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World War 1 - Detailed information
Compiled and copyright © Paul Radford 2009

The Liverpool V.C. memorial is to be found at the University of Liverpool, Abercromby Square, Liverpool. Itb taks the form of the sculpted figure of Captain Noel Chavasse and a stretcher-bearer from the Liverpool Scottish Battalion rescuing a wounded soldier. Chavasse draws the soldier's right arm across his own back and supports the soldier under the left arm as he strides forward. The stretcher bearer kneels beside the wounded soldier's lower body, his right arm around the soldier's waist and his left reaching towards the soldiers legs. The memorial was made by Tom Murphy and was unveiled 17 August 2008 by Lance Corporal Johnson beharry V.C. & Lieutenant Commander Ian Fraser, V.C., R.D., D.S. Details here have been extracted from "Symbol of Courage - The Men behind the medal" by Max Arthur ISBN 0-33049133-4.

Photograph copyright © Paul Radford 2009

V.C. and Bar

Royal Army
Medical Corps hero
lived here

CHAVASSE Noel [Godfrey]

Captain, Royal Army Medical Corps 1917, VC. Born 9 November 1884 in Oxford. Died 4 August 1917, from wounds received during V.C. bar action, near Ypres, Belgium. Buried in Brandehoek New Military Cemetery, Buissy, France.

Captain, Royal Army Medical Corps attached 1st/10th Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment). Died of wounds 4 August 1917. Aged 32. Son of The Right Rev. The Lord Bishop of Liverpool, of The Palace, 19, Abercromby Square, Liverpool. His brother, Aidan also fell. V C and Bar, M C, Mentioned in Despatches. Matriculated 1904 Oxford University, Trinity College. In the 1911 census he was aged 26, unmarried, a Medical Student, born Oxford, resident Abercromby Square, Liverpool, Lancashire. In the Medical Register of 1913 he was resident The Palace, Liverpool, registered 22 July 1922, M.B., bac. Sugeon 1912, University, Oxford. Mobilised August 4, 1914. Buried in BRANDHOEK NEW MILITARY CEMETERY, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Plot III. Row B. Grave 15.


By 17 July, the British had secured a foothold on the ridge of about six thousand yards, with its highest point at Delville Wood, north-east of Longueval village, but to the left Pozières and Thiepval and to the right Guillemont remained in German hands. The forward troops were therefore in a sharp salient onto which heavy and concentric fire could be concentrated, and the immediate objective was to prevent the salient being driven in. The difficulties were immense: the attack would be uphill against very strongly held and newly reinforced positions, onto which artillery would be less than usually effective, since direct observation was rarely possible and weeks of low cloud and rain prevented RFC spotting. Haig paused to relieve his front-line troops, move guns forward and improve his communications, but on 18 July the Germans made their expected counter-attack on Delville Wood.

This phase of the battle saw a succession of small advances and fierce counter-attacks, with the key positions changing hands many times. Delville Wood was finally taken on the 27th; High Wood to the west and Pozières were finally taken by 1st Australian Division on the 25th. An advance on a wide front to the village of Guillemont, the immediate objective on Haig's right, on the 23rd had been checked, but with these intermediate positions secure, new assaults were launched on 30 July and 8 and 16 August, and on the 23rd the railway station on the outskirts was held against a counterattack. Simultaneously, what were deemed to be 'minor' attacks — but nonetheless involving savage fighting — continued: 'Our lines were pushed forward wherever possible by means of local attacks and by bombing and sapping, and the enemy was driven out of various forward positions from which he might hamper our progress.'*

By the end of August, there were five times as many German divisions on the British front as on 1 July, but they were believed to be exhausted and short of ammunition, particularly in artillery. Accordingly, at noon on 3 September a general assault was made from the Ancre in the north to the extreme right of the line, supported by the French in their sector. By the 9th, Beaumont-Hamel and Thiepval remained in German hands, as did the ground initially captured between High Wood and Delville Wood, but Guillemont and Ginchy had fallen, the second line penetrated, and about five miles of the nearer crest of the ridge held.

* Haig's despatch dated 23 December 1916 was published as a supplement to the London Gazette of 29 December 1916.

CHAVASSE, Noel Godfrey Captain, Royal Army Medical Corps, attached 1/10th Bn., King's (Liverpool) Regiment
One of seven children born in Oxford to the Reverend Francis and Edith Chavasse, Noel was the second of twins - both he and his brother Christopher in their respective fields of medicine and the Church would be a credit to the family name.

In 1900, the family moved to Liverpool, where Francis was ordained, and despite both twins returning to Oxford to study, it was Liverpool which Noel regarded as his home, and where, once he qualified as a doctor, he returned to work in 1912. Notably, both twins excelled at sports while at university, and represented Great Britain in the 400 metres at the 1908 Olympics.

