Author Topic: Tribute to Cheltenham VCs  (Read 3771 times)

Offline Victor Harvey

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Tribute to Cheltenham VCs
« on: Wednesday 02 September 15 14:03 BST (UK) »
William Fraser McDonell VC, Bengal Civil Service

McDONELL was the son of Aeneas Ranald McDONELL, Esq. (Madras Civil Service) and Juliana (nee WADE), spending much of his education at Cheltenham College (1841-1847) before moving to Hailbury, Herts, where he joined the Bengal Civil Service in 1850. When the Mutiny began seven years later, he was an Assistant Magistrate and Collector, and was close to the embattled town of Arrah, Bihar, India on 30th July when the relief force was compelled to retreat. All able-bodied men were called upon to assist the beleaguered soldiers, with McDONELL - who knew the terrain well - himself issued with a firearm.
McDONELL - whose hat bore two bullet holes - later estimated that 3,000 mutineers had launched the attack upon a group of about 450, with around 300 of the latter either killed, wounded or dying of wounds, or succumbing to disease as a direct result. During the same incident, Mr Ross MANGLES, also of the Bengal Civil Service, received a VC for "serving with the military during the siege, despite being wounded, (and carrying) a wounded soldier for several miles under heavy fire".
This account appears in The History of the Victoria Cross by Philip WILKINS. In the VC citation (Gazetted 17th February 1860, the official wording is that he "...guided the boat to safety by swimming alongside it". The VC and the DSO book concurs with the former description, adding "It was truly providential deliverance that (McDONNEL) escaped instant death", whilst one of the men saved by the Cheltonian ventured: "I may safely assert that it was owing to Mr McDONELL's presence of mind at his personal risk that our boat got across that day".
In spite of his ordeal in India, McDONNEL remained in the country after the Mutiny acting as a Settlement Officer in Shahabad until 1860. In later life he became a Judge of the High Court of Judicature in Calcutta - where he was highly respected - from 1874 until 1886, and returned to the UK following his retirement. He subsequently moved from London to Cheltenham and was appointed one of the Governors of Cheltenham College, as well as becoming a member of the Council. His health failing, McDONELL caught a chill on the East Gloucestershire Cricket Ground, near his home at Pitville House, and died from the effects of pneumonia on 31st July 1894, aged 64.
William McDONNEL, VC, lies buried at St Peter, Leckhampton, Cheltenham.
HARVEY, Guiting Power, Glos                     
PORTER, Gunmakers of Whitechapel
ALLEN - Blockley, BOWLES - Notgrove, BURROWS - Sevenhampton, COOK - Notgrove, DRINKWATER-LUNN - Aston Cross, FARDON - Temple Guiting, FAULKNER - Cheltenham, GADEN, GAYDEN, GAYDON, GRINHAM - Cheltenham, HART - Stow-on-the-Wold, LANE - Staverton, MOABY - Coln St Aldwyns, STAITE - Temple Guiting, TIMBRELL - Winchcombe, TYSOE - Warks & Glos, WHITFORD - Stanway, WINTLE - Forest of Dean, WYNNIATT - Stanway

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Offline Victor Harvey

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Tribute to Cheltenham VCs
« Reply #1 on: Sunday 13 September 15 10:39 BST (UK) »
Duncan Gordon BOYES, VC, Royal Navy
BOYES was born at 3 Paragon Buildings, off Bath Road, Cheltenham, 5th November 1846, the son of John BOYES, Esq. He attended Cheltenham College (1858-60) - a stone's throw from his birthplace - before joining the Royal Navy, and was later assigned to HMS Euryalus on the East Indies Station. In early September 1864, Western shipping came under fire from a Japanese warlord, prompting the British, French and Dutch navies to launch an attack on Japan in the Shimonoseki Straits. BOYES, a Midshipman, aged just seventeen, received a Victoria Cross on 6th September:
     "For the conspicuous gallantry which, according to the testimony Captain ALEXANDER, CB... BOYES
     displayed in the capture of the enemy's stockade. He carried a Colour (regimental standard) with
     the leading company, kept it in advance of all, in the face of the thickest fire, his colour-sergeants
     having fallen, one mortally, the other dangerously wounded, and he was only detained from
     proceeding yet further by the orders of his superior officer. The Colour he carried was six times
     pierced by musket balls".
His VC was gazetted on 21st April 1865, by which time he had been decorated by Admiral Michael SEYMOUR, GCB (Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth) on the Common at Southsea.
BOYES took his own life in Dunedin, New Zealand on 26th January 1869, at the age of just 22. His body was originally buried at Dunedin's Southern Cemetery, but, in 1954, it was re-interred at Anderson's Bay Cemetery.

