

21st April

A brand new Junior Ratings accommodation block named after a recipient of the Victoria Cross has been officially opened at HMS Excellent in Portsmouth.

 
The new block is opened

The new accommodation block at HMS Excellent is officially opened by Commander Mike Phelps Royal Navy (Rtd)
[Picture: Royal Navy]

The building, 'Mantle VC', which provides 55 single en suite rooms, has been named after Jack Mantle VC and was completed by the Royal Navy Estates Organisation (RNEO) - the latest in an extensive programme of Single Living Accommodation modernisation across the RN Estate.

The block, containing en-suite cabins, is designed to house 55 Junior Ratings and marks the completion of the 930th bed space delivered by RNEO in partnership with Flagship Training Ltd.

Mantle VC block has been designed to achieve an excellent rating under DREAM (environmental sustainability rating) and represents the RN's commitment to providing high quality accommodation for personnel. The selected method of construction was a modular build with external brick elevations under a traditional tiled roof with the building being developed to complement the existing adjacent McKenzie VC accommodation.

12th March

Lord Ashcroft to Exhibit 50 Victoria Crosses at Spink.
Britain’s largest display of the world’s highest and most prestigious Decoration for Gallantry for over half a century will be open to the General Public in Spink’s Main Gallery, 16th-25th April 2008. The Exhibition features Crosses, together with how they were won, from the Crimean War to the Second World War, encompassing 15 different armed conflicts.
Full details here:  http://www.spink.com/news/current_news/Victoria_cross.asp

4th March

We are saddened to announce the death of Gurkha VC hero, Bhanbhagta Gurung who died on 1 March at the age of 86. He was awarded the VC for his outstanding gallantry when he killed an enemy sniper then ran forward under heavy fire, clearing four Japanese foxholes and silenced a machine-gun post. He then, with the help of a Bren gunner, repelled an enemy counter attack, inflicting heavy losses.  He was presented with his Cross by King George VI at Buckingham Palace on 16th October 1945.

25th February

It is reported in The New Zealand Herald that a notorious criminal with nearly 100 convictions is understood to have masterminded the theft of the New Zealand war medals from behind bars. He was serving several years for drug offences but was in contact with an associate who carried out the theft. The pair would then collect any reward offered. While in prison, another criminal, Daniel Crichton, was used to negotiate the return of the medals. In return, he was granted bail while awaiting trial for running a drugs ring. The disgusted reaction of the public has been tempered by the safe return of the medals.

17th February

We have learned more details about the recovery of the stolen NZ VCs. An Auckland lawyer, Chris Comeskey, used his contacts in the criminal underworld to find the two perpetrators of this shocking burglary. He spent 10 weeks in discussion with these men under the cloak of lawyer-client privilege. The first breakthrough came a month ago when the thieves agreed to give up one of the George Crosses to the police as "a sign of good faith" that more was to come. A combination of national and international media coverage and the fact that New Zealand's criminal fraternity strongly disapproved of the heist, put pressure on the two thieves to drop off the remaining 95 medals at Comeskey's office.  

16th February

Great news! The Medals stolen from Waioura Army Museum have been recovered.
This morning's New Zealand Herald has the following report:-
Military medals stolen from the museum in December have been recovered and the net is closing on those who stole them, policed announced today.
The priceless collection of 96 medals, awarded to 12 of New Zealand's most highly decorated war heroes, was stolen from the Waioura Army Museum in the early hours of 2nd December 2007. The medals included 9 VCs. At a press conference in Palmerston North Today, inquiry head, Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Bensemann said all the medals had been recovered yesterday in good condition and had been verified as being those stolen from Waioura.
The medals were returned as a result of a $300,000 reward being offered last month by British medals collector, Lord Ashcroft, and Nelson businessman, Tom Sturgess. The reward was three times the highest previous reward offered by police.
 "The reward was offered for information leading to the safe return of the medals and that has encouraged a person to come forward and facilitate the return of the medals to police," Mr.Bensemann said. He would not say how much of the reward was being paid, but that "an amount" would be transferred to a third party on Monday, following several weeks of negotiations.
No immunity from prosecution or support for reduction in any sentence for any offender was given in return, he said. "New Zealand Police celebrate the return of these national treasures. The recovery of the medals was a top priority. Nevertheless, our job won't be complete until we find the perpetrators of this burglary and bring them to court," said Mr.Bensemann. "What I can say is that the recovery of the medals has certainly narrowed the focus of the investigation, the net is closing and we are continuing to work very hard at pulling it tight."
The medals have been sent for forensic examination, which could take some weeks. Mr.Bensemann urged the public to continue to come forward with information that may assist the inquiry. "Even the smallest snippet of information can be of use in such investigations."
Doug Elliott, the eldest son of Victoria Cross recipient, Keith Elliott, said his family was delighted by the breakthrough. "I have just been on the phone to my sister in Wellington and we are delighted, and we would just like to thank the New Zealand Police for their excellent work."

 

31st December

Australia is considering retrospectively awarding its own version of the Victoria Cross to war heroes it believes were overlooked by Britain. The newly elected Labour government will set up a special war medals tribunal to review cases of Australian servicemen who were denied VCs in both World Wars and Vietnam. In 1991, Canberra decided it would award its own version of the VC, rather than deferring to Whitehall.

14th December

Thanks to the sterling work of Tom Johnson, we can now offer an Index facility of all the Journals we have published (see file "Journal Index" to left).

5th December

The police investigation into the NZ VCs robbery is now world-wide, fearing that this was a theft to order crime as the robbers took just four minutes to remove the most valuable exhibits.
Lord Ashcroft has offered a reward of NZ$200,000 for information leading recovery of New Zealand's "Crown Jewels".

2nd December

Nine Victoria Crosses and two George Crosses were amongst the medals stolen from the Waiouri Army Museum early today. Included was one of the most prestigious of VC groups, Charles Upham's VC & bar. The other VCs stolen were the cream of New Zealand's VC recipients;  Samuel Frickleton, Leslie Andrew, Reginald Judson, John Grant, Henry Laurent, Jack Hinton, Clive Hulme and Keith Elliott. To learn more details of this shocking crime, contact http://www.stuff.co.nz/print/4306566a10.html  

27th November

PARCELS FOR SOLDIERS IN AFGHANISTAN
Our servicemen serving in the remote camps in Afghanistan would really appreciate receiving some comforts from home. The Americans are swamped with parcels from their public, but we fail our soldiers. We suggest filling a shoe box with such items as Mars Bars, Travel Scrabble or Draughts or Chess, Sweets & Chocolate, Small Christmas Cakes, small tubes or pots of Tabasco, Marmite or Brown Sauce (very popular in spicing up dry rations), Frisbies, Tennis Balls, Packets of Balloons, Biros, Sports Magazines, Puzzle Books, Ginger Biscuits, Refresher Tissues, Small Pocket Torches and Xmas Cards for them to send.
The boxes or parcels should not weigh more than 2 kgs to go POST FREE.
Address to one of the camps listed below:-
A British Soldier (or Marine)
FOB Delhi or Inkerman or Sanguin or Dwyer
OP Herrick
Afghanistan
BFPO 792
POST FREE Parcels should be sent at the LATEST in the first week in December. Parcels can still bee sent after the deadline but will be charged postage.
As many of the soldiers have no families and get nothing, it is worth adding on the left hand corner of the parcel- "Please give to a Soldier who has not been sent anything from home".

