Category: Belgium

William Kenny VC

William Kenny (24/08/1880 – 10/01/1936) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery on 23 October 1914 near Ypres, Belgium.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 29074, Page: 1699 reads: 

“6535 Drummer William Kenny, 2nd Battalion, The Gordon Highlanders.
For conspicuous bravery on 23rd October, near Ypres, in rescuing wounded men on five occasions under very heavy fire in the most fearless manner, and for twice previously saving machine guns by carrying them out of action.
On numerous occasions Drummer Kenny conveyed urgent messages under very dangerous circumstances over fire-swept ground”

He died at Charing Cross Hospital, London on 10th January 1936. and was buried in the Corps of Commissionaires Section of Brookwood Cemetery.

DRW © 2018. Created 10/08/2018. Image courtesy of Mark Green

Updated: 26/08/2018 — 19:28

Merchant Navy Memorials, Liverpool

The Merchant Navy Memorials in Liverpool are situated on the waterfront facing the Mersey and the Birkenhead side of the river bank.  The city played an important role in the Battle of the Atlantic as Western Approaches Command was based in the city, and many of the men and ships that sailed in the convoys came from this port.

A few metres further is a raised block with a number of relevant dedications. The two memorials are between Google Earth co-ordinates: 53.403829°  -2.996822°

Of particular relevance was this plaque that does not really make up for the lack of recognition of men and women from so many other countries that lost their lives in the Merchant Navy during both wars.

There was also an Arandora Star Plaque which served as a reminder that all ships were in danger of being sunk, whether combatant or non-combatant.

Norwegians, Poles and Belgians are also commemorated on this block.

Unfortunately these plaques are mounted on what appears to be some sort of housing for some unidentified machinery/access chamber and really do not connect too well with the Merchant Navy Memorial close by. I would have thought that a unified MN memorial would have meant much more instead of having these two distinct groupings that appear as an afterthought. 

The Maritime Museum also had a very good Merchant Navy exhibition on while I was visiting. 

A few steps away is the Liverpool Naval War Memorial which I will cover separately.

DRW © 2018. Created 05/06/2018

Updated: 17/07/2018 — 06:11

Arthur Martin-Leake VC*

Arthur Martin-Leake (04/04/1874 – 22/06/1953) is one of three men who were awarded the Victoria Cross twice. 

While attached to the 5th Field Ambulance during the Second Boer War on 8 February 1902,  he was awarded his first VC for his actions at Vlakfontein,

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Issue: 27433, Page: 3176, reads:

“South African Constabulary, Surgeon-Captain A. Martin-Leake.

During the action at Vlakfonteiu, on the 8th February, 1902, Surgeon-Captain Martin-Leake went up to a wounded man, and attended to him under a heavy fire from about 40 Boers at 100 yards range. He then went to the assistance of a wounded Officer, and, whilst trying to place him in a comfortable position, was shot three times, but would not give in till he rolled over thoroughly exhausted. All the eight men at this point were wounded, and while they were lying on the Veldt, Surgeon-Captain Martin-Leake refused water till every one else had been served. “

He returned to service as a lieutenant with the 5th Field Ambulance when the First World War broke out.

He was awarded his second Victoria Cross during the period 29 October to 8 November 1914 near Zonnebeke, Belgium, whilst serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 29074, Page: 1700 reads: 

“Lieutenant Arthur Martin Leake, Royal Army Medical Corps, who was awarded the Victoria Cross on 13th May, 1902, is granted, a Clasp for conspicuous bravery in the present, campaign: — For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty throughout the campaign, especially during the period 29th October to 8th November 1914, near Zonnebeke, in rescuing, whilst exposed to constant fire, a large number of the wounded who were lying close to the enemy’s trenches.”

He retired from the army after the war and resumed his employment in India until he retired to England in 1937.  He died, aged 79, at High Cross, Hertfordshire and was buried in St John’s Church, High Cross. 

Commemoration plaque at the National Memorial Arboretum

There is a Memorial to Arthur Martin-Leake VC  and Cmdnt Gert Martinus Claassen at the farm Syferfontein. 

The Image of the Syferfontein monuments by user “Valhotel”, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Martin-Leake.  created 11/09/2013, (CC BY-SA 4.0)  

Cropped Image of the Syferfontein image by user “Valhotel”, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Martin-Leake.  created 11/09/2013, (CC BY-SA 4.0) 

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 07/06/2017. Taddy cigarette by Card Promotions, © 1997, first issued 1902. Gallaher cigarette card by Card Promotions © 2001, first issued 1915. 