HARVEY, Guiting Power, Glos                     
PORTER, Gunmakers of Whitechapel
ALLEN - Blockley, BOWLES - Notgrove, BURROWS - Sevenhampton, COOK - Notgrove, DRINKWATER-LUNN - Aston Cross, FARDON - Temple Guiting, FAULKNER - Cheltenham, GADEN, GAYDEN, GAYDON, GRINHAM - Cheltenham, HART - Stow-on-the-Wold, LANE - Staverton, MOABY - Coln St Aldwyns, STAITE - Temple Guiting, TIMBRELL - Winchcombe, TYSOE - Warks & Glos, WHITFORD - Stanway, WINTLE - Forest of Dean, WYNNIATT - Stanway

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Offline Victor Harvey

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Re: George Nicholas CHANNER, VC, 1st Gurkha Rifles
« Reply #2 on: Tuesday 15 September 15 14:49 BST (UK) »

Born at Allabad, India, on 7th January 1843, he was the son of George Girdwood CHANNER, Royal Artillery, and attended Cheltenham College from 1856 until 1859. The College Register gives CHANNER's address as 4 Lansdown Crescent, Cheltenham.

Commissioned in 1859 - the year he left Cheltenham - George CHANNER was present during the North West Frontier of the India Campaign (1863-64), Jadoon Country (1864) and the Lushai Expedition of 1871-72 before proceeding to Malaya in 1875, where another native uprising had broken out. At Perak on 20th December, and serving with the '1st Goorkhas', Captain CHANNER led his men on a surprise capture of Malay strongholds in Bukit Putus, and received a VC.

     "...for having with the greateat gallantry been the first to jump into the enemy's stockade to which
     he had been dispatched with a small party of the 1st Gurkha Light Infantry...by the Officer
     Commanding the Malacca Column to procure intelligence as to its strength, position, etc."

Moving stealthily to the rear of the native compound, CHANNER realised the defenders were cooking a meal and had not posted a lookout, so CHANNER beckoned his men forward before shooting dead the first of the enemy in sight. He then led a successful seizure of the position, prompting his CO to report that if CHANNER had not stormed the site by his "...foresight, coolness and intrepidity" when he did, "...a great loss of (British) life must have occurred", owing to the dense nature of the jungle and the steepness of the hill preventing the presence of a significant number of heavy guns from being brought in to assist the attack.

A veteran also of the Jowaki Expedition (1877-78) and Afghan War (1878-80), CHANNER commanded a Brigade during the Hazara Expedition of 1888, and was Mentioned in Despatches a number of times during his career. Married to Isabella in 1872, he became a CB in April 1889, and retired in 1901 with the rank of General. Plagued by ill-health for the last five years of his life, General CHANNER, VC, CB, died at his home in Westward Ho, Devon, on 13th December 1905, aged 62, and lies buried at nearby Bideford. CHANNER's son Hugh commanded the Guard of Honour when Grand Duke Michael of Russia arrived for the Coronation of Edward VII in August 1902.
HARVEY, Guiting Power, Glos                     
PORTER, Gunmakers of Whitechapel
ALLEN - Blockley, BOWLES - Notgrove, BURROWS - Sevenhampton, COOK - Notgrove, DRINKWATER-LUNN - Aston Cross, FARDON - Temple Guiting, FAULKNER - Cheltenham, GADEN, GAYDEN, GAYDON, GRINHAM - Cheltenham, HART - Stow-on-the-Wold, LANE - Staverton, MOABY - Coln St Aldwyns, STAITE - Temple Guiting, TIMBRELL - Winchcombe, TYSOE - Warks & Glos, WHITFORD - Stanway, WINTLE - Forest of Dean, WYNNIATT - Stanway

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William Henry DICK-CUNNINGHAM, VC, The Gordon Highlanders
« Reply #3 on: Wednesday 16 September 15 11:26 BST (UK) »

Born at Prestonfield, Edinburgh 16th June 1851 son of Robert Keith Alexander DICK-CUNNINGHAM, Bart. (later Sir), had moved to Cheltenham by the early 1860s, as his wife had died and he remarried Sarah HOTHERINGTON at St Luke, Cheltenham, 30th March 1864, and was resident at 'Polefield', Hatherley Road, Cheltenham.

