Author Topic: Tribute to Cheltenham VCs  (Read 3774 times)

Offline Victor Harvey

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Arthur Forbes Gordon KILBY, VC, South Saffordshire Regiment, continued
« Reply #9 on: Sunday 20 September 15 10:53 BST (UK) »

Commenting on the alleged find of the German memorial placed in honour of the British dead, Mr KILBY added he believed the crosses were erected "...from purely chivalrous motives in generous recognition...of the 'superb heroism' of that attack, and must be accepted as conclusive evidence of the fate of officers and men whose names appear on them...". Captain KILBY was posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross (Gazetted 30th March 1915), and his name was originally engraved on the Loos Memorial to the Missing. He is also remembered on the War Memorial at Leamington Spa (his father's place of residence), and in addition there is a marble tablet in York Minster, a building the officer had visited in the past whilst pursuing his passion for architecture.

KILBY's body was eventually found and identified on 19th February 1929, and buried at the Arras Road Cemetery. Before receiving notification that Captain KILBY had been honoured with a VC, his father concluded: "We at any rate feel we have every reason to be proud of our only son who has died a hero for his King and Country". Referring to the Cheltenham-born VC, who was aged 30 when he died, CQMS ALLEN said simply: "He was worshipped by the men of his Company".
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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Anketell Moutray READ, VC, 1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment
« Reply #10 on: Monday 21 September 15 13:52 BST (UK) »

Another individual decorated for gallantry at Loos, READ was born at 8.50 pm on 27th October 1884 at 14 'Beaumont', Leckhampton, Cheltenham, the son of John Moutray READ - a Major (later Colonel) in the 4th Cheshires and Edith (nee JOHNSON). He was educated at Glyngarth, a Prep School (now closed) in Douro Road, off Lansdown Road, Cheltenham and then Sandhurst College before receiving a commission in the Gloucestershire Regiment during 1903. Four years later he was in the Indian Army (where he became regimental heavyweight boxing champion many times), the Northamptonshire Regiment in 1911, and he joined the fledgling Royal Flying Corps the following year.

He went to France on 11th August 1914, and was later attached to the 9th Lancers. On the 24th, one of his comrades - Captain Francis GRENFELL - received a VC after taking part in a mounted charge against a large body of German infantry, and despite being wounded he assisted in extracting several guns under heavy fire. READ himself was severely injured during the Battle of the Ainse in September, and later rejoined the Northamptons when he had recovered sufficiently. A portion of his VC citation (Gazetted 18th November 1915) indicates he "showed conspicuous bravery during operations" at the end of August 1915, as well as being noted for bringing in a mortally wounded comrade under a heavy barrage. On 25th September, READ was at Loos, and the War Diary for the 1st Northants reveals:

     "...at 5.50 am, the gas is turned on and enemy's rear position heavily shelled. There was
     unfortunately very little wind and moreover owing to the fact that our position was in a salient, the
     gas hung in our trenches and 'gassed' nearly two companies of the 60th (Kings Royal Rifle Corps).
     (The attack) was unable to gain a footing owing to the gas hanging in the valley between the two
     lines".

The first wave suffered heavy casualties, but the second recorded "success on both flanks, enemy in centre surrendered. By evening (we) had advanced two miles". Amongst the casualties is the name of Captain A. Moutray READ, and on 29th September, the War Diary gives more detail about the initial stages of the Loos advance:

     "Captain READ had very gallantly gone out to rally a party of 60 men of different units who were
     returning disorganised owing to the gas drifting back - the men were lead forward by him and took
     up position south of Lone Tree; where they maintained themselves for some hours. Captain READ
     was mortally wounded during this time".