Updated: 12/01/2018 — 07:19

William Hackett VC

William Hackett (11/06/1873 – 27/06/1916) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 22 June/23 June 1916 at Shaftesbury Avenue Mine, near Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée, France.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 29695, Page: 7744, reads:

“No. 136414 Sppr. William Hackett, late Royal Engineers.

For most conspicuous bravery when entombed with four others in a gallery owing to the explosion of an enemy mine.

After working for 20 hours a hole was made through fallen earth and broken timber, and the outside party was met. Sapper Hackett helped three of the men through the hole and could easily have followed, but refused to leave the fourth, who had been seriously injured, saying ” I am a tunneller, I must look after the others first.”

Meantime the hole was getting smaller, yet he still refused to leave his injured comrade. Finally the gallery collapsed, and though the rescue party worked desperately for four days the attempt to reach the two men failed.

Sapper Hackett, well knowing the nature of sliding earth, the chances against him, deliberately gave his life for his comrade.”

His body was not recovered and he is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing. in Belgium, Panel 1. 

 

Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing. Image courtesy of Ralph McLean and the South African War Graves Project.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 01/05/2017. Image courtesy of Mark Green. Gallaher cigarette card by Card Promotions © 2003, first issued 1916.

Updated: 12/01/2018 — 07:13

Thomas Tannatt Pryce VC, MC*

Thomas Tannatt Pryce (17/01/1886 – 13/04/1918) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions On 11 April 1918 at Vieux-Berquin, France while an acting captain in the 4th Battalion, Grenadier Guards.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 30697, Page: 6057,  reads:

“Lt. (A./Capt.) Thomas Tannatt Pryce, M.C., G. Gds. For most conspicuous bravery, devotion to duty, and self-sacrifice when in command of a  flank on the left of the Grenadier Guards. Having been ordered to attack a -village, he personally led forward two platoons, working from house to house, killing some thirty of the enemy, seven of whom he killed himself.

The next day he was occupying a position with some thirty to forty men, the remainder of his company having become casualties. As early as 8.15 a.m. his left flank was surrounded and the enemy was enfilading him. He was attacked no less than four times during the day, and each time beat off the hostile attack, killing many of the enemy.

Meanwhile, the enemy brought up three field guns to within 300 yards of his line, and were firing over open sights and knocking his trench in. At 6.15 p.m. the enemy had worked to within sixty yards of his trench. He then called on his men, telling them to cheer and charge the enemy and fight to the last. Led by Captain Pryce, they left their trench and drove back the enemy, with the bayonet, some 100 yards. Half an hour later the enemy had again approached in stronger force. By this time Captain Pryce had only 17 men left, and every round of his ammunition had been fired. Determined that there should be no surrender, he once again led his men forward in a bayonet charge, and was last seen engaged in a fierce hand-to-hand struggle with overwhelming numbers of the enemy.

With some forty men he had held back at least one enemy battalion for over ten hours. His company undoubtedly stopped the advance through the British line, and thus had great influence on the battle.” 

He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing. in Belgium, Panel 1.

Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing. Image courtesy of Ralph McLean and the South African War Graves Project.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 01/05/2017. Image courtesy of Mark Green.

Updated: 12/01/2018 — 07:10

James MacKenzie VC

James MacKenzie (02/04/1889 – 19/12/1914) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on the 19th of  December 1914 at Rouges Blancs, France.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 29074, Page: 1700 reads:

“8185 Private James Mackenzie, late 2nd Battalion, Scots Guards.

For conspicuous bravery at Rouges’ Blancs on the 19th December, in rescuing a severely wounded man from in front of the German trenches, under a very heavy fire and after a stretcher-bearer party had been compelled to abandon the attempt. Private Mackenzie was subsequently killed on that day whilst in the performance of a similar act of gallant conduct.”

He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing. in Belgium, Panel 1.

Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing. Image courtesy of Ralph McLean and the South African War Graves Project.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 01/05/2017. Image courtesy of Mark Green. Gallaher cigarette card reproduction by Card Promotions © 2003, first issued 1915.

Updated: 12/01/2018 — 07:10

Edward Warner VC

Edward Warner (18/11/1883 – 02/05/1915) was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry during the defence of Hill 60, Ypres on 1 May 1915.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Issue: 29210, Page: 6270, reads:

No. 7602 Private Edward Warner, 1st Battalion, The Bedfordshire Regiment.

For most conspicuous bravery near ” Hill 60 ” on 1st May, 1915.

After Trench 46 had been vacated by our troops, consequent on a gas attack, Private Warner entered it single-handed in order to prevent the enemy taking possession.

Reinforcements were sent to Private Warner, but could not reach him owing to the gas. He then came back and brought up more men, by which time he was completely exhausted, but the trench was held until the enemy’s attack ceased.