William DICK-CUNNINGHAM joined the Royal Military College at Sandhurst as a Cadet, and became an Ensign in the Gordon Highlanders during 1872, receiving his promotion to Lieutenant the following year. After five years in the East Indies, he went to Afghanistan with the Gordons, and on 13th December 1879 he was at Sherpur Pass when the orders were given to attack the enemy who were positioned on a hill. During the advance, Lieutenant St. John FORBES and Colour Sergeant James ROBERTS both fell under heavy rifle fire, causing a momentary waver amongst the following ranks. Recognising the necessity for momentum, Lt. DICK-CUNNINGHAM rushed forward and rallied his men "through his example and cheering words". He called upon those near to follow him, and subsequently charged alone into the middle of the natives, rendering the attack successful. This earned him a VC (Gazetted 18th October 1881), but it provided another example of interpreting the Warrant, as an anonymous witness to the action commented in a letter which is contained within the former's file: "If Lt...DICK-CUNNINGHAM...is recommended for the Victoria Cross for doing what any officer would have done in like circumstances then the Cross is not worth striving for...". It is worth reiterating however, that DICK-CUNNINGHAM advances "alone" into the enemy when those around him were doubting the sanity of the attack continuing, and likewise in the case of Lt. LYSONS, when WOOD's initial order to deal with the Zulus on Hlobane Mountain was not met with universal acceptance, the prompt response of one individual often inspires the rest to perform greater tasks of endurance.

DICK-CUNNINGHAM served on transport duty during the Afghan War and with Major-General BIDDULPH of the Thull Chotali Force, becoming involved in many skirmishes with the enemy. The Cheltenham based officer was Mentioned in Despatches several times, including once with Earl ROBERTS, VC, in the Kurum Valley operations. Achieving the rank of Captain in 1881, the same year saw him switch to South Africa (known as the 1st Boer War), where he served in the Transvaal and became Adjutant of the Gordon Highlanders. DICK-CUNNINGHAM was severly wounded as he led his men into battle at Elandslaage shortly after arriving in South Africa, but recovered suficiently to re-join his men at the defence of Ladysmith - a town besieged by the Boers. On 6th January 1900, a "chance shot" from an enemy sniper 3,000 yards away caused fatal injuries, and he died from his wounds the following day. The Gloucestershire Echo was quick to report the tragic incident:

     "The deepest regret will be felt in Cheltenham at the death of the valiant leader of the Gordons...
     (He) was part of an ancient Scottish family in Midlothian, of which the present head, Sir W. DICK-
     CUNNINGHAM, a Lieutenant in the Black Watch..."

(In the same edition of the newspaper, an eye-witness at Ladysmith commented: "In some of the trenches from which some of our men were driven, they were outnumbered five to one. It was only the steadfast gallantry of the British soldier that saved the day..."

Lt-Col W.H. DICK-CUNNINGHAM, lies buried at Ladysmith Cemetery in Natal, South Africa. He was the first of the Gloucestershire VCs to lose his life in combat, and his name is also to be found on the South African Memorial in Cheltenham's Promenade. The monument was unveiled in July 1907 by General Sir Ian HAMILTON, KCB, DSO.
HARVEY, Guiting Power, Glos                     
PORTER, Gunmakers of Whitechapel
ALLEN - Blockley, BOWLES - Notgrove, BURROWS - Sevenhampton, COOK - Notgrove, DRINKWATER-LUNN - Aston Cross, FARDON - Temple Guiting, FAULKNER - Cheltenham, GADEN, GAYDEN, GAYDON, GRINHAM - Cheltenham, HART - Stow-on-the-Wold, LANE - Staverton, MOABY - Coln St Aldwyns, STAITE - Temple Guiting, TIMBRELL - Winchcombe, TYSOE - Warks & Glos, WHITFORD - Stanway, WINTLE - Forest of Dean, WYNNIATT - Stanway

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Douglas REYNOLDS, VC, Royal Artillery
« Reply #4 on: Thursday 17 September 15 14:09 BST (UK) »

Although born at 5 Miles Road, Clifton, Bristol on 21st September 1881, close to the College and Zoo, REYNOLDS had stronger links with Cheltenham, and it was at 'Thorncliff' in Lansdown Road where the family moved shortly afterwards. REYNOLD's father, Henry, reached the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Royal Engineers, whilst his mother, Eleanor, was the sister of Reverend (later Canon) GOODWYN, who was vicar at St Stephen in Cheltenham by the early years of the Great War.