Chavasse applied to join the Royal Army Medical Corps and was accepted into the 10th Battalion, the Liverpool Scottish, of the King's (Liverpool) Regiment as surgeon-lieutenant. It was a territorial battalion, but at the start of November 1914 it was in France, where Christopher Chavasse was already at the front as chaplain to No. 10 General Hospital at St-Nazaire. Tetanus was a major concern for Noel Chavasse in looking after the men's health, as there was no vaccine developed - but he obtained and was one of the first to use an anti-tetanus serum. (Over eleven million doses of the serum were administered during the war and very few patients developed tetanus.) Moved up to the front line, Chavasse often had cause to be thankful for his sprinting speed as he dodged sniper fire to run across open ground to treat the injured. Filthy trench conditions and the standing water and mud caused trench foot in epidemic proportions, and he found that in cutting away the clothes of injured men, his hands ended up as filthy as they were.

By the Second Battle of Ypres in March 1915, the battalion had moved to the Ypres Salient near Hill 60. Here the Germans used chlorine gas for the first time and, although the Scottish were not directly affected, alarm spread among the men. Concerned for all aspects of the men's well-being, Noel had his father send out a gramophone to lift morale. Trench life continued until 10 June 1915, when the battalion went into action at the Battle of Hooge, in which Chavasse lost most of his friends. Only 140 men and two officers remained fit for action - and for his bravery in treating the wounded his commanding officer recommended him for the Military Cross. The recommendation was lost at division level, but he was finally awarded the honour in January 1916.

Committed and caring, Chavasse openly criticized some areas of the RAMC and had great sympathy for those suffering from shell shock, their nerves in tatters after months of constant bombardment - these reasons probably account for his never being promoted above captain.

At the end of July 1916, the battalion moved to the Somme near Mametz, and on 7 August it was ordered to take part in an assault on Guillemont at dawn the next day as part of the 166th Brigade. Initially in reserve, it was called to action when the 164th Brigade got cut off. Unfortunately the guides did not turn up to lead them and while waiting the men were caught in shellfire and suffered early casualties. Then, when guides finally arrived, they were uncertain of their route and the battalion struggled into the jumping-off trenches with only minutes to spare. The attack was intended to capture the German front-line trench and press on to Guillemont - but from the off, the men came under sweeping machine-gun and artillery fire in no-man's-land. Four times the men tried to go forward, and were driven back while suffering many losses. Of the 23 officers of the Liverpool Scottish who began the attack, five were killed, five were missing and seven wounded - and of the 600 men, 69 were killed, 27 missing and 167 wounded.

Chavasse received two shell splinters in his back, but went on treating the injured, and in a sustained effort which earned him his first VC, he led a party of volunteers to bring in the wounded from no-man's-land. At one point he came to within 25 yards of the German line to rescue three men - and the rescue effort lasted throughout the night as they worked under a constant hail of bullets and artillery bombardment. After a short sick leave, Chavasse was returned in September to the thick of the fighting near Delville Wood. Here he learned from his father (who had been tipped off by Lord Derby) that he was to be awarded the VC - he commented, "Til I see it in print I will not believe it.'

The honours for the Guillemont action were finally announced - two of Chavasse's stretcher bearers were awarded the DSM, two more the Military Medal, and Chavasse's VC was confirmed.

Late in 1916, Chavasse spent a short posting with a small hospital away from his battalion - probably a reaction to his persistent criticism of RAMC methods and policies - but was back with his men by Christmas. Then in 1917 the Liverpool Scottish were in action in the Third Battle of Ypres. At dawn on 31 July, they launched an attack across open ground, but were held up by uncut wire, at which point they came under heavy machine-gun fire. A tank finally broke through the wire, allowing the men to go forward to take their first objectives. Chavasse moved his aid post from the Weiltje dugout (which was away from the immediate action) to a captured German dugout at Setques Farm, where he remained under heavy fire to help the wounded. After getting a shell splinter in the head (and possibly a fractured skull), the wound was dressed and he was back at the aid post, where he worked until sundown. When light failed, he took a torch and went in search of survivors in the wrecked landscape.

The next day, along with a German prisoner who was a medic, Chavasse worked in rain-sodden and mud-drenched conditions to treat the wounded. When a shell flew past him at the doorway and killed the man waiting to be carried out, it seems that Chavasse was wounded again in the head - but a stretcher bearer sent from the Weiltje dugout to bring him back reported, The doc refused to go and told us to take another man instead.' Around three o'clock next morning another shell entered the aid post, killing or wounding everyone inside. Chavasse, resting in a chair, received a wound to the stomach but, although bleeding heavily, he managed to drag himself out to the muddy road, and crawled to a dugout where a Lieutenant Wray of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment sent for help - and later sent his account of events to his local paper.

Chavasse was operated on at the casualty clearing station at Brandhoek, which specialized in abdominal surgery, and he came round from the operation. He was reported as being very weak, but speaking cheerfully - but he died at 1.00 p.m. on 4 August.