21st November

Everard Lisle Phillips, the Indian Mutiny VC, former pupil of St Edmund's College, Ware, Hertfordshire has been honoured with the unveiling of an engraved plaque in the College's Chapel.

19th November

The house and estate that belonged to the late Richard Annand has been sold and a new house is being built adjacent to the existing one. This will incorporate a VC as art stone to the front gable. The new building will be named Annand House. 

21st October

The Victoria Cross & George Cross Gallery at the Imperial War Museum, London, has a new display. The VC group to Lt.Cdr.Eugene Esmonde is now displayed with that of his great-uncle, Captain Thomas Esmonde.

28th September

Colchester Civic Society, with the help of Colchester Garrison, are to place plaques on the houses lived in by Colchester's two holders of the Victoria Cross - Lieutenant James Colvin and Colour Sergeant Edmund Fowler. We have been able to contact the family of Lt.Colvin, but not of Clr.Sgt.Fowler. If anyone has any information of Edmund Fowler, or is a member of the family, would they please contact Joan Soole by e-mail
j.soole@hotmail.co.uk 

 

5th September

The death is announced of Sir Tasker Watkins VC at the age of 89. He was awarded his Cross for gallantry in the weeks that followed D-Day. On 16th August 1944, Lt.Watkins of 1/5th Welch Regiment, being the only officer left unwounded, led a successful charge against two German strong points at Barfour. When counter-attacked by a numerically superior force, he led a bayonet charge which defeated the enemy. Due to a wireless failure, he did not receive the orders to retire and consequently found himself surrounded by the Germans. While attempting to rejoin his battalion, he was challenged by an enemy post. He ordered his men to scatter and charged the post with a Bren gun and silenced it. He then led the remnants of his company back to battalion headquarters.
In 1948, he was called to the Bar and progressed to High Court Judge. Sir Tasker was for many years the Vice-Chairman of the VC & GC Association. He was passionate about Rugby and became President of the Welsh Rugby Union Association. At today's World Cup match, the Welsh team will wear black arm bands in respect of this outstanding Welshman. 


12th August

Alister Williams is preparing his second volume of Heart of the Dragon and is anxious to trace the families of the following VC recipients:- William Bissett, John Linton, George Prowse and Ian Liddell. Anyone with information, please contact Alister on alister@gotadsl.co.uk

9th August

There will be a service of dedication for a headstone to be laid at the unmarked grave of Robert Humpston VC to be held at 11.00am on Saturday 8 September at the Nottingham General Cemetery. All are welcome to attend.

 

6th August

Major John Thomson McKeller Anderson VC, Argyll & Sutherlands. 23/4/1943.
 We have been asked by a family member to trace the following:- Mrs Moira Few (Anderson's wife who remarried), Janet, his daughter, and Private W.Irvine, his batman.

2nd July

We have just received news from a couple of New Zealand members that an SAS soldier has been awarded the Victoria Cross for New Zealand. He is Corporal Bill (Willy) Apiata who saved the life of a comrade under heavy fire from the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2004. He carried a severely wounded fellow soldier across open ground while coming under intense attack. Corporal Apiata will be presented with his Cross by the Governor General in a ceremony at Government House in Wellington later this month.
The official citation reads:-
Corporal Bill Henry Apiata (M181550)
"Lance Corporal (now Corporal) Apiata was, in 2004, part of a New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS) Troop on patrol in Afghanistan, which laid up in defensive formation for the night. At approximately 0315 hours, the Troop was attacked by a group of about twenty enemy fighters, who had approached by stealth using the cover of undulating ground in pitch darkness. Rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) struck two of the Troop's vehicles, destroying one and immobilising the other. The opening strike was followed by dense and persistent machine gun and automatic rifle fire from close range.
The attack then continued using further RPGs and machine gun and rifle fire. The initial attack was directed at the vehicle where Lance Corporal Apiata was stationed. He was blown off the bonnet by the impact of RPGs striking the vehicle. He was dazed, but not physically injured.
Two other vehicle crew members had been wounded by shrapnel; one of them, Corporal D, was in a serious condition. Illuminated by the burning vehicle, and under sustained and accurate enemy fire directed at and around their position, the three soldiers immediately took what little cover was available. Corporal D was discovered to have sustained life-threatening wounds. The other two soldiers immediately began applying basic first aid. Lance Corporal Apiata assumed command of the situation, as he could see that his superior's condition was deteriorating rapidly.
By this time, however, Lance Corporal Apiata's exposed position, some seventy metres in front of the rest of the Troop, was coming under increasingly intense enemy fire. Corporal D was now suffering serious arterial bleeding and was lapsing in and out of consciousness. Lance Corporal Apiata concluded that his comrade urgently required medical attention, or he would likely die. Pinned down by enemy fire, in the direct line between friend and foe, he also judged that there was almost no chance of such help reaching their position.
As the enemy pressed its attack towards Lance Corporal Apiata' position, and without thought of abandoning his colleague to save himself, he took the decision in the highest order of personal courage under fire. Knowing the risks involved in moving to open ground, Lance Corporal Apiata decided to carry Corporal D singlehandedly to the relatively safety of the main Troop position, which afforded better cover and where medical treatment could be given. He ordered his other colleague, Trooper E, to make his own back to the rear.
In total disregard of his own safety, Lance Corporal Apiata stood up and lifted his comrade bodily. He the carried him across the seventy metres of broken, rocky and fire-swept ground, fully exposed in the glare of battle to heavy enemy fire and into the face of returning fire from the main Troop position. That neither he nor his colleague were hit is scarcely possible. Having delivered his wounded companion to relative shelter with the remainder of the patrol, Lance Corporal Apiata rearmed himself and rejoined the fight.
By his actions, he removed the tactical complications of Corporal D's predicament from considerations of rescue. The Troop could now concentrate entirely on prevailing in the battle itself. After the engagement lasting approximately twenty minutes, the assault was broken up and the numerically superior attackers were routed with significant casualties, with the Troop in pursuit.
Lance Corporal Apiata had thereby contributed materially to the operational success of the engagement. A subsequent medical assessment confirmed that Corporal D would have probably have died of blood loss and shock, had it not been for Lance Corporal Apiata's selflessly courageous act in carrying him back to the main Troop lines, to receive immediate treatment that he needed." 

 

26th June

Today, exactly 150 years ago, Queen Victoria presented the first Victoria Crosses at the Hyde Park Investiture.

20th June

It is reported in the Australian press that Keith Payne has sold his Victoria Cross group of 23 medals for an undisclosed amount to Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum. "It was a hard call to make but I felt the time was right," said the 74 year old former professional soldier. The main reason for selling the VC was to provide security for his family; Flo, his wife of 53 years, their five sons, 14 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. The reason for selling to Maryborough Museum ahead of other buyers was equally heartfelt. Born and raised in Ingham and now living in Mackay, Mr.Payne was determined that his VC stay in Queensland. "I was in the army 19 years before I saw a Victoria Cross for the first time and that was when the Queen gave me mine," he said. In all, he received 23 medals for service in Korea, Malaya and Vietnam. (for details, see March 2007 Journal).