Douglas REYNOLDS attended Cheltenham College as a Day Boy from 1892, later involving himself with the military and civil side of the establishment, and in 1898 he attended the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, joining the Royal Artillery the following year. He saw active service during the final months of the Boer War (1902), and then went to India, but by the Summer of 1914 he was preparing to go to Flanders with the first contingent of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). After the Battle of Mons (23rd August) the BEF was forced to retire due to overwhelming numbers of Germans advancing towards them, and so a desperate rearguard was put into effect. Three days later, the first two incidents which was to lead to Captain REYNOLDS receiving a VC took place: "At Le Cateau on 26th August he took up two teams and limbered up two guns under heavy artillery fire, and though the enemy was within 100 yards he got one gun away safely".

On 9th September, two weeks later, at Pysloup, "...reconnoitered at close range, discovered the (enemy) battery which was holding up the advance, and silenced it". Even before the VC had been gazetted (16th November 1914), Captain REYNOLDS was severely wounded by shrapnel, with a piece lodging so close to his heart it was decided not to risk surgery in order to remove it. Returning to duty, the Gloucestershire Echo later commented that "...the bullet did not greatly inconvenience him, although he felt it at times". REYNOLDS received his Victoria Cross from the King at Buckingham Palace on 13th January 1915, and he was also separately decorated with the Croix de Chevalier of the Legion of Honour by the President of the Republic for "...gallantry during the operations between August 21st and 30th". The Echo added that REYNOLDS was particularly pleased his two surviving comrades from the action at Le Cateau - Drivers LUKE and DRAIN - also each gained a VC.

REYNOLDS wed Doris PETERSEN, whose parents had addresses in Leatherhead and London, during March 1915, and the couple's son was born the following January. Doris's brother 2nd Lieutenant William PETERSEN of the 2nd Life Guards, was killed in action at Zillebeke, near Ypres, on 6th November 1914, "...leading his troops most gallantly as we advanced under heavy fire". REYNOLDS's sister was married to Colonel N. TAYLOR, of the 7th Gurkhas, who, as Military Governor of Kut-el-Amara in Mesopotamia (Iraq), came under siege from the Turks at the end of 1915. The garrison was surrendered the following April, only to be re-taken by the British eight months later.

Promoted to Major, REYNOLDS was hospitalised due to an explosion of a gas bomb in December 1915, and contracted septicaemia as a result, passing away at the Duchess of Westminster's Hospital in Le Touquet, France, from the effects of blood poisoning on 23rd February 1916, at the age of 34. He lies buried in the Etaples Military Cemetery "among other heroes", and is commemorated on the family grave at Leckhampton, Cheltenham.

Reporting on the officer's demise under the heading "Death of Cheltenham VC", the Echo added "... the sympathy of the (family's) many old friends in Cheltenham will be extended...". Major REYNOLDS is also remembered on the Roll of Honour at his former College in Cheltenham.
HARVEY, Guiting Power, Glos                     
PORTER, Gunmakers of Whitechapel
ALLEN - Blockley, BOWLES - Notgrove, BURROWS - Sevenhampton, COOK - Notgrove, DRINKWATER-LUNN - Aston Cross, FARDON - Temple Guiting, FAULKNER - Cheltenham, GADEN, GAYDEN, GAYDON, GRINHAM - Cheltenham, HART - Stow-on-the-Wold, LANE - Staverton, MOABY - Coln St Aldwyns, STAITE - Temple Guiting, TIMBRELL - Winchcombe, TYSOE - Warks & Glos, WHITFORD - Stanway, WINTLE - Forest of Dean, WYNNIATT - Stanway

Offline Victor Harvey

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Richard Raymond WILLIS, VC, Lancashire Fusiliers
« Reply #5 on: Friday 18 September 15 12:03 BST (UK) »

A native of Woking, Surrey, he was born 13th October 1876, and went on to attend Harrow before joining the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. Commissioned into the Lancashire Fusiliers in 1897, he was present at the Battle of Omdurman in the Sudan the following year. WILLIS had several postings abroad in the early 1900s, becoming an outstanding sportsman, linguist and marksman. He married Maude Elizabeth TEMPLE in 1907, and the couple had three children.