His link with Bampton in Devon (where there is a plaque to his memory in the Parish Church) came about via his mother, who lived at nearby Castle Grove. Aged 30 (although his his grave shows '31') Captain READ, VC, lies buried at the Dud Corner Cemetery at Loos, and is also remembered on the Cheltenham War Memorial. His death was reported in the Gloucestershire Echo, describing him as the youngest son of the late Colonel J. Moutray READ, of Cheltenham. Referring to READ junior's illustrious boxing career, which also saw him gain the Army and Navy heavyweight championships three times in the UK, one of the judges remarked: "READ wins, because he never accepts defeat, and never knows when he is beaten". A similar sentiment is engraved upon his headstone.
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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James FORBES-ROBERTSON, VC, 1st Battalion, Border Regiment
« Reply #11 on: Tuesday 22 September 15 12:43 BST (UK) »

James was born in the Halifax area of Yorkshire on 7th July 1884, the son of Farquhar. His brother, Kenneth, was born two years earlier at Slead Hall, Brighouse, Yorkshire, and lost his life in action on 7th November 1914 at Ploegsteert Wood on the French/Belgian border. The brothers' paternal grandfather, William, hailed from Aberdeen.

Both Kenneth and James FORBES-ROBERTSON were educated at Cheltenham College (the latter from 1897 until 1902) following their parents' move to the town around 1890. The family first lived at Langton Lodge, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham before moving to 2 Keynsham Bank, off London Road, Cheltenham. James was commissioned into the Border Regiment during 1904, gaining promotion to Lieutenant two years later, and by the outbreak of war he was a Temporary Captain (appointed Staff Captain on 28th November 1914), by which time his brother, Kenneth - a Captain in the Seaforth Highlanders - was dead. Farquhar FORBES-ROBERTSON had passed away during 1912, and lies buried in Cheltenham Cemetery, where his fallen son is also commemorated on the headstone.

T/Major James FORBES-ROBERTSON was awarded a Military Cross during 1916, receiving his medal in June 1917 - the same month the London Gazette revealed a DSO was also coming his way. The citation reads:

     "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in charge of his battalion during...an attack.
     He collected all the men he could find, and, taking up a position on the outskirts of the village,
     brought the hostile advance to an end by his fire. He undoubtedly saved a very critical situation by
     his promptness, bravery and example".

A Bar to his DSO was Gazetted on 23rd March 1918: "He led his battalion with great dash and determination in a successful attack. Later, during continuous enemy attacks, though he was wounded in the eye and unable to see, he was led about by an orderly among his men in the front line, encouraging them and inspiring them by his magnificent example of courage and determination". Over the period 11/12th April 1918, the British lines were under the most severe pressure, and with little or no immediate reserves available to bolster the already beleaguered defences. Field Marshall Sir Douglas HAIG, Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces on the Western Front, issued his famous Order of the Day: "There is no other course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man. There must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause each one of us must fight to the end". During the Battle of Estaires in France, Acting Lt-Col (James) FORBES-ROBERTSON carried out this directive almost to the letter, and received a Victoria Cross in the process:

     "For most conspicuous bravery whilst commanding his battalion through heavy fighting. Through his
     quick judgement, resource and untiring energy and magnificent example, (he) on four separate
     occasions saved the line from breaking, and averted a situation which might have had the most
     serious and far-reaching results. On the first occasion, when troops in front were falling back, he
     made a rapid reconnaissance on horse back in full view of the enemy, and under heavy machine gun
     fire and close range shell fire. He then organised and, still mounted, led a counter attack, which was
     completely successful in re-establishing our line. When his horse was shot under him he continued
     on foot. Later on the same day, when the line of troops to the left of his line were giving way, he
     went to that flank and checked and steadied the line inspiring confidence by his splendid coolness and
     disregard of personal danger. His horse was wounded three times and he was thrown five times".

     "The following day when the troops on both flanks were forced to retire, he formed a post at
     Battalion Headquarters, and with his Battalion still held his ground, thereby covering the retreat of
     troops on his flanks. Under the heaviest fire this gallant officer fearlessly exposed himself (to danger)
     when collecting parties, organising and encouraging. On a subsequent occasion, when troops
     were retiring on his left, and the condition of things on his right was obscure, he again saved the
     situation by his magnificent example and cool judgement. Losing a second horse, he continued alone
     on foot until he had established a line to which his own troops could withdraw and so conform to
     the general situation".
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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James FORBES-ROBERTSON, VC, 1st Battalion, Border Regiment, continued
« Reply #12 on: Tuesday 22 September 15 13:08 BST (UK) »

In the 1st Border Regiment's War Diary, the first entry for 12th April reads: "7.00 am Enemy attacking along the whole line...". At 6.00 pm it was reported: "The line...was held by remnants of the Battalion".
FORBES-ROBERTSON's Victoria Cross was Gazetted on 22nd May 1918. After the war he was appointed to the 2nd Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders by special selection, and in 1932 became the Commanding Officer of the 152nd (Seaforth and Camerons) Infantry Brigade, Territorial Army.