 

4th June

Belated common sense has resolved the awful blunder made by the Immigration Department in denying Ghurkha VC, Tul Bahadur Pun medical treatment in Britain as he 'failed to demonstrate strong ties with the UK." Presumably Romanies, Somalis, Algerians and Kosovans have a much closer link with this country than a member of a nation that has served us so steadfastly for nearly 200 years. 
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IMPORTANT
The Society is moving on 3rd May 2007 to
Post Cottage
Ridlington
Oakham
Rutland
LE15 9AX

Tel: 01572 823112

31st March

Apologies to all members for the delay in sending out the new Journal. Publication has been delayed to include a late item but the good news is we will be sending out the Journal on Monday/Tuesday. Thank you for your patience.

12th March

We have received the following appeal from Ron Booth, a descendent of Zulu War VC, Anthony Booth.

"I have just done a little booklet on John Caffery V C. In my research, he was buried in a grave with his parents in the Wilford Hill Cemetery. His name is not on the headstone. The Nottingham Post are publishing the article on him for Rememberance Week. I have contacted a Funeral Director to ask for the cost of a headstone, and a donation. The local Western Front Ass, has promised a donation as the Nottinghamshire Boys Brigade, in which John was member. His great nephew has signed the deeds to take over the grave, so he can give permission to erect an headstone."
All donations to:-
The Memorial Fund
19 Vernon Crescent
Ravenshead
Notts NG15 9BN

2nd February

Two Geordie VCs are being honoured thanks to the efforts of High Spen Primary School in Gateshead. With the support of the local paper, they have raised an amazing £32,000 for a memorial to be erected commemorating local heroes, L/Cpl William Dobson and Pvt.Thomas Young. The memorial will be built in the school grounds and be ready by next July.

29th January

It was with great shock and sadness that we learned of the murder of David Rattray at his popular tourist lodge, Fugitive's Drift. He was arguably the best raconteur and story teller about the Zulu War and many members will have been spellbound at his lectures at the lodge or here at the Royal Geographical Society in London. His death robs us of an exceptional larger than life individual with a fund of stories who made a bridge between his beloved Zulus and interested Europeans. The motive for the killing was not theft but most likely political. As a prominent white landowner, he was a prime target for those politicians who would wish to follow Mugabe's example and confiscate white-owned farms, irrespective of the misery it has brought Zimbabwe. One can only pray that sanity will prevail and that David's murder is not a prelude to a large scale tragedy. 

25th January

It has reported that the grave of Lt.Col.Sir Alexander Stanhope Cobbe VC at St Peter's Churchyard, Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire is in very poor condition. The local detachment of the Army Cadet Force are appealing for help with funding for the preservation of the grave. The contact is ACF Headquarters on 01234 353291

29th December

The Scots Guards Association Club is planning to erect a headstone to Private Reynolds V.C. who was awarded his medal for the part he played at the Battle of the Alma .Donations should be sent to: The Scots Guards Association Club, 2 Clifton Terrace, Edinurgh, EH12 5DR

14th December

It is announced today that Corporal Bryan Budd of 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment is to be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for gallantry in Afghanistan. On 20th August, he was part of a 24-man patrol which was sent to clear a cornfield to protect Royal Engineers working in the area. The Paras came under heavy fire from the Taliban firing from behind a wall. With several comrades lying wounded, Corporal Budd single-handedly charged the enemy position causing the enemy fire to slacken, thus enabling his section and the wounded to reach shelter. His body was later recovered lying with two dead Taliban. 

21st November

It has been reported from New Zealand that Charles Upham's unique double VC group will remain in New Zealand thanks to the family of his former commanding officer. The group has been purchased by the Imperial War Museum and loaned to New Zealand for 999 years to be displayed at QEII Army Memorial Museum at Waioura. The purchase of the group was funded by a sizable grant from a charitable trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation. The trust was established by the family of the late General Sir Howard Kippenberger, who lobbied for the bar for Upham's first VC, which was won in Crete in May 1941. He and Upham served together in the 20th Battalion
It is worth noting that while the group would remain on display in New Zealand, they could potentially be temporarily displayed in the UK within the branches of the IWM.

7th November

Michael Ashcroft's long-awaited book, based on the new TV series Victoria Cross Heroes, was launched yesterday evening at the Imperial War Museum. The author restated his intention to put his 145 VCs on display in a permanent Exhibition of Gallantry and will shortly announce its location. Also there will be a DVD of the series which will be on sale from 27th November (for details log on to www.victoriacrossheroes.com)
Lord Ashcroft drew warm applause when he announced his intention to send a copy of the DVD to the history department of every secondary school in the country.

 

30th October

NEWS RELEASE                                           

King Cetshwayo (c. 1826 – 1884), King of the Zulus, has today (Monday 30th October), been commemorated with an English Heritage Blue Plaque at 18 Melbury Road, London, W14, where he stayed in the Summer of 1882 following his exile from Zululand. During this time, he met Prime Minister Gladstone and visited Queen Victoria at Osborne House. Although the duration of his stay was short, his visit made a significant political impact - very few African princes, and no other Zulus (save those accompanying Cetshwayo) had visited London at this time.

 

29th October

We have received the following enquiry from the Netherlands. Can anyone answer this, please?
" Could you tell me if it's true that someone who's been rewarded the Victorian Cross is/was allowed to weave a purple thread through their tartan/tweed to show for it?"

24th October

We learned today from Major Maurice French that Cecelia Kenna died on 9th October at the age of 97. She was the daughter of Paul Kenna, the Omdurman VC, whose story was told in Journals 2,3 & 4.

28th September

It is reported in the Daily Telegraph today that British commanders in Afghanistan have recommended that their men receive almost 180 awards for gallantry, including several VCs. This follows the most intense fighting since the Korean War and involving much hand-to-hand fighting against the Taliban in Helmand Province. Officers are thought to have recommended about half a dozen VCs, mostly for the troops of 16 Air Assault Brigade. If approved, then an announcement will be made before Christmas.

23rd September

The launch of a new biography about John Brunt VC was held in the pub that bears his name. The local author, Richard Snow, is trustee of Compaid, an organisation that helps the disabled to learn computer skills and all profits from the book will go to the Trust. Amongst those who attended were John Brunt's sister, Mrs Dorothy Miller, a very spry 86, and her son and daughter. Many of the villagers of Paddock Wood, who remembered John, also attended. The whole event was covered by two TV and a local radio station.
(see Recommended Reading)

21st September

The Victoria Cross Society send 79th birthday greeting to Bill Speakman-Pitt VC.

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7th September

A memorial stone is to be unveiled at Aston Parish Church in Birmingham on 12th September at 12:30 to Lance Corporal Alfred Wilcox VC. He was awarded his VC for gallantry on 12 September 1918 near Laventie, France as a member of the 2/4th The Ox & Bucks Light Infantry. His unmarked grave has been pinpointed by Chris Sutton to a small area and members of Wilcox's family and the regiment will attend the unveiling.