Chavasse's father, the bishop, received a letter in September from Lord Derby.

I signed something last night which gave me the most mixed feelings of deep regret and great pleasure, and that was the submission to his majesty that a Bar should be granted to the Victoria Cross gained by your son ... It is a great pleasure to think that your son, in laying down his life, laid it down on behalf of his fellow countrymen, and that it is recognised, not only by those who knew him, but by the King and Country as a whole.

The medals of Noel Godfrey Chavasse are on permanent loan to the Imperial War Museum, where they can be seen in the Victoria Cross and George Cross Gallery. Chavasse himself - a devoted Liverpudlian - is remembered and honoured in the city to this day.

It is interesting that there is a link between the only three men to have earned a bar to their VC awards. Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Martin-Leake was with the 46th Field Ambulance which brought Chavasse back to Brandhoek, and Captain Charles Upham was distantly related to Chavasse by marriage.


Encouraged by the success of the assault on Messines, Haig planned a conventional attack to gain the remainder of the ridge, as far north as Passchendaele. However, the next stage of his plan was subject to more than just enemy action — the constant, unremitting drizzle reduced shell craters in this lowland area to sludge and slime, the drainage system had been destroyed by savage bombardment, and with no sun or warmth to dry the ground the men of both sides fought and died in a man-made swamp. After a ten-day preliminary bombardment, the attack began at 3.50 a.m. on 31 July. A record for the war of eleven VCs were won that day. Ten British divisions went over the top, with 1st French Army (six divisions) to their left. They were supported by 136 tanks, but after four days of rain many bogged down in the deep mud before they could reach the line. The British made initial progress, especially at Pilckem Ridge, the French some, but both were thrown back by counter-attacks. The attacking forces had particular difficulties with pillboxes, also called at the time blockhouses or forts, which were equipped with machine-guns and were strong enough to survive direct hits with field artillery, and continued rain prevented major assaults. However, some ground was slowly retaken over the next few days, and on 16 August a new attack began: Wijdendrift and Langemarck were captured after several days of struggle and the French advanced from the Yser Canal on the left.

Nothing could be done except to hold positions until 20 September, when a limited attack on the Menin road advanced the front a mile. A series of limited advances, often checked or reversed by counter-attacks but never permanently halted, made slow and expensive progress, until the Canadians finally captured Passchendaele on 6 November and Haig called the offensive to a halt.

* CHAVASSE, Noel Godfrey Captain, Royal Army Medical Corps, attached 1/10th Bn, King's (Liverpool) Regiment
31 July to 2 August 1917 At Wieltje, Belgium, Captain Chavasse won a bar to his VC. See above.


Extracts from "The London Gazette" dated 26th October 1916, and 14th September 1917 respectively, record the following:

"For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. During an attack he tended the wounded in the open all day, under heavy fire, frequently in view of the enemy. During the ensuring night he searched for wounded on the ground in front of the enemy`s lines for four hours. Next day he took one stretcher-bearer to the advanced trenches, and under heavy shell fire carried an urgent case for 500 yards into safety, being wounded in the side by a shell splinter during the journey. The same night he took up a party of twenty volunteers, rescued three wounded men from a shell hole twenty-five yards from the enemy`s trench, buried the bodies of two Officers, and collected many identity discs, although fired on by bombs and machine guns. Altogether he saved the lives of some twenty badly wounded men, besides the ordinary cases which passed through his hands. His courage and self-sacrifice were beyond praise."

"For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty, when in action. Though severely wounded early in the action whilst carrying a wounded soldier to the Dressing Station, Capt. Chavasse refused to leave his post, and for two days not only continued to perform his duties, but in addition went out repeatedly under heavy fire to search for and attend to the wounded who were lying out. During these searches, although practically without food during this period, worn with fatigue and faint with his wound, he assisted to carry in a number of badly wounded men, over heavy and difficult ground. By his extraordinary energy and inspiring example, he was instrumental in rescuing many wounded who would have otherwise undoubtedly succumbed under the bad weather conditions. This devoted and gallant officer, subsequently died of his wounds."

Liverpool Heroes – This sculpture commemorates the life and deeds of Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse VC and Bar MC RAMC Medical Oficer to the 10th Battalion (Liverpool Scottish) Kings Liverpool Regiment and 15 other recipients of the Victoria Cross who were born in Liverpool and whose names appear around the base. Captain Chavasse son of the second Bishop of Liverpool was the only man to be awarded two Victoria Crosses during World War 1 and died on the 14th August 1917 of wounds received in Flanders. Several of the others named also made the supreme sacrifice. May this memorial remind us all of the debt we owe to such men. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”

ALEXANDER Ernest Wright

Major General, Royal Artillery 1914, VC CBE, CMG. Born 2 October 1870, in Woolton, Liverpool. Died 25 August 1934, in Kingsbridge, Devon. Ashes interred at Putney Vale Cemetery, London.


