Reverend Bernard William Vann VC, MC. (09/07/1887 – 03/10/1918), was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 29 September 1918 at Bellenglise and Lehaucourt, France.
The Citation, recorded at the London Gazette of 13 December 1918. Supplement: 31067, Page: 14774, reads:
“Capt. (A./Lt.-Col ) Bernard William Vann, M.C., late I/8th Bn., attd. I/6th Bn., Notts. & Derby. R. (T.F.).
For most conspicuous bravery, devotion to duty and fine leadership during the attack at Bellenglise and Lehaucourt on September 29th, 1918.
He led his battalion with great skill across the Canal Du Nord through a very thick fog and under heavy fire from field and machine guns.
On reaching the high ground above Bellenglise the whole attack was held up by fire of all descriptions from the front and right flank.
Realising that everything depended on the advance going forward with the barrage, Col. Vann rushed up to the firing line and with the greatest gallantry led the line forward. By his prompt action and absolute contempt for danger the whole situation was changed, the men were encouraged and the line swept forward.
Later, he rushed a field-gun single-handed and knocked out three of the detachment. The success of the day was in no small degree due to the splendid gallantry and fine leadership displayed by this officer.
Lt.-Col. Vann, who had on all occasions set the highest example: of valour, was killed near Ramicourt on 3rd October, 1918, when leading his battalion in attack.”
He was the only ordained clergyman of the Church of England to win the VC in the Great War as a combatant, and was awarded the Military Cross (MC)
“At Kemmel on 24 April 1915 when a small advance trench which he occupied was blown in, and he himself wounded and half buried, he showed the greatest determination in organising the defence and rescuing buried men under heavy fire, although wounded and severely bruised he refused to leave his post until directly ordered to do so. At Ypres on 31 July 1915, and subsequent days, he ably assisted another officer to hold the left trench of the line, setting a fine example to those around him. On various occasions he has led patrols up to the enemy’s trenches and obtained valuable information.”
He was killed in action, shot by a sniper at Ramicourt, France, on 3 October 1918 and is buried in Bellicourt British Cemetery, France.
© DRW 2017-2018. Created 26/04/2017. Image courtesy of Mark Green.