22nd August

The eagerly awaited autobiography of Johnson Beharry VC, entitled "Barefoot Soldier", is due to be launched on 2nd October. More details to follow.

15th August

Royal Mail are issuing  6 commemorative stamps on 21st September to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Victoria Cross. These will show portraits of individual recipients covering the three services from the five main nationalities.

5th August

There will be a small ceremony for the rededication of the recently renovated grave of J.C.C. Daunt VC at Redland Green Parish Church Cemetery, Redland Green, Bristol at 3.30pm on Sunday 10th September.

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31st July

There are plans to make a film of Charles Upham VC after his daughters gave the rights of his story to a film production company. The company - Fat and Thin Productions - have secured the movie rights for the book Mark of the Lion. The target release date is 2008.

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22nd July

The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Regimental Association have completed their restoration of the Dease/Godley site at Nimy, which now looks absolutely splendid and well worth a visit.

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10th May

On Monday 15th May, a party from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Association is visiting the site where the first two VCs of the Great War were won. Lieutenant Maurice Dease and Fusilier Sidney Godley defended the Nimy Bridge at Mons on 23rd August 1914 until the former was killed and the latter was wounded. The plaque that recorded their gallant defence  has fallen into disrepair so a new memorial has been made to replace it. The opportunity will be taken to also clean up the site and paint the stones at the memorial.
For a full account of this epic fight, see John Mulholland's article in our October 2002 Journal. 

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24th April

In recent days there have been two controversial items emanating from that most uncontroversial of countries - New Zealand. First, there was the new book In the Face of the Enemy by two New Zealand military historians which says that in performing his VC deed, Sergeant Alfred Hulme committed "acts of perfidy" under international law.  By disguising himself in a German paratrooper's smock, Hulme was able to penetrate a nest of enemy snipers and pick them off. Over a period of eight days, Hulme accounted for 33 German snipers during the desperate Battle of Crete. The book and statements by other academics condemn Hulme and say that the New Zealand government should apologise to the families of the Germans he killed! What a Looking Glass world we live in!
As one letter writer in the Daily Telegraph said, I expect Sgt Hulme got a right ticking-off from his mates when he got back from removing the guys who had been sniping at them.

The other contentious issue is over the proposed sale by his three daughters of Charles Upham's Victoria Cross & Bar. At the moment it is loaned to the War Museum and the sisters have offer it for sale to the New Zealand government. They have refused to stump up the asking price of $3.3 million, so there is a possibility that this most cherished of all NZ VCs could be bought privately and leave New Zealand. The sisters have understandably come in more much criticism from both the public and media.       

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19th April

Member Mike Gomersall has sent this request for information.

 "I am researching a VC hero called Thomas Bryan VC of the 25(S)Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers. Vimy Ridge, Arras April 9th 1917. He was resident in our town (Castleford, West Yorkshire) from his very early infant years and left to live in Bentley nr Doncaster in the early to mid 1930s.I have been in contact with just one of his relatives, who incidentally lives less than ten minutes walk from me, who can remember going to stay with him and his family over the weekends from mid to late 1930s until about 1942. He was also one of only three professional Rugby League players to have been awarded the VC.

I'm looking for any information about him if it is possible, maybe a plea to our members, who may have some information. I have found a great deal of information about him but the wall I am hitting is the relative wall. I just can't find any relatives even after numerous adverts in the relevant local papers brought nothing apart from letters and emails of support.

Any help from you or our members would be greatly appreciated."

mikeg@blueyonder.co.uk

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15th April

I am pleased to report that our item reported on 1st January has resulted in success. Guy Black has succeeded in having the park in Port Moody, BC named "Chip Kerr Park". A dedication ceremony and parade are being planned for this summer.

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11th April

Sir Tasker Watkins, the last surviving Welsh VC, is to be given the Freedom of the City of Cardiff on 12th April.

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15th March

We have received the following message from Ruth Wood, Chief Reporter with the Western Daily Press, Bristol, who has been looking into the apparent vandalism of Henry Jerome's gravestone.
"Having done some digging on this story I'm now 99 per cent convinced, and have reported, that it wasn't an act of vandalism at all but an accident.
Somebody well-meaning, either fans or workers in the cemetery, seem to have tried to lift it and then dropped it, cracking it accidentally. The police, interestingly, have been informed but are not considering it an act of vandalism and do not seem to be actively investigating. Hmm!
Anyway, I would very much like the younger picture of Jerome as I am now considering doing some research on topple tests - the health and safety checks that local authorities have been carrying out since a little boy was crushed by a gravestone in 2002. Unstable gravestones are laid flat, often to the great upset and anger of relatives or supporters, and then often never righted again because of a lack of money. This gravestone is a case in point as it failed a topple test and has now, however it happened, been damaged to the tune of £7,000!"

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12th March

The current edition of the Journal will be distributed later this week. It will be a bumper 150th Anniversary edition and include an exclusive article by John Glanfield (author of Bravest of the Brave) about the origins and compositions of the various sources of VC metals. There is also a piece about the 1956 Centenary Exhibition and Parade and includes for the first time the list of VCs who attended.

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1st March

Derek Payne has informed us that Keith Payne VC has been awarded the Australian Order of Merit.

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28th February

We have just heard from Les Turner, who has just returned from visiting Lansdown Cemetery. He says that last week two young boys asked the groundsman for directions to Jerome's grave. Moments later he heard a loud thud and saw three persons hurry away. The police have been called in and the local parish council have arranged to have the grave repaired. In fact, while Les was there, a couple of stonemasons were sizing up the job, so it looks as if the council are moving quickly in this instance.

25th February

We have learned that the grave of Henry Edward Jerome VC at Lansdown Cemetery, Bath has been vandalised and smashed beyond repair.

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24th February

The Royal mint will be commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Victoria Cross with the issue of a specially designed 50p coin due to be issued in April.
The Royal Mail, also, will be issuing a set of stamps in September to mark this landmark.

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29th January

Today marks the 150th Anniversary of the Warrant Instituting the Victoria Cross.

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19th January

It is with much regret that we have learned of the death of Mrs Shirley Annand MBE, wife of the late Captain Richard Annand VC of the Durham Light Infantry, on Wednesday 18th January, 2006.

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1st January 2006

There is a campaign to have a park in the town of Port Moody, British Columbia named after the famous Canadian VC, John 'Chip' Kerr. In order to help persuade the town's council to agree to this proposal, would members write to add their support for this worthy campaign. Please write to: Guy Black
                                             944 Dundonald Drive
                                             Port Moody
                                             British Columbia V3H 1B7
                                             Canada   

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22nd November

Honorary Captain Umrao Singh VC died yesterday at the age of 85. He was awarded his Cross for fighting off repeated attacks made on his section by the Japanese during the Arakan advance in December 1944. When all ammunition had been expended, Singh closed with the enemy in furious hand-to-hand fighting. He felled three enemy before being knocked unconscious. Later, when a counter-attack regained the position, Singh was found badly wounded beside his gun and with ten dead Japanese lying around him.
His death reduces the number of surviving VC recipients to twelve.