About 1 a.m. on 24 August the BEF was ordered to retreat towards the River Aisne, which flowed east-west about 50 miles north-east of Paris.

ALEXANDER, Ernest Wright Major, 119th Bty., Royal Field Artillery
24 August 1914 — At Audregnies, whilst under attack by a German corps, he successfully saved all the guns of his battery even though all his horses had been killed and almost every man in his detachment had been killed or wounded. With the help of Captain GRENFELL and officers and men of the 9th Lancers, the guns were all withdrawn by hand.


An extract from the London Gazette, dated 18 October 1916, records the following:

"For conspicuous bravery and great ability at Elouges on 24th August, 1914, when the flank guard was attacked by a Gorman corps, in handling his battery against overwhelming odds with such conspicuous success that all his guns were saved, notwithstanding that they had to be withdrawn by hand by himself and three other men. This enabled the retirement of the 5th Division to be carried oat without serious loss:
Subsequently Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander (then Major) rescued a wounded man under a. heavy fire, with the greatest gallantry and devotion to duty."


Private, Queens Bay’s Regt 1858, VC. Ended his career as Corporal. Born 1827 in Liverpool, Lancashire. Died 19 April 1899, in Seaham Harbour, Co. Durham. Buried in Princess Road Cemetery, Co. Durham.


ANDERSON, Charles Private, 2nd Dragoon Guards
8 October 1858 — At Sundeela, he was in a party attacked suddenly by 20-30 mutineers. He (together with Trumpeter MONAGHAN) came to the rescue of Colonel Seymour, who had been cut down by two blows from a sword. He drove at the enemy with his sword, keeping them at bay until the colonel recovered himself and together the men routed the entire rebel force.


An extract from the London Gazette, dated 11 November 1916, records the following:

"For saving the life of Lieutenant-Colonel Seymour, C.B., commanding the regiment, in an attack made on him on the 8th of October, 1858, by mutinous sepoys, in a dense jungle of sugar canes, from which an attempt was made to dislodge them. The mutineers were between 30 and 40 in number. They suddenly opened fire on Lieutenant-Colonel Seymour and his party at a few yards distance, and immediately afterwards rushed in upon them with drawn (native) swords. Pistolling a man, cutting at him, and emptying with deadly effect at arm's length every barrel of his revolver, Lieutenant-Colonel Seymour was cut down by two sword cuts, when the two men above recommended, rushed to his rescue, and the Trumpeter shoot¬ing a man with his pistol in the act of cutting at him, and both Trumpeter and Dragoon driving at the enemy with their swords, enabled him to arise, and assist in defending himself again, when the whole of the enemy were dispatched.

The occurrence took place soon after the action fought near Sundeela, Oudb, on the date above-mentioned."


Gunner, Bengal Artillery 1857, VC. Born May 1817 ib Liverpool, Lancashire. Died 31 December 1891 in Liverpool. Buried in Kirkdale Cemetery, Liverpool.


Mutiny flared up in Indore on 1 July, when the maharaja's troops attacked the Residency. Here Colonel James Travers led a five-man charge to drive the rebels from a gun battery, earning the VC. In the far north, in the largely peaceful Punjab region at Jhelum, mutiny broke out on 7 July, in Kolapore in the far south on the 10th and at Oonao on the 29th. These rebellions were quickly suppressed, but the fighting was vicious and VCs were earned at all three uprisings.

CONNOLLY, William Gunner, Bengal Horse Artillery
7 July 1857 — At Jhelum, he replaced a wounded sponge man attached to one of the guns. After two rounds had been fired he received a bullet through the left thigh. Nevertheless he mounted his horse and stayed with the gun as the battery retired to another position. He continued sponging out his gun until he was struck again, in the hip. When urged by his officer to retire he replied, 'I'll not go whilst I can work here.' Late in the afternoon, a third bullet tore through his right leg. Still he carried on sponging, until he collapsed unconscious into the arms of Lieutenant Cookes, at which point he was carried from the fight.


An extract from the London Gazette, dated 3 September 1858, records the following:

This Soldier is recommended for the Victoria Cross for his gallantry in Action with the Enemy, at Jhelum, on the 7th of July, 1857. Lieutenant Cooke', Bengal Hone Artillery, reports, that "about daybreak on that day, advanced my half Troop at a gallop, and engaged the Enemy within easy musket range. The Sponge-man of one of my Guns having been shot during the advance, Gunner Connolly assumed the duties of 2nd Sponge-man, and he had barely assisted in two discharges of his Gun, when a musket-ball, through the left thigh, felled him to the ground; nothing daunted by pain and loss of blood, he was endeavouring to resume his post, when I ordered a movement in retirement, and though severely wounded, he was mounted on his horse in the Gun-team, and rode to the next position which the Guns took up, and manfully declined going to the rear when the necessity of his so doing was represented to him.