By the outbreak of the First World War, WILLIS was already a Captain, and in 1915 he was part of the near-disasterous Gallipoli landings on 25th April, when he led 'C' Company of the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers ashore under the most intense fire from Turkish defenders at Cape Helles. As the rowing boats packed with Allied soldiers struggled towards 'W' Beach, casualties were horrendous, but once on dry land, WILLIS repeatedly shouted "Remember Minden"!" (a reference to a previous regimental engagement with the French in 1759), above the noise of the battle, inspiring his men towards their objective "displaying outstanding gallantry and leadership" whilst brandishing his walking stick throughout the chaos. Captain WILLIS was Elected by Ballot to receive a Victoria Cross (Gazetted 24th August 1915), one of the famous 'Six VCs Before Breakfast' of the initial Gallipoli assault. The Soldiers Died in the Great War CD-Rom reveals that a staggering 166 men in the ranks of the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers lost their lives on 25th April alone, and in a biography of WILLIS's life, the Gloucestershire Echo quoted the words of General Sir Ian HAMILTON, in command of the British forces in the Dardenelles, who described the defences at 'W' Beach as "...so strong...that the Turks may well have considered (them) impregnable". Despite this, the Lancashires were not driven back into the sea, and somehow managed to secure the position against overwhelming odds.

A few days later, after issuing some orders in Turkish, WILLIS was responsible for the surrender of a large contingent of the enemy, who obeyed the the British officer's commands thinking that they had come from one of their own. On 4th June, a bullet wound close to his head cut short his stint in Gallipoli, but during his recovery he was able to receive his VC from the King at Buckingham Palace on 21st September 1915. Later posted to the Western Front, WILLIS saw action on the Somme, at Messines and Passchendale, and became an Acting Lieutenant-Colonel in 1918, commanding 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers through several tricky encounters as the war drew to a close. He then spent some time in Palestine as an Education Officer with the RAF, returning to London in the 1930s to work as a lecturer, and when the Second World War broke out - in spite of his advancing years - he re-enlisted as an Army Training Officer at Aldershot. Injured as a civilian during the Blitz, WILLIS took up teaching once more, eventually working at a School in Evesham well into his seventies.

Relocating to Cheltenham in 1958, WILLIS lost his wife two years later, and spent the remainder of his life at the Faithful House Nursing Home in the town's Suffolk Square. Failing health meant he could not make the 50th anniversary of Gallipoli's 'Lancashire Landings' at Bury in April 1965, but those veterans who did attend described Major WILLIS as a "legendary figure" who commanded the greatest respect and admiration from the men who served under him.

Spending the last few weeks of his life in Cheltenham General Hospital, Raymond WILLIS, VC, passed away on 9th February 1966, at the age of 89. He was cremated at Cheltenham, where a plaque dedicated to his bravery on 25th April 1915 - when nearly 70% of his men were killed or wounded during the first thirty minutes of the attack - was erected during the early part of the Millennium, in the presence of the Mayors of both Cheltenham and Bury. The Gloucestershire Echo, who revealed that WILLIS' two sons were in Africa, whilst his daughter was married to a Mr. ROSE, of Cheltenham, described the VC recipient as: "One of the outstanding heroes of the First World War".
HARVEY, Guiting Power, Glos                     
PORTER, Gunmakers of Whitechapel
ALLEN - Blockley, BOWLES - Notgrove, BURROWS - Sevenhampton, COOK - Notgrove, DRINKWATER-LUNN - Aston Cross, FARDON - Temple Guiting, FAULKNER - Cheltenham, GADEN, GAYDEN, GAYDON, GRINHAM - Cheltenham, HART - Stow-on-the-Wold, LANE - Staverton, MOABY - Coln St Aldwyns, STAITE - Temple Guiting, TIMBRELL - Winchcombe, TYSOE - Warks & Glos, WHITFORD - Stanway, WINTLE - Forest of Dean, WYNNIATT - Stanway

Offline km1971

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Re: Tribute to Cheltenham VCs
« Reply #6 on: Saturday 19 September 15 09:08 BST (UK) »
Duncan Gordon BOYES, VC, Royal Navy

Hi Victor

My GGGF was a Royal Marine on HMS Euryalus at Shimonoseki.