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16th October

RESTORATION APPEAL
Stephen Jackson is hoping to complete the restoration of the grave of John Daunt VC by 15th April 2006, the 120th anniversary of his death. He has the permission of the Daunt family and has set up a Bristol bank account for this purpose.
If you wish to contribute to this worthy venture, please send your donation to:-
A/C J.DAUNT GRAVE RESTORATION
Lloyds TSB
Corn Street
Bristol
Account:-2893862    Sort Code:-30-0001
or send to:-
Stephen Jackson
28 Allington Drive
Barr Court Estate
Bristol BS30 7AT
Tel:-0117 9604651

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8th October

Belfast member Michael Leavy has sent us a truly heartening newspaper cutting, which shows the extent of how much the majority of people in Northern Ireland wish for a peaceful and tolerant society.
A mural dedicated to the UFF has been removed in a Loyalist estate to make way for a giant painting of a Catholic war hero! The 20ftx30ft memorial to Leading Seaman James Magennis VC now dominates a gable wall in Tullycarnet in East Belfast. It replaces the grisly UFF 'grim reaper' mural in the style of a heavy metal album cover.
The unveiling was attended by a host of VIPs representing the UN, Royal Navy Association, British Legion and the Submariners Association. Amongst the guests was George Fleming who has done more than anyone to have Ulster's only VC properly recognised by writing Magennis's biography and campaigning for the monument that now stands at City Hall.( For details, see March 2005 Journal.)    
 

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17th September

The next Journal has now been sent to the printers, a week or so later than usual. This was to accommodate  the report on the VC & GC Memorial Service held in London last Tuesday. Hopefully, there will not be much of a delay in sending out the October Journal.

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8th September

Member James Bancroft has published a new non-political journal entitled "Brits", which celebrates British courage and achievement in all aspects of life. The first edition includes articles about John Chard VC, Stan Laurel, the early Olympian Launceston Elliot and the children's writer Mrs Molesworth. "Brits" will be published in September, January and May and for further information contact "Brits", 280 Liverpool Road, Eccles, Manchester M30 0RZ. Phone/Fax 0161 707 6455. E-mail: jwb@brits-journal.com

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3rd September

The rededication took place this afternoon at Churcham, Gloucestershire at the grave of Henry Hook VC, one of the Rorke's Drift heroes. Member Nick Thorneycroft attended and reports that it was very well attended by about 200, including descendents from both of Hook's marriages. 

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5th August

It is with sadness we must report the death on Wednesday of Canada's last surviving VC, Ernest Alvia Smith, known to all as "Smokey". He gained his Cross for a series of outstanding acts during the crossing of the River Savio on the Adriatic coast on 21-22 October 1944. 

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18th July

Paintings commissioned during the second world war to commemorate outstanding acts of bravery are now on display for the first time to mark the 60th anniversary of VE day.  Commissioned by the wartime Ministry of Information between 1940 and 1943, the works are the only visual record of some of the most courageous acts of WWII.  The pictures, which have been in storage since 1945, were commissioned for a special propaganda booklet which was meant to honour the bravest of the brave, but which the National Archive believes was never circulated.

9th July

Nick Thornicroft has pointed out that, with Trafalgar in the news recently, there were two men present at the battle who have VC links. G.R.Satorius was a Midshipman on HMS Tonnant and went on to become Admiral of the Fleet. He was the father of R.W. & E.H.Satorius, who both received VCs. Also, the Hon.M.de Courcy was a Lieutenant of the Spartiate at Trafalgar, and he was related by marriage to Thomas de Courcy Hamilton, the Crimean War VC.

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14th June

NEW !! Collectors Club established for members to buy, sell and exchange VC collectables.  See details here: Collectors Club

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7th June

Nick Thornicroft has sent an e-mail which is of topical interest, with the Lions Rugby tour of New Zealand. Two Irish Boer War VCs - Tommy Crean and Robert Johnston - toured South Africa with the British & Irish Squad in 1896. It would be interesting to find out if any players of the South African teams they played fought for the Boers a few years later.

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4th May

Bill Sweeney writes from the States that he recently visited the grave of William Seeley VC in Evergreen Cemetery in Stoughton, Massachusetts and found that it remains unmarked. Apparently, five years ago, there were moves to have a marker erected. If anyone knows of this or any plans to have a stone installed, please advise.   

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23rd April

Private Johnson Beharry will receive the Victoria Cross from the Queen at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday 27th April. Details here http://news.mod.uk/news/press/news_headline_story.asp?newsItem_id=3224

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24th March

Belated congratulations to Johnson Beharry for his well merited VC. As luck would have it, I went abroad for a holiday the day before the official announcement and missed all the excitement. I also take this opportunity to apologise for stating that Rambahadur Limbu was the last living VC, when, of course, it was Keith Payne, something I realised when I was 33,000 feet over the Atlantic!

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11th March

Tomorrow's edition of the Daily Mail will announce, unofficially, that Private Johnson Beharry will receive the Victoria Cross is the Annual Awards on 1 April. This news has long been hoped for, as Boharry's series of exploits last year in Iraq were quite exceptionally outstanding. This will make him the first living VC recipient since Keith Payne VC in 1969.

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2nd March

We have been asked by the grand-daughter of Jack Harvey VC to try and trace Nigel McCrery, who organised her grandfather's headstone in 1984. If anyone knows, please make contact.

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22nd February

The March edition of the Journal will include the following subjects:-

Charles Lucas VC - Post Script
Robert Loyd-Lindsay VC
Sir James Mouat VC
Joseph Trewavas VC
Richard Fitzgerald VC
Samuel Wassall VC
Randolph Nesbitt VC
Charles Parker VC
Medals Review
Arthur Borton VC
Oliver Brooks VC
VC Dinner 1929
Thomas Durrant VC
Edwin Swales VC
Arnhem VCs
James Magennis VC
 

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8th February

The Royal Artillery Academy, Woolwich, through which so many famous gunners and engineers passed, has stood empty for many years. Now the site is to be developed into flats and many memorials are about to be removed. Of VC interest is the Memorial to Royal Artillery recipients which is in the Great Hall and honours artillerymen from Sir Collingwood Dickson (1854) to Brigadier John Campbell in 1941.
     Of equal concern are the contents of the Royal Chapel that stands within the grounds of the old Academy, St Michael and All Angels. This is a Grade 2 listed building and one that English Heritage were impressed enough to want to preserve just two years ago. Now it is to be demolished. It contains an engraved wooden frieze naming all Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers and Indian Army VCs. There are two brass plaques; one to Lt.F.A.De Pass VC and the other to Lord Roberts VC.
     When the East India Company Academy at Addiscombe was closed and demolished, the stained glass windows were brought here and installed. Something else well worth preserving.
     It may well be that these treasures are to removed and installed in a suitable location. To date, no one has been able to verify this and until this is done there will be the fear that these monuments to the nation's heroes will be consigned to gather dust in a store or, worse, be destroyed.
     This is not something that is going to happen; it is happening now. Concerned members should contact the Royal Artillery, Woolwich to express their misgivings. 

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2nd February

The Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Captain Richard Annand will take place in Durham Cathedral at 2-30pm on Monday 7th February. General Sir Peter de la Billiere, who served with the 1st Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry in Korea, will read from John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress". No tickets are required but anyone wishing to attend should be seated by 2-15pm.