About eleven o'clock, A.M., when the Guns were still in Action, the same Gunner, whilst sponging, was again knocked down by a musket-ball striking him on the hip, thereby causing great faintness and partial unconsciousness, for the pain appeared excessive, and the blood flowed fast. On seeing this. I gave directions for his removal out of Action; but this brave man hearing me, staggered to his feet, and said, 'No, Sir, I'll not go there, whilst I an work here,' and shortly afterwards he again resumed his post as Sponge-man.

Late in the afternoon of the same day, my three Guns were engaged at one hundred yards from the Walls of a Village with the defenders, viz., the 14th Native Infantry—" Mutineers—amidst a storm of bullets which did great execution. Gunner Connolly, though suffering severely from his two previous wounds, was wielding his sponge with an energy and courage which attracted the admiration of his comrade, and while cheerfully encouraging a wounded man to hasten in bringing up the ammunition, a musket-ball tore through the muscles of his right leg; but with the most undaunted bravery he struggled on ; and not till he had loaded six times, did this man give way, when, through loss of blood, he fell in my arms, and I placed him on a waggon, which shortly afterwards bore him in a state of unconsciousness from the fight."

COURY Gabriel George

Second Lieutenant, South Lancs Regt 1916, VC. Born 13 June 1896 in Liverpool. Died 23 Febuary 1956 in Liverpool. Buried in St. Peter and St. Paul Churchyard, Crosby, Merseyside. Achieve the rank of Captain.


At 7.20 a.m. on 1 July, Hawthorn Mine was detonated under a strongpoint protecting the village of Beaumont-Hamel. It left a crater 40 feet deep and 300 feet wide, but only alerted the Germans. Beaumont-Hamel was not finally taken until 13 November. The barrage lifted at 7.30 a.m. on 1 July, and sixteen more mines were detonated. The Allies went over the top, to find that along most of the line the dugouts had not been destroyed and the wire was intact. The British army took 57,470 casualties, 19,240 of them fatal. It remains the army's greatest loss on a single day.

Haig's despatch on the situation at the end of the first day painted a rosier picture of progress than was apparent to those in the action, and, by omission, denied the terrible losses and the desperate situation in which nine men acquitted themselves with such courage as to be awarded the VC.

COURY, Gabriel George Second Lieutenant, 3rd Bn, South Lancashire Regiment attached 1/4th Bn.
8 August 1916 — Whilst in command of two platoons ordered to dig a communication trench from the old firing line, to a position won at Guillemont, Somme, he kept up the spirits of his men under intense fire. He then ran forward to rescue his commanding officer who was lying wounded on ground swept by machine-gun fire.


An extract from the London Gazette, dated 26 October 1916, records the following:

"For most conspicuous bravery. During an advance he was in command of two platoons ordered to dig a communication trench from the old firing line to the position won. By his fine example and utter contempt of danger he kept up the spirits of his men and completed his task under intense fire.
Later, after his battalion had suffered severe casualties and the Commanding Officer had been wounded, he went out in front of the advanced position in broad daylight and in full view of the enemy, found his Commanding Officer, and brought him back to the new advanced trench over ground swept by machine gun fire.
He not only carried out his original task; and saved his Commanding Officer, but also assisted in rallying the attacking troops when they were shaken and in leading them forward."

GOURLEY Cyril Edward

Sergeant, Royal Artillery 1917, VC, MM. Born 19 January 1893 in Liverpool, Lancashire. Died 31 January 1982 in Haselmere, Surrey. Buried in Gramge Cemetery, West Kirby, Wirral, Cheshire. Reached the rank of Captain.


The year on the Western Front was dominated by the battles for Arras and Messines and the third battle for Ypres, and Cambrai — but fighting was not confined to these major offensives. Trench warfare continued throughout the year as forays ventured into no-man's-land to harry the enemy in their trenches, and 30 men distinguished themselves between January and December to earn the VC.

GOURLEY, Cyril Edward Sergeant, 276th (West Lancashire) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery
30 November 1917— Whilst he was in charge of a section of howitzers east of Epehy, France, the enemy advanced to within 400 yards in front, 300 yards on one flank and sent snipers around to the rear. He pulled his gun out of its pit and engaged a machine-gun at 500 yards, knocking it out with a direct hit. All day he held the enemy in check, firing over open sights on bodies of German troops. He saved his guns, which were withdrawn at nightfall.


An extract from the London Gazette, dated 12 February 1918, records the following:

"For most conspicuous bravery when in oommand of a section of howitzers: Though the enemy advanced in force, getting within 400 yards in front, between 300 and 400 yards to one flank and with snipers in rear, Sjt. Gourley managed to keep one gun in action practically throughout the day. Though frequently driven off he always returned, carrying ammunition, laying and firing the gun himself, taking first one and then another of the detachment to assist him.