Brigadier-General James FORBES-ROBERTSON, VC, DSO & Bar, MC passed away in Bourton-on-the-Water, Glos on 5th August 1955, aged 71. His funeral was held at St Lawrence in the town, with Rev. J. K. NETTLEFOLD officiating, and the Gloucestershire Echo revealed the officer's Victoria Cross and other decorations were carried on his coffin, which was draped in the Union Flag. Interment followed at Cheltenham Borough Cemetery, where the Last Post and Long Reveille were sounded by Drummer WAKEFIELD, from the Carlisle Depot of the Border Regiment, who wore a uniform of the 1910 period. The VC's widow, Hilda, and the couple's three children were the chief mourners, accompanied by, amongst others, representatives of the officer's former regiments.. FORBES-ROBERTSON's mother reached the grand age of 96, and died at 2 Keynsham Bank - the family's home for over fifty years - in December 1946. She now lies buried with her husband.
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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Daniel Marcus William BEAK, Drake Battalion, Royal Navy Division
« Reply #13 on: Wednesday 23 September 15 13:08 BST (UK) »

Described in his obituary in The Times as an "...almost legendary figure...of the First World War", his full set of medals spanning two global conflicts was sold to a private collector at auction for 155,000 during 2003. BEAK was born in Southampton, the son of Mr. and Mrs. W.H. BEAK on 27th July 1891, and for two years prior to the outbreak of the Great War he lived at Cambray in Cheltenham, employed in charge of the nearby YMCA. Enlisting in the town, he joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve on 26th January 1915, soon becoming a Petty Officer and then Sub Lieutenant. BEAK saw service in France and Gallipoli, witnessing the evacuation of the latter, and returned to France as an infantry officer shortly afterwards. Within the space of seven months, the announcement of his Military Cross and Bar were made public:

     "Conspicuous gallantry in action. He led his men in the attack with great courage and initiative,
     and materially assisted in the capture of the enemy line. He set a fine example throughout".

     "For conspicuous gallantry during operations, when he continually dashed forward, under heavy fire,
     to reorganise the men, and led them on with great bravery through the enemy barrage and machine
     gun fire".

BEAK was decorated with his MC and Bar on 23rd May and 28th November 1917 respectively. The following July, a DSO was bestowed upon his:

     "Conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During a night attack by the enemy...the right flank
     of his division was left in a dangerous position. He arranged for a flank to be formed in that direction,
     and subsequently covered the retirement of two brigades with a composite rearguard which he
     organised and commanded. His initiative and presence of mind greatly assisted in extricating these
     brigades from a difficult situation. Throughout, the skillful handling of his battalion was particularly
     noticeable".

Remaining on the Western Front, Temporary Commander BEAK was at Logeast Wood in France over the time-span of late August into September 1918, when he was awarded a VC:

     "...for most conspicuous bravery, courageous leadership and devotion to duty during a prolonged
     period of operations. He led his men in an attack, and despite heavy machine gun fire, four enemy
     positions were captured. His skillful and fearless leadership resulted in the complete success of the
     operation and enabled other battalions to reach their objectives. Four days later, although dazed by
     a shell fragment...he rushed forward, accompanied by only one runner, and succeeded in breaking
     up a nest of machine guns, personally bringing back nine or ten prisoners. His fearless example
     instilled courage and confidence in his men, who then quickly resumed the advance under his
     leadership, and his initiative, coupled with the confidence with which he inspired all ranks, not only
     enabled his men and a neighbouring unit to advance, but contributed materially to the success of the
     Naval Division in these operations".

Gazetted just days after the Armistice, BEAK received his Victoria Cross from the King early in the next year. The Freedom of the County Borough of Southampton was conferred upon him shortly afterwards, but he still maintained links with Cheltenham, and was photographed at the town's railway station during 1919, by which time he had transferred to the Royal Scots Fusiliers. Switching to the Kings Regiment in 1932, when Major BEAK was promoted to Brigadier in 1940 and commanded the 1st Battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment, seeing active service in France. An Acting Major-General by 1941, he was the General Officer Commanding at Malta the following year, finishing his army career with no fewer than twelve (gallantry and campaign) medals.