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8th January 2005

The funeral of Captain Richard Annan VC was held on 5th January at St Cuthbert's Church, Durham City. A memorial service is to be held at Durham Cathedral on 7th February. Captain Annan's death reduces the number of surviving VCs to thirteen.

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Update 26th December

It is with great sadness we must report the death on Christmas Eve of Richard Annand VC. He was awarded his Cross for conspicuous gallantry during the rearguard action of the Dunkirk evacuation on 15-16 May 1940. As a Second-Lieutenant with the Durham Light Infantry he twice repulsed a German attempt to cross the River Dyle. When the order to withdraw was given, he withdrew his platoon only to find that his batman had been wounded and left behind. Despite wounds he had sustained, he returned and carried his batman to safety in a wheelbarrow before losing consciousness as a result of his wounds.

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Update 15th December

Member Bill Smy has sent a report in today's "Toronto Sun" about the successful effort to keep Fred Topham's VC in Canada. The executors and the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion Association negotiated a price of $300,000. The latter raised $225,000 and the shortfall of $75,000 was donated by readers of the "Toronto Sun". In fact, due the generosity of its readers, there is a surplus of $25,000, which will go into a fund to "rescue" the next Canadian VC being auctioned.

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Update 28th November

The executor of Fred "Toppy" Topham VC has offered organisations in Canada the first right of refusal for the purchase of his Cross at $275,000. There is a British bid, rumoured to be $400,000, which has caused a reaction. The bidding process has been fuelled by the Federal Heritage Minister, who has stated that the Ministry will cover the shortfall or top up the bid to ensure that Topham's Cross remains in Canada.
Corporal Frederick Topham, a medical orderly with the 1st Canadian Parachute Btn, was awarded the VC for a series of acts of gallantry on 24 March 1945 during the crossing of the Rhine. Under heavy fire, which had killed two other medical orderlies, he attended and brought in a wounded man, despite being painfully wounded in the face. Refusing to have his wound attended, he carried on bringing in and helping other wounded. After he consented to have his wound treated, he then returned to his company and came upon an armoured carrier which had received a direct hit and was burning fiercely. Despite heavy mortar fire and the immediate danger of the ammunition in the carrier exploding, Topham went forward alone and rescued the three wounded occupants.   

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Update 22nd November

To coincide with this year's Remembrance activities, London Underground have commissioned 12 posters (8 Victoria Cross and 2 George Cross) to be displayed on the Victoria Line. They will remain on display until January 2005.

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Update 2nd November

It is with sadness that we learn of the death at the age of 89 of Gerald Norton VC. He was awarded the Victoria Cross as a Lieutenant in the Kaffrarian Rifles, South African Forces attached to 1/4th Bn.Hampshire Regiment, during the assault on the Gothic Line in Italy . On 31 August 1944, Lieutenant Norton was commanding a platoon during the attack on Mount Gridolfo, which the Germans held with well-sited concrete gun emplacements. When the leading platoon became pinned down by heavy fire, Norton, on his own initiative, single handed, engaged the first machine-gun nest with a grenade, killing the 3- man crew and went on the attack the second position. After ten minutes, he had wiped out two machine gun emplacements with his tommy gun and captured the survivors. Throughout these attacks, Norton came under heavy fire from a self-propelled gun. Undeterred, he went on to clear the cellar and upper rooms of a house, taking several prisoners and putting the enemy to flight. Although he had been wounded and was weak from loss of blood, he continued to lead his platoon  until all the enemy positions had been captured.
After the war, he returned to Southern Rhodesia and farmed tobacco on a 4000 acre plantation. In 2002. he became yet another victim of Mugabe's policy of evicting white farmers from their land and since had lived in a small apartment in Harare.
His death leaves 14 surviving VC holders.

 

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Update 19th October

The Woldringham Historical Society are holding a small exhibition in memory of John Berryman VC, one of the heroes of the Charge of the Light Brigade. It is to be held at the church, where he is buried; St Agatha's Church, Woldringham, Surrey (opposite the North Downs Golf Club). From Friday to Sunday, 22nd-25th October. A book is being compiled by the Historical Society and the Berryman family and will be available shortly.

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Update 15th October

The latest Journal is now available and about to be distributed to members. In a Special Anniversary edition to mark the Crimea & Zulu Wars and D-Day, articles will include:-

Charles Lucas - The First VC
The Light Brigade VCs
Henry Clifford VC
The Fame of Henry Hook VC
Thomas Lane - a "Double" VC? Part 2
Paul Kenna VC Part 4
Edgar Thomas Towner VC
Stanley Boughey - Blackpool's First VC
Hugh Malcolm VC Part 2
Stanley Hollis - D-Day VC
David Harvey Tribute
Redcoats & Zulus Report

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Update 12th October

On Sunday 24th October at 11 am, there will an an unveiling of a memorial plaque at St.Editha's Church, Tamworth, Staffs. This is to the Charge of the Light Brigade VC, Samuel Parkes of the 4th Light Dragoons. Amongst those present will be Member Peter Elkins, Parkes's great-great-great nephew and the great grandson of Trumpeter Hugh Crawford, whose life was saved by Parkes.
There is a book about Samuel Parkes entitled "Tamworth's Forgotten Hero"which Peter has written and is available from the author. Contact e-mail: peterelkin@hotmail.com

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Update 6th October

A memorial plaque is to be unveiled at St Andrews Church, Quatt near Bridgenorth on 17 October to Lieutenant Thomas Orde Lawder Wilkinson of 7 Btn, The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He was awarded a posthumous VC for gallantry at La Boiselle during Battle of the Somme on 5th July 1916.
For all details, contact Clive Blakeway of the Shropshire War Memorials Association on 01952 550205

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Update 1st October

As a result of recent the dedication of the memorial to Cornelius Coughlan VC in the Irish Republic, momentum is gathering to similarly identify and suitably mark those other unmarked and neglected graves to those brave Irishmen who fought for Britain. One of the graves of  particular significance is that of Thomas Flinn,  a drummer of the 64th Regiment, whose Indian Mutiny exploit was awarded with the Victoria Cross at the age of 15 years, 3 months - making him the youngest VC recipient. He is buried in a pauper's unmarked grave in Athlone.
The new political climate has now made it possible for people to express their true feelings and they want their ancestors who served in the British military honoured and respected. It is time to right the wrongs

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  Update 9th August

VC DEDICATION. AUGHAVALE CEMETERY, WESTPORT, CO.MAYO
SATURDAY, 7th AUGUST. 1300 hrs

A most significant event in Anglo-Irish relationships took place on the West Coast of Ireland. The Irish Minister for Defence, in the presence of the British Ambassador, unveiled a headstone dedicated to Sgt.Maj Cornelius Coughlan VC of the 75th Regiment. He was awarded the Cross for two separate acts of gallantry during the taking of Delhi in June 1857. He subsequently served in the Connaught Rangers and lived in Westport for 40 years. At the time of his death in 1915 a headstone was not erected. After the 1916 Rising, the honouring of the many Irish soldiers who served in the British Army became unpopular and eventually Coughlan became forgotten.
Times have changed and history is now viewed with a new maturity. The fact that an Irish Minister will dedicate this grave in the West of Ireland speaks volumes for the changing attitudes and is seen as a most magnanimous gesture. I am grateful to Michael Leavy for bringing this event to our attention.