When the enemy advanced he pulled his gun out of the pit and engaged a machine gun at 500 yards, knocking it out with a direct hit.

All day he held the enemy in check, firing with open sights on enemy parties in full view at 300 to 800 yards, and thereby saved his guns, which were withdrawn at nightfall.

He had previously been awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry."


Able Seaman, Royal Navy, 1862, VC. Born 22 June 1819 in Liverpool, Lancashire. Died 31 December 1904, in Plymouth, Devon. Buried in Ford Park Cemetery, Plymouth. Reached the rank of Quartermaster.


In 1850, eight years after the Manchu Ch'ing Empire's defeat by the British in the Opium War, the popular leader Hung Hsiu-ch'an raised an army of T'ai P'ing rebels in Guangxi Province. His aim was to overthrow the weak Manchu Ch'ing emperor and declare a Utopian Christian 'Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace'. Hung was a charismatic character and his philosophy — a mix of Chinese thinking and Protestant ethics — offered an end to the oppressive traditions of foot-binding, slavery, arranged marriages, concubinage, idol-worship and the destructive culture of opium-smoking. The rebels declared their new republic in 1851, and in March 1853 seized Nanking, establishing a new regime in which peasants owned the land in common.

An American adventurer named Frederick T. Ward became an unlikely ally for the Ch'ing Empire — he raised a small force of foreigners and led them against the T'ai P'ings. This motley group had the mercenary goal of plunder in mind, but they responded to discipline to achieve their own purposes, and were very successful against the rebels. Ward led this 'Ever Victorious Army' to take back Shanghai, but he was killed in battle. When his successor, an American called Burgevine, proved ineffectual, his place was taken, with the approval of the British authorities, by Major Charles Gordon (who was killed at Khartoum). Britain saw how the T'ai P'ing regime had paralysed trade and wanted positive action to restore commerce. Under Gordon's leadership the T'ai P'ings' strongholds were reduced until only Nanking remained to be retaken. During this campaign, at an engagement at Fung Wha, a VC was earned by Able Seaman George Hinckley from HMS Sphinx. Imperial troops finally retook Nanking in July 1864, and the rebellion was over after eleven years. With the loss of an estimated thirty million lives, it was the bloodiest civil war in history, and the second bloodiest war of any kind. Only the Second World War was worse.

HINCKLEY, George Able Seaman, Royal Navy (Naval Brigade)
9 October 1862 — At Fung Wha, China, he was part of a force which attacked the fortified town. The force found the main gate blocked and had to retreat under an intense fire of musket balls, stink pots, slugs, nails and jagged lumps of iron fired from loopholes in the walls. Noticing the assistant master of his ship, HMS Sphinx, lying wounded in the open, he ran to him and carried him to the safety of a temple. He ran back to rescue another man and then returned to the fight.

He lost his medal at a funeral in 1863 and had to pay twenty four shillings for a replacement.


An extract from the London Gazette, dated 6 February 1863, records the following:

"For volunteering while under the East Gate of the city of Fung-Wha, to carry to a joss house, a hundred and fifty yards distant, under a heavy and continuous fire of musketry, gingalls and stink-pots, Mr Coker, Master's Assistant of the "Sphinx", who had been wounded in the advance to the gate; in which object Hinckley succeeded. On his return to the gate, under a similar fire, he again volunteered and succeeded in carrying to the joss-house Mr Bremer, an officer of Ward's force, who had also been wounded in the advance on the gate; and he again returned to his post under the gate."

JONES Alfred Stowell

Lieutenant, 9th Lancers, 1857, VC. Born 24 January 1832 in Liverpool, Lancashire. Died 29 May 1920, Finchampstead, Berkshire. Buried in St James Churchyard, Finchampstead. Reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.


Control of Delhi was the key to putting down the rebellion, so all available troops were called in. The Delhi Field Force of four thousand British, Sikh and Pathan troops, including the remnants of the Meerut garrison, approached the city under command of General Sir Harry Barnard — and sent out to meet them was a force of thirty thousand mutineers with thirty guns. They met in a battle on 8 June against vastly superior numbers at Badle-ke-Serai. Good military tactics and leadership, solid discipline and great individual courage prevailed, and the Delhi Field Force was able to occupy the strategically important area of the ridge to the north-west of the city walls.

JONES, Alfred Stowell Lieutenant, 9th Lancers
8 June 1857 — At Badle-ke-Serai, Delhi, he commanded a squadron which charged the rebels, riding straight through them, killing drivers and capturing one of their guns. He trained the gun on a village held by the mutineers and drove them out. 10 October 1857 — At Agra, he received twenty-two wounds, including part of his head being cut away and the loss of one eye.

He later recalled that on the day of his investiture he was sporting such a shocking bruise above his blind eye that the Queen became so nervous that she pricked him through his tunic as she pinned on his cross. In 1912 he published the book Will a Sewage Farm Pay?.