Major-General D.M.W. BEAK, VC, DSO, MC and Bar, died on 3rd May 1967, at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Swindon, following a long illness. The 75 year old was buried at Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey, one of fourteen VC holders interred here, although BEAK's final resting place is not marked by any memorial or headstone.
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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John COLLINS, VC, Royal Welch Fusiliers
« Reply #14 on: Thursday 24 September 15 11:17 BST (UK) »

Born in Somerset, COLLINS received a VC in Palestine on 31st October 1917:

     "When his battalion was forced to lie in the open under heavy shell and machine-gun fire, he went out
     alone to bring back many wounded in the British lines. He then led the final assault on Wadi Saba with
     great skill, despite heavy fire at close range and uncut wire, killing fifteen of the enemy. With a Lewis
     gun section he effectively covered the re-organisation and consolidation of men under heavy fire".

Also awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal during the Great War, Sergeant COLLINS - enlisted towards the end of the 1890s - spent time at Leckhamption Hospital, near Cheltenham, as the conflict drew to a close. Leckhampton Court, one of the oldest medieval houses in Gloucestershire, was used as a Red Cross Hospital throughout the First World War, and is now a Sue Ryder Home caring for cancer sufferers. Just down the road is a Leonard Cheshire Home for the Disabled. Sue Ryder, who worked for the Special Operations Executive in the Second World War, married Group Captain Leonard CHESHIRE, VC, in 1959. From 1940 until 1944, CHESHIRE completed a total of 100 missions for Bomber Command, enduring untold dangers - whilst displaying "...the courage and determination of an exceptional leader". The homes and hospices he and his wife later set up are now nationwide.

Sergeant John COLLINS, VC, survived the 1914-18 war and died in Wales during 1951, aged 70.
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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John Rouse Merriot CHARD, VC, Corps of Royal Engineers
« Reply #15 on: Friday 25 September 15 12:47 BST (UK) »

Born in Plymouth, during 1847, part of his education - according to Sir O'Moore CREAGH's book 'The VC and DSO' - was spent in Cheltenham, but this detail does not appear in other VC sources. (CHARD's death was reported in a Cheltenham newspaper, yet the information regarding him being educated in the town - which had it been widely known would have been expected to appear in print as a source of interest to the readers - is not included). It is revealed in some publications that the young CHARD received private tuition before joining the RE, although no locations are given. His service record gives no indication either of this period.

At Rorke's Drift over the period January 22nd/23rd 1879, CHARD and Lieutenant BROMHEAD were the two senior officers, who organised the famous defence of the outpost, holding back the might of the Zulu army. Queen Victoria later insisted that the names of the two men - whose VCs were Gazetted on 2nd May 1879 - along with those of Lieutenants COGHILL and MELVILL (killed at Isandlwana immediately prior to Rorke's Drift), should be inscribed on the Regimental Colour of the 24th Foot. (This is the same Colour which the latter duo attempted to save when the situation at Isandlwana became hopeless. The famous symbol now rests at Brecon Cathedral - the depot of the 24th Foot.

CHARD later reached the rank of Colonel. He died in 1897, aged 49, and lies buried at Hatch Beauchamp in Somerset. Amongst the family mourners at his funeral were his brother-in-law and sister, Captain and Mrs HEYCOCK from Cheltenham**. Colonel ROGERS commanding 1st Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment VRE, and Major CREGAN, also of Cheltenham, attended in uniform, whilst Queen Victoria sent a personal wreath. Colonel BELL, RE, who was awarded a VC during the Ashanti Wars in West Africa (as was Lord GIFFORD of Ampney Park near Cirencester, Glos) was another senior officer in attendance.

(** In Kelly's Directory for Gloucestershire dated the same year, Charles HEYCOCK is listed as living at Southcourt House, Leckhampton Road, Cheltenham, whilst Major CREGAN - Adjutant of the Gloucestershire RE Volunteers - resided at Coxhorne House, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham. The HQ of his Regiment was in Swindon Road, Cheltenham).

CHARD's nephew, Captain C.J.C. BARRETT, was killed in action during November 1914.
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