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Update 12th July

Make a note in your diary for an outstanding event. 21st & 22nd August at the Royal Artillery Museum FIREPOWER, Woolwich.
As a member of the Society, you are cordially invited, free of charge, to visit the Anglo Zulu War Exhibition, REDCOATS AND ZULUS, at the above venue on the site of the historical Woolwich Arsenal. Amongst the attractions will be Zulu War Dancers, Lectures, the 1879 Re-enactors, exhibition of artefacts and paintings, Zulu War VC medal display and trade stands. Firepower will be offering trips to the Rotunda, which is not open to the general public. This houses the cannon from which the bronze was taken to make the Victoria Cross.
Invitations are being sent out to all UK members. If there are any Overseas members who would like an invitation, then please contact the Society.

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Update 4th July

Although this is strictly speaking outside the scope of the Society, can anyone answer the following question asked by one of our members? He is trying to trace details (date and citation) of a George Medal awarded to an RAF nurse (PMRAFNS). Her name was either Helen McQuaid or Helen Barron and she was awarded it for saving patients from terrorists in Malaya post WW2. If anyone can help, please contact crobins@withycut.demon.co.uk

Update 17th June

Yesterday, the launch of Max Arthur's outstanding history of the Victoria Cross took place at the Imperial War Museum. Amongst the guests were the daughters of Norman Jackson VC and Richard Aynsley West VC, Didy Grahameand Col.Ian Hywel-Jones of the VC & GC Association and Richard Bishop and John Hayward of Spink

The new comprehensive book about the Victoria Cross, SYMBOL OF COURAGE, by Max Arthur is now available. This is a major new work which covers every recipient from Mate Charles Lucas to Sgt.Ian McKay and is a 'must' for all students of the VC.

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Update 12th May

Member Nick Thornicroft has informed us that a replacement headstone to Private Francis George Miles VC is to be dedicated at St.Peter's Church, Clearwell, near Coleford, Gloucestershire on 22 May. Miles was awarded the Cross for single-handedly attacking and destroying two machine-gun nests during the Battle of the Selle on 23 October 1918.

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Update 1st May

Member John Rowe has informed us of the poor condition of the grave of Thomas Byrne VC at West Gate Cemetery, Canterbury. Byrne was awarded his Cross for outstanding gallantry during the Charge of the 21st Lancers at Omdurman in 1898. If there are any members who would like to get involved in ensuring this well-known hero has a fitting memorial, then please contact John via the Society.

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Update 22nd April

The VCs of former Framlingham College pupils William Hewitt and Gordon Flowerdew are to be presented to the Imperial War Museum on Friday 23rd April

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Update 21st April

We are advised by Clive Blakeway that a plaque to Captain J.H.C.Brunt VC is to be unveiled by his sister at Priest Weston, near Chirbury, Shropshire on 15 May. For full details, contact Clive on 01952 550205

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Update 3rd April
We are advised by member Roy Eardley that the long awaited unveiling of his father's statue will take place at Congleton, Shropshire on Sunday 18 April


Update 10th March

It is with deep sadness that we announce the death last Thursday of David Harvey.
David was best known for his definitive two-volume masterpiece Monuments to Courage
(see Recommended Reading). In the course of researching this colossal work, he built up a vast network of contacts, all of whom became friends. Even when David was laid low by the terrible injuries he suffered, he still maintained contact with so many of us. He was unfailingly generous with his time, expertise and encouragement and I shall miss our monthly chats. He was a good friend to our Society and was, in fact, its first member. His advice and friendship will always be remembered and appreciated.
I am advised that another member, the writer Max Arthur, is preparing an obituary.

 Update 16th February

An exceptional VC is to be auctioned in April by Spink. It is the VC group to Flight Sergeant Norman Jackson who gained the award for attempting to extinguish a fire in the engine of his Lancaster at 22,000 feet during a raid over Germany. A detailed account of this and his amazing escape appears in the March Journal

Update 8th January

The Dam Busters autographed menu fetched £4800 at the Wallis & Wallis auction.

Update 4th January 2004

There is an item that is of VC interest being auctioned at Wallis and Wallis of Lewes on Tuesday, 6 Jan. Item 117 is an autographed menu from the dinner to celebrate the decoration of members of 617 Squadron (The Dam Busters). Amongst the 18 signatures is that of Guy Gibson VC.

Update 12th December

At today's Morton & Eden auction, the hammer fell at £75,000 for the VC to Gunner Israel Harding,

Update 10th December

Mrs Muriel Nicolson, the widow of Flight Lieutenant James Nicolson VC, hoped to raise £30,000 by selling her husband's logbooks and his RAF tunic at Christie's on 2 December. Sadly for her, these priceless mementoes failed to reach the reserve of £20,000. (See Journal No.2 for article about the only Fighter Command VC of WW2).

Update 5th November

The exceptional First World War VC/DSO/MC&Bar group to Commander Daniel Beak was sold this afternoon at Spinks. It realised a world record of £178,250 (inc.commission), breaking the previous highest auction price of £138,000. The successful bidder is a major VC collector.

Another item of VC interest at the auction was the purchase by the regiment of Colour Sergeant G.Waller's Indian Mutiny medal, which can now be reunited with its Victoria Cross at the Green Jacket's Museum at Winchester.

Update 29th October

Morton & Eden will be auctioning another Victoria Cross in December. The group appearing for sale for the first time is that of Chief Gunner Israel Harding RN, who was awarded the Cross during the bombardment of Alexandria on 11 July 1882. He was serving on board HMS "Alexandra", when a 10 inch shell passed through the ship's side and lay directly above the powder magazine. Harding picked up the shell and threw it in a vat of water, thus saving the lives of his comrades. Coincidentally, I saw his grave at Portsmouth when I attended the memorial dedication to William Goate VC. (see 24th October news item). Estimated @ £75,000-£80,000.

Member Roy H.Eardley has produced a biography about his father, George Eardley VC,MM, who won his Cross near the Siegfried Line in 1945. Now in soft covers, the book is available to members for £5.00 plus £1.00 p&p. Please order direct from:- Ruth C.Eardley, 12 Martins Close, Trefonen, Oswestry, Shropshire SY10 9EW. A good read and great value!

A Memorial Plaque to James Cooper VC will be unveiled and dedicated at 11am  Sunday, 30 November at the Cemetery Lodge, Warstones Lane Cemetery, Hockley, Birmingham. For details, contact Clive Blakeway on 01952 550205

Update 24th October

In a brief and simple ceremony, a new memorial stone was unveiled at Southsea's Highland Road Cemetery. It is thanks to the perseverance of member Brandon Smith, who has had overcome 18 months of red-tape and official indifference, that the memorial has finally come to fruitition. The handsome black marble stone stands out amongst the rows of broken and generally neglected rows of memorials, most with military and naval connections. The erection of William Goate's gravestone now increases to 8 the number of VC memorials at this cemetery.   