This very gallant soldier died shortly afterwards from the effects of gas poisoning.”

He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, panel 31-33

 

Menin Gate. Image courtesy of Ralph McLean and the South African War Graves Project

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 30/04/2017. Inscription image courtesy of Mark Green.  Cigarette card by Card Promotions © 2001, first issued 1915

Updated: 12/01/2018 — 07:11

Frederick William Hall VC

Frederick William Hall (08/02/1885 – 24/04/1915), was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on the 24th of April 1915, during the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 29202, Page: 6115, reads:

“No. 1539 Colour-Serjeant Frederick William Hall, 8th Canadian Battalion.

On 24th April, 1915, in the neighbourhood of Ypres, when a wounded man who was lying some 15 yards from the trench called for help, Company Serjeant-Major Hall endeavoured to reach him in the face of a very heavy enfilade fire which was being poured in by the enemy. The first attempt failed, and a Non-commissioned Officer and private soldier who were attempting to give assistance were both wounded. Company Serjeant-Major Hall then made a second most gallant attempt, and was in the act of lifting up the wounded man to bring him in when he fell mortally wounded in the head.”

He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, panel 24-30.

 

Menin Gate. Image courtesy of Ralph McLean and the South African War Graves Project

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 30/04/2017. Inscription image courtesy of Mark Green. 

Updated: 12/01/2018 — 07:11

Charles Fitzclarence VC

Charles Fitzclarence (08/05/1865 – 02/11/1914) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Anglo Boer War while serving in The Royal Fusiliers.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of 6 July 1900, Issue: 27208, Page: 4196, reads:

“The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), Captain Charles FitzCIarence.

On the 14th October, 1899, Captain FitzCIarence went with his squadron of the Protectorate Regiment, consisting of only partially trained men, who had never been in action, to the assistance of an armoured train which had gone out from Mafeking. The enemy were in greatly superior numbers, and the squadron was for a time surrounded, and it looked as if nothing could save them from being shot down. Captain FitzCIarence, however, by his personal coolness and courage inspired the greatest confidence in his men, and, by his bold and efficient handling of them, not only succeeded in relieving the armoured train, but inflicted a heavy defeat on the Boers, who lost 50 killed and a large number wounded, his own losses being 2 killed and 15 wounded. The moral effect of this blow had a very important bearing on subsequent encounters with the Boers.

On the 27th October, 1899, Captain FitzCIarence led his squadron from Mafeking across the open, and made a night attack with the bayonet on one of the enemy’s trenches. A hand-to-hand fight took place in the trench, while a heavy fire was concentrated on it from the rear. The enemy was driven out with heavy loss. Captain’ FitzCIarence was the first man into the position and accounted for four of the enemy with his sword. The British lost & killed and 9 wounded. Captain. FitzCIarence was himself: slightly wounded. With reference to these two actions, Major. General Baden-Powell states that had this Officer not shown an extraordinary spirit and fearlessness the attacks would have been failures, and we should have suffered heavy loss both in men and prestige. On the 26th December, 1899, during the action at Game Tree, near Mafeking, Captain FitzCIarence again distinguished himself by his coolness and courage and was again wounded (severely through both legs).” 

He was killed in action, aged 49, at Polygon Wood, Zonnebeke, Belgium, on 12 November 1914 whilst commanding the 1st Guards Brigade. He has no known grave and is Commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, Panel 3.

Menin Gate. Image courtesy of Ralph McLean and the South African War Graves Project

 © DRW 2017-2018. Created 30/04/2017. Inscription image courtesy of Mark Green. Taddy & Co cigarette card by Card Promotions, ©1997, first issued 1902. 

Updated: 12/01/2018 — 07:12

Frederick Fisher VC.

Frederick Fisher VC (03/08/1894 – 23/04/1915) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions  during the Second Battle of Ypres, on 22 April 1915 near St Julien, Belgium.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 29202, Page: 6115, reads:

“No. 24066 Lance-Corporal Frederick Fisher, 13th Canadian Battalion.

On 23rd April, 1915, in the neighbourhood of St. Julien, he went forward with the machine gun, of which he was in charge, under heavy fire, and most gallantly assisted in covering the retreat of a battery, losing four men of his gun team.

Later, after obtaining four more men, he went forward again to the firing line and was himself killed while bringing his machine gun into action under very heavy fire, in order to cover the advance of supports.”

He was subsequently killed on April 23 while yet again bringing his machine-gun into action under very heavy fire. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres. Panel 24/26/28/30 

Menin Gate. Image courtesy of Ralph McLean and the South African War Graves Project

 © DRW 2017-2018. Created 30/04/2017. Inscription image courtesy of Mark Green. 

Updated: 12/01/2018 — 07:12
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