Extract from the Liverpool Echo 2 November 2010:

Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Stowell Jones VC

LIEUTENANT Colonel Alfred Stowell Jones VC (Liverpool 24 January 1832 - Finchampstead 29 May 1920) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
He was 25 years old, and a lieutenant in the 9th Lancers, British Army during the Indian Mutiny when the following deed on 8 June 1857 at Delhi, India took place for which he was awarded the VC:
On June 8, 1857 9th the Cavalry charged the rebels and rode through them. Lieutenant Alfred Stowell Jones (later Captain 18th Hussars), with his squadron, captured one of their guns, killing the drivers, and, with Lieutenant-Colonel Yule's assistance, turned it upon a village, occupied by the rebels, who were quickly dislodged.
It was described as a well-conceived act, gallantly executed.
He later achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel. Jones was the son of the late Archdeacon Jones. He was educated at Liverpool College and Sandhurst and entered the 9th Lancers in 1852.
Throughout the siege of Delhi he served as DAQMG to the cavalry and was mentioned in despatches three times and promoted Captain and Brevet-Major. Afer graduating from Staff College in 1861 he served on the Staff at the Cape 1861-7 and retired in 1872


An extract from the London Gazette, dated 18 June 1858, cites a despatch from Major-General James Hope Grant, K.C.B., dated 10 January 1858; it records the following:

"The Cavalry charged the rebels and rode through them. Lieutenant Jones, of the 9th Lancers, with his squadron, captured one of their guns, killing the drivees, and, with Lieutenant-Coloonel Yule's assistance, turned it upon a village, occupied by the rebels, who were quickly dislodged. This was a well-conceived act, gallanty executed."


Sergeant, Kings Liverpool Regiment, VC. Born 10 January 1891 in Liverpool. Died 7 October 1916, in action at Battle for Transloy Ridges, Somme, France. Buied in Bancourt British Cemetery, France.

Sergeant 14951, 12th Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment). Killed in action 7 October 1916. Aged 24. Born, resident and enlisted Liverpool. Son of David and Jessie Jones, of 27, Aigburth Street, Liverpool; husband of Elizabeth Dorothea Jones, of 203, Smithdown Lane, Edge Hill, Liverpool. Awarded the Victoria Cross (V.C.). Buried in BANCOURT BRITISH CEMETERY, Pas de Calais, France. Plot V. Row F. Grave 20.


By 17 July, the British had secured a foothold on the ridge of about six thousand yards, with its highest point at Delville Wood, north-east of Longueval village, but to the left Pozières and Thiepval and to the right Guillemont remained in German hands. The forward troops were therefore in a sharp salient onto which heavy and concentric fire could be concentrated, and the immediate objective was to prevent the salient being driven in. The difficulties were immense: the attack would be uphill against very strongly held and newly reinforced positions, onto which artillery would be less than usually effective, since direct observation was rarely possible and weeks of low cloud and rain prevented RFC spotting. Haig paused to relieve his front-line troops, move guns forward and improve his communications, but on 18 July the Germans made their expected counter-attack on Delville Wood.

This phase of the battle saw a succession of small advances and fierce counter-attacks, with the key positions changing hands many times. Delville Wood was finally taken on the 27th; High Wood to the west and Pozières were finally taken by 1st Australian Division on the 25th. An advance on a wide front to the village of Guillemont, the immediate objective on Haig's right, on the 23rd had been checked, but with these intermediate positions secure, new assaults were launched on 30 July and 8 and 16 August, and on the 23rd the railway station on the outskirts was held against a counterattack. Simultaneously, what were deemed to be 'minor' attacks — but nonetheless involving savage fighting — continued: 'Our lines were pushed forward wherever possible by means of local attacks and by bombing and sapping, and the enemy was driven out of various forward positions from which he might hamper our progress.'*

By the end of August, there were five times as many German divisions on the British front as on 1 July, but they were believed to be exhausted and short of ammunition, particularly in artillery. Accordingly, at noon on 3 September a general assault was made from the Ancre in the north to the extreme right of the line, supported by the French in their sector. By the 9th, Beaumont-Hamel and Thiepval remained in German hands, as did the ground initially captured between High Wood and Delville Wood, but Guillemont and Ginchy had fallen, the second line penetrated, and about five miles of the nearer crest of the ridge held.

* Haig's despatch dated 23 December 1916 was published as a supplement to the London Gazette of 29 December 1916.

JONES, David Sergeant, 12th (S) Bn., King's (Liverpool) Regiment
3 September 1916 — As his platoon advanced on a forward position at Guillemont, Somme, enemy machine-guns opened up, killing the officer in charge. Jones sprang forward, took command and led the advance on, taking the position under intense shell fire. Despite having no food or water, he and his men drove off two fierce German attempts to regain the position and held it for two days until relief arrived. A fellow NCO described Jones as `the right man in the right place at the right moment'.


An extract from the London Gazette, No. 29802, dated 24 October 1916, records the following:

"For most conspicuous bravery, devotion to duty, and ability displayed in the handling of his platoon. The platoon to which he belonged was ordered to a forward position, and during the advance came under heavy machine gun fire, the officer being killed and the platoon suffering heavy losses Serjt. Jones led-forward the remainder, occupied the position, and held it for two days and two nights without food or water, until relieved. On the second day he drove back three counter-attacks, inflicting heavy losses. His coolness was most praiseworthy. It was due entirely to his resource and example that his men retained confidence and held their post."

KENNA [Paul] Aloysius

Captain, 21st Lancers, 1898, VC, DSO. Born 16 August 1862 in Liverpool, Lancashire. Died 30 August 1915. He was killed by a sniper at Gallipoli, Turkey. Buried in Lala Baba Cemetery, Gallipoli. Reached the rank of Brigadier General.

Brigadier General, Commanding 3rd Mounted Brigade, General Staff and A.D.C., 21st (Empress of India's) Lancers. Died of wounds 30 August 1915. Aged 53. Second son of the late James Kenna, of Oakfield House, Lancaster, and nephew of the late Matthew Kearney, of The Ford, Lanchester, Durham, General Kenna was born in 1862; was educated at Stonyhurst; and became lieutenant in the West India Regt. in 1886. Three years later he was appointed to the 21st Lancers, of which he became lieutenant-colonel in 1906. He won the V.C. while serving with the Nile Expedition in 1898. Served in the Second Angloi-Boer War on the Staff, for his services he was twice mentioned in dispatches, awarded the D.S.O. and the brevet of major. In that campaign he served on the Staff and afterwards in command of a column. In 1902-4 he again saw active service with the Somaliland Field Force, and was twice mentioned in dispatches. General Kenna married, first, in 1895, Lady Cecil Josephine Bertie (who died in October of that year), third daughter of the seventh Earl of Abingdon ; and, secondly, in 1905, Angela Mary, youngest daughter of the late Hubert Aloysius Tichborne Hibbert. Angela Mary Kenna was resident at Trowle House, Trowbridge, Wilts. V C, D S O, Mentioned in Despatches. He competed in the 1912 Olympics in equestrian events but did not win a medal. Buried in LALA BABA CEMETERY, Turkey (including Gallipoli). Plot II. Row A. Grave 1.

Awarded DSO (London Gazette 3 June 1916) and bar (London Gazette 26 March 1918) for: "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when supporting an infantry attack. He led a section of one of his batteries across the open and got it into action close behind the firing line. His gallant conduct was an inspiration to all" (London Gazette 24 August 1918)


The defeat of General Gordon at Khartoum in 1885 was seen as a major British humiliation, and there were calls for revenge. No action was taken, however, until a new Conservative government under Lord Salisbury came to power in 1895. By then the government was also concerned about the Khalifa's regime in Sudan, which bordered British-held Egypt, and needed to restore the perception of European strength in the region following Italy's thwarted attempt to expand her territories in Eritrea in March 1896.

In March 1896, the Egyptian army under Kitchener was ordered to retake the Dongola Province in Sudan. On 7June, Kitchener led five Egyptian and five Sudanese battalions, one British engineer company and the machine-gun sections of the 1st North Staffords and the Connaught Rangers to defeat the dervish force at Firket. He then advanced, with reinforcements, to Hafir, where his men encountered the last organized resistance before reaching Dongola, which they occupied on 23 September.

In 1897, Kitchener planned a rail link between Wadi Haifa (at what is now the southern end of Lake Nasser) and Abu Hamed on the Nile to the south and east, so as not to have to rely on the looping course of the river for transport. Work began on 1 January 1897, with the route for the track being cleared of opposition by a force under Major General Sir Archibald Hunter, who reached Abu Hamed on 7 August and went on to occupy Berber, further south down the river, on 5 September. The Khalifa's army now threatened action, so Kitchener called in more British troops, who joined him in January 1898.

Kitchener attacked Emir Mahmoud's camp at Atbara, on the Nile to the south-east of Berber, routing the dervish defenders and capturing the Emir. Now with some twenty-six thousand men, Kitchener advanced along the Nile towards the Khalifa's base at Omdurman, and by 1 September he arrived within artillery range. In a grave tactical error, the Khalifa, instead of waiting for an attack in the hills around Omdurman, lined up his forty thousand men on the plain before the town. Early on the morning of 2 September, the Khalifa's troops attacked, but the superior artillery and massive fire power repelled two attacks, inflicting massive losses - eleven thousand killed, sixteen thousand wounded and four thousand taken prisoner. Kitchener then marched out from his defended positions and in the following engagement, Colonel Hector Macdonald's Sudanese Brigade and the 21st Lancers came under heavy attack, the latter carrying out one of the last major cavalry charges in history, during which