22nd January 2015
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.
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
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 Victoria Cross Trust Annual Conference 2013
Thursday 5th September 2013
1000hrs - 1600hrs
Union Jack Club
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
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.
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.
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.
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,
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
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.
I have a new VCS wheel cover for a Toyota RAV4 to
fit spare tyre size 235/60 for sale @ £85 plus postage
Awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia
Corporal Daniel Alan Keighran, VC
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.
Daniel Alan Keighran was born in Nambour, Queensland on
18 June 1983 and spent his formative years in regional Queensland.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The current Journal has been delayed due to problems at the printers. It should be printed and distributed this coming week. Apologies for delay.
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
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Latest VC, Ben Roberts-Smith, has donated his Cross to the Australian War Memorial
The current edition of the Journal has been sent away to the printers and should be distributed within the next 10 days.
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.
Benjamin Roberts-Smith's citation for bravery and his impressive
For the most conspicuous gallantry in action in circumstances of
extreme peril as Patrol Second-in-Command, Special Operations Task Group
on Operation SLIPPER.
Benjamin Roberts-Smith was born in Perth on 1 November 1978.
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.
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.
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.
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
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."
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.
The current edition of the Journal has been delayed. It will be posted today. Apologies to all.
AFGHANISTAN HERO PRESENTS MEDAL TO HIS
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.
THE MEDIA ARE INVITED TO THIS PHOTOCALL /
INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY ON FRIDAY 16 JULY AT THE MINISTRY OF DEFENCE,
It would appear that the stolen VC group (below) was, in fact, a replica.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
The new edition of the Journal is being printed and should be with members by next week
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
I just wanted to let you know something of interest
re my ancestor Samuel Parkes VC.
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 email@example.com
We wish all our members a Happy and Prosperous 2010.
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.
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
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.
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
Today is the 152nd of the first VC Investiture at Hyde Park.
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
Our apologies for not keeping the site up to date.
This was due to a technical fault beyond the ken of the Editor.
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,
Happy birthday to Tul Bahadur Pun VC who is 86 today.
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
Chief of Army
16 January 2009
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.
The "Mystery VC" in our latest Journal has been identified as Thomas Cadell, the Indian Mutiny VC.
The October Journal is now printed and being distributed. Apologies for the delay.
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.
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".
Congratulations to Eric Wilson VC who is 96 today
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
Lord Ashcroft to Exhibit 50 Victoria Crosses at Spink.
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.
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.
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.
Great news! The Medals stolen from Waioura Army Museum
have been recovered.
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.
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).
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.
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
PARCELS FOR SOLDIERS IN AFGHANISTAN
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Major John Thomson McKeller Anderson VC, Argyll &
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
Today, exactly 150 years ago, Queen Victoria presented the first Victoria Crosses at the Hyde Park Investiture.
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).
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
We have received the following enquiry from the Netherlands. Can
anyone answer this, please?
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.
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.
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.
The Victoria Cross Society send 79th birthday greeting to Bill Speakman-Pitt VC.
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.
The eagerly awaited autobiography of Johnson Beharry VC, entitled "Barefoot Soldier", is due to be launched on 2nd October. More details to follow.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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."
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.
Sir Tasker Watkins, the last surviving Welsh VC, is to be given the Freedom of the City of Cardiff on 12th April.
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.
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.
Derek Payne has informed us that Keith Payne VC has been awarded the Australian Order of Merit.
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.
We have learned that the grave of Henry Edward Jerome VC at Lansdown Cemetery, Bath has been vandalised and smashed beyond repair.
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.
Today marks the 150th Anniversary of the Warrant Instituting the Victoria Cross.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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: email@example.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
NEW !! Collectors Club established for members to buy, sell and exchange VC collectables. See details here: Collectors Club
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
The March edition of the Journal will include the following subjects:-
Charles Lucas VC - Post Script
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Update 9th August
VC DEDICATION. AUGHAVALE CEMETERY, WESTPORT, CO.MAYO
Update 12th July
Make a note in your diary for an outstanding event.
21st & 22nd August at the Royal Artillery Museum FIREPOWER, Woolwich.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Update 3rd April
Update 10th March
It is with deep sadness that we announce the death last
Thursday of David Harvey.
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
The Unveiling And Dedication Of The Victoria Cross And George Cross Memorial
Update: 13 August 2003
Update: 2 July 2003
Update: 31 May 2003
Update: 20 May 2003
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,
VHS Video of Service of Dedication @ £12 per copy
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:-
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.
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