William Goate VC was a Norfolk man, who joined the 9th Lancers and received his Cross for attempting to recover the body of an officer while surrounded by enemy cavalry during fighting at Lucknow on 6th March 1858. His final days were spent living in Portsmouth, where he died in 1901.

A detailed report of the ceremony will appear in the next Journal, together with an article on the life and exploits of William Goate.

Update 3rd October

The single VC awarded to Lance Corporal F.W.Holmes was sold today by Morton and Eden for £75,000

Update 22nd September

The miniature VC group to Captain Carpenter, plus signed book and assorted documents, fetched £1900 at the DNW auction. This seems slightly undervalued considering the estimate was £1800 and the expectancy was that it would set a new record for a miniature group. Perversely, a single Hancock cased miniature VC & bar sold for £1600 (estimate £250-350). 

Update 12th September 2003

An exceptional VC/DSO group awarded to T/Cdr Daniel Beak of Drake Btn. RN Div. is to be auctioned by Spinks in November.

DNW auction Friday 19th September includes a mounted group of 11 miniature dress medals attributed to Captain A.F.B.Carpenter, the Zeebrugge VC

Update 8th September 2003

The "Le Cateau" VC awarded to Lance Corporal F.W. Holmes, 2nd Battn. Kings Own Y.L.I. is being auctioned at Morton and Eden on Friday 3rd October 2003  


The next Journal of the Society is with the printer and is due for distribution in October 2003

 

Contents:

The Unveiling And Dedication Of The Victoria Cross And George Cross Memorial
Ceremonies and Dedications
The Anglo-Persian War 1856-57. The Indian Army’s First VCs. Part One
"Ulundi" Beresford VC
Paul Aloysius Kenna VC DSO ADC - Omdurman VC Part 2
Australia’s First Winner Of The Victoria Cross
Two Schoolfriends Win The Vc In The Same Battle
V.C.Who Was Once A Convict.
Sergeant David Finlay - The Silent VC
Lance-Corporal Fred Fisher - Canada’s First Ww1 VC
Hero Of Messines - Private John Carroll VC
George Gabriel Coury VC - Part 2
The Victoria Cross Under The Hammer - Michael Naxton And The Sotheby’s Auctions
We Can Turn ‘Em Back! The Life And Death Of Bruce Kingsbury VC
Fred Tilston VC
Book Reviews
Victoria Cross Mystery?


Update: 13 August 2003
Apologies for the site being offline since mid-July. We have now moved to a new server and hope to generate more frequent updates in the future.

Update: 2 July 2003
The Indian Mutiny VC group to J.C.C.Daunt sold for £110,000 at the DNW auction today (2/7/03). His miniatures fetched an additional £2000. Another item of VC interest was a commemorative medal to the Calcutta International Exhibition 1883-84, the reverse of which was inscribed 'Lord Wm.L.de la P.Beresford VC'. The estimate of £200 was way off the target as it fetched £1500! Coincidentally, there will be an article about Lord Beresford in the next Journal.

Update: 31 May 2003
A Victoria Cross group is being auctioned by Dix Noonan Webb on 2 July. It is a fine Indian Mutiny VC to Lieutenant J.C.C.Daunt of 11th Bengal Native Infantry, who charged two grape-shot shooting cannon at Chota Behar. He was also recommended for chasing mutineers in dense undergrowth, where he was dangerously wounded.

Update: 20 May 2003
The Queen Dedicated the new memorial stone to Victoria Cross and George Cross-holders at a moving and impressive ceremony held at Westminster Abbey on Wednesday, 14 May. The stone, with its beautifully enamelled replicas of the two Crosses, is inscribed with the words REMEMBER THEIR VALOUR AND GALLANTRY.

Amongst the dignitaries attending were the following VC holders; Sir Tasker Watkins, Captain Richard Annand, Flight Lieutenant John Cruickshank, Keith Payne, Bill Speakman-Pitt, Ernest Smith, Lachiman Gurung, Captain Rambahadur Limbu, Su.Major Umrao Singh, Lt.Col.Eric Wilson and Lt.Commander Ian Fraser. The last named read one of the lessons. It was a priviledge to attend such a moving ceremony in the presence of such men.

A full report will appear in the next Journal, due October 2003.

For those who were unable to attend, the following items are available from:

The VC & GC Association,
Horse Guards,
Whitehall,
London SW1A 2AX:-

VHS Video of Service of Dedication @ £12 per copy
VC & GC Memorial Booklet @ £2.50 per copy
Postage & packing included for UK & Europe.
Outside Europe add £5 per video and £1.50 per booklet.

NB: The video is on the UK(PAL) system. For other systems, please call. Conversions will cost an additional £12 per copy. For payment details, contact the Association by letter or phone (020 7930 3506).

Update:  25 March 2003:

The second edition of the Journal has been published in the new and improved format and includes some coloured illustrations.

So far, the feedback has been entirely favourable. The list of articles featured are about the following:-

The Netley Victoria Cross
George Strong VC
Paul Kenna VC, Part 1
Charles Fitzclarence VC
Gabriel Coury VC, Part 1
Richard Willis VC
Harry Greenwood VC
Henry Tandey VC
Theodore Cooke and the Zeebrugge Awards Controversy
James Nicolson VC
The Sacrifice of HMS Li Wu, Part 2
Tommy Gould VC
Richard Kelliher VC
Nand Singh VC
Two Devon Heroes Honoured - Teddy Veale VC & H.Jones VC
Book Reviews
VC Website Reviews

We are already gathering material for the third edition due next October. If you wish to contribute, please contact the Editor via the "Contact Us" link..

Update:  18 February 2003

CAPTAIN PHILIP GARDNER VC, MC The Society learned with sorrow that Captain Philip Garder VC MC of the Tank Regiment passed away on 15 February aged 88.

His Cross was awarded for his heroic saving of a comrade under heavy enemy fire. On 23 November 1941, during the attempted breakout from Tobruk, Captain Gardner was sent with two Matilda tanks to rescue a pair of armoured cars that were trapped by enemy fire. Ordering one tank to give covering fire, Garner drove his tank close to the stricken vehicles. He placed a badly wounded officer back into his armoured car and, as he secure a tow-line, was hit in the leg. When the tank moved off, the tow-rope parted. Captain Gardner returned to the armoured car and, half-carrying, half-dragging, managed to place the wounded man on the rear deck of his tank. Finding no other survivors, Gardner ordered the tank to retire. As he climbed beside the wounded man, Gardner was again wounded but managed to bring both tanks to safety. His complete disregard for his safety depite his wounds, saved the life of his fellow officer.

When Tobruk fell, Captain Gardner went into captivity. By 1944, he was incarcerated in an officer's camp in Brunswick. In a selfless and altruistic gesture, the prisoners, who themselves suffered the privations of being PoWs, organised a collection in the form of IOUs for the poor Londoners who had suffered from the Blitz. After his release, Captain Gardner arranged for the collection of these IOUs, the proceeds of which laid the foundation of the Brunswick Boys Club in Fulham.

This was a gesture entirely in keeping with a man who was selfless in his treatment of his fellow men.


Thank you for your interest.   I look forward to hearing from you.

Brian Best
Editor



   
   

 

 

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