Two more VCs were awarded - http://www.euryalus.org.uk/stories-euryalus-vcs.htm .The three VCs were the only medals awarded, as it was considered a 'none medal' action. The US navy also had a ship there Ta' Kiang - a hired steamer.

Ken

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Edward UNWIN, VC, Royal Navy
« Reply #7 on: Saturday 19 September 15 10:05 BST (UK) »

As the infantry struggled ashore at Gallipoli on 25th April, the Royal Navy was desperately trying to assist those disembarking under heavy fire from the Turkish defenders, and another man with residential links to Cheltenham was about to receive a VC. Born at Fawley, Nr Southampton, on 17th March 1864, the son of Herbert and Henrietta, he was educated in Cheltenham. A Merchant Navy officer for many years, he transferred to the Royal Navy during 1895, seeing active service in West Africa and during the Boer War, before retiring as Lieutenant-Commander in 1909. Recalled at the outbreak of the First World War, his home was Charlton Lodge, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, whilst his father was living at Arle Court, Gloucester Road, Cheltenham by 1914.

Edwin UNWIN was given command of Hussar in February 1915, and on 25th April, as a Commander, he was at 'V' Beach when the SS River Clyde - a converted collier vessel acting as a troop carrier - began its task of releasing men from the hull and into boats which would then be rowed to the shore-line. UNWIN had at his disposal a fleet of specially designed motor-lighters, and he and his men spent many hours in the water, exposed to horrendous machine-gun fire, attempting to manoeuvre the craft into position. Cold and exhaustion forced UNWIN back to the SS River Clyde, but against medical advice he returned to action, only seeking treatment after being injured for a third time, and even then he made yet another journey to the beach to rescue three wounded men.

Five Victoria Crosses were all Gazetted on 16th August 1915, by which time UNWIN had also taken part in the second major landings of the campaign, at the relatively more peaceful Sulva Bay further up the coast. (When trying to push inland, however, heavy casualties were again inflicted by the Turks, and the 7th Glosters - raised in Bristol at the outbreak of war - was almost annihilated). During the evacuation of the Gallipoli peninsular a few months later, UNWIN was reportedly the last man to leave Sulva, but not before he had rescued a soldier who had fallen overboard during the withdrawal. Commander UNWIN received his VC from the King at Buckingham Palace on 15th January 1916, and in consideration of his magnificent conduct throughout the costly Dardenelles operation, the naval officer was promoted to Captain. A host of other honours came his way, including a CB, CMG, French Legion of Honour, and the Order of the Nile (Egypt).

UNWIN retired from the Navy in 1920 and later moved to Surrey, where he collapsed and died on 19th April 1950, at the age of 86. By a strange coincidence, he was buried at St Luke's Churchyard, Grayshott, on 25th April - the 35th anniversary of the initial Gallipoli landings.
HARVEY, Guiting Power, Glos                     
PORTER, Gunmakers of Whitechapel
ALLEN - Blockley, BOWLES - Notgrove, BURROWS - Sevenhampton, COOK - Notgrove, DRINKWATER-LUNN - Aston Cross, FARDON - Temple Guiting, FAULKNER - Cheltenham, GADEN, GAYDEN, GAYDON, GRINHAM - Cheltenham, HART - Stow-on-the-Wold, LANE - Staverton, MOABY - Coln St Aldwyns, STAITE - Temple Guiting, TIMBRELL - Winchcombe, TYSOE - Warks & Glos, WHITFORD - Stanway, WINTLE - Forest of Dean, WYNNIATT - Stanway

Offline Victor Harvey

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Arthur Forbes Gordon KILBY, VC, South Saffordshire Regiment
« Reply #8 on: Sunday 20 September 15 10:37 BST (UK) »

Born at 'East Hayes' on Cheltenham's Pittville Circus Road, 3rd February 1885, KILBY was the son of Sandford and Alice (nee Scott). His father was involved in Customs and was formerly in the Bengal Police. Arthur KILBY attended Bilton Grange School in Rugby, Winchester College and then Sandhurst, joining the South Staffs in 1905. A Captain by 1910, he was another who went abroad with the first elements of the BEF in August 1914, and the following month he was reported to be "...separated (from his unit), wounded and missing between 25/26 September". The officer's father, who was living in Leamington Spa by this time, received a letter nearly a month later, written by Captain KILBY himself, describing how he had been "shot through the right arm and lung". Sandford KILBY was concerned that the official news pertaining to the unknown whereabouts of his son had reached him after the latter had informed him he was being cared for in a British Military Hospital. The Military Secretary wrote back to Mr. KILBY senior, informing him that "...the difficulty of reporting casualties from the Front is sometimes very great". Sandford KILBY also implored the authorities not to evacuate his son back to England as he was "...a very bad sailor...and sea-sickness might be very bad for him", bearing in mind the injury to his lung.

It was later revealed that Captain KILBY had also been wounded by an explosion on 26th August 1914 (three days on from the Battle of Mons), and after a spell in hospital, he had rejoined his battalion, whereupon he soon penetrated the German lines on his own bringing back valuable information. In mid-November 1914, severe fighting around Ypres saw some sections of the French army retreating, and the gaps were filled by men of the South Staffs, supervised by Captains KILBY and JOHNSON, both of whom were injured. KILBY received a Military Cross, but the combination of his wounds required him to convalesce in England, and he did not return to Flanders until the following May. Throughout August and into September KILBY carried out "...consistent good work, making some useful reconnaissances, imbuing all ranks with keenness by his example, reconnoitring German strong-points at close quarters along a narrow canal path. Major MORGAN commented later: "His...absolute fearlessness animated his whole Company with a spirit which will never be forgotten".

On 25th September 1915, a major British offensive began at Loos, and KILBY volunteered to lead the attack on a strongly-defended enemy redoubt, charging along the canal path with his men even though he was wounded at the outset. The murderous machine-gun fire was unrelenting, and KILBY fell fatally injured, yet he still urged his men onwards, firing at the Germans with his rifle as they hurled bombs at the attackers. The precise time or even date of his death is not certain, however Lance Corporal F. HALL, DCM, alluded to from an English hospital in October 1915:

     "Informant (HALL) states that he last saw Captain KILBY at Quincy (Cuinchy) near Givenchy (on) 
     25th September with a shattered foot and wounded hand. Captain KILBY was lying on the canal side
     between our lines and the enemy's shouting to his men to go forward, unable to go forward himself
     he still kept encouraging his men...Captain KILBY was sinking very fast from the loss of blood when
     Informant last saw him. It was impossible to render first-aid to anyone as the towing path on the
     Canal side was swept with shell and machine-gun fire.

Another eye-witness stated he saw Captain KILBY "...dragging himself towards our line (with) one foot blown off". A short while later, the former looked again and the officer "seemed to be dead", lying in a hollow with "a film of gas just above it". Before the advance, KILBY's Brigadier had implored him to wait until half the Company had gone forward, realising the Captain's knowledge of the area was vital, but after problems with gas, the senior officer believed KILBY had deliberately led from the front to maintain impetus, and most probably knew he would be killed in the attempt.

After dark, search parties were sent out to look for the wounded, but Captain KILBY could not be found, and for official purposes he was posted as "wounded and missing, possible prisoner", although survivors were convinced that their leader could not have survived as he had been "hit several times". In October 1915, several white crosses were allegedly discovered, placed by the Germans, and bearing the name of, amongst others, Captain KILBY. This has never been verified, although it is said that the German battalion commander defending the position on 25th September later passed a message to the British which read: "The KILBY family may think of their son with pride, as we remember him with respect". Sandford KILBY wrote another letter to the War Office during February 1916, which informed them:

     "I propose to publicly announce the fact that my son was killed in action on 25th September 1915...
     He always said that if it was to be his fate to be killed in action he hoped he would die leading an
     attack. He now lies with his gallant comrades around him, thus ending a noble and glorious career".

HARVEY, Guiting Power, Glos                     
PORTER, Gunmakers of Whitechapel
ALLEN - Blockley, BOWLES - Notgrove, BURROWS - Sevenhampton, COOK - Notgrove, DRINKWATER-LUNN - Aston Cross, FARDON - Temple Guiting, FAULKNER - Cheltenham, GADEN, GAYDEN, GAYDON, GRINHAM - Cheltenham, HART - Stow-on-the-Wold, LANE - Staverton, MOABY - Coln St Aldwyns, STAITE - Temple Guiting, TIMBRELL - Winchcombe, TYSOE - Warks & Glos, WHITFORD - Stanway, WINTLE - Forest of Dean, WYNNIATT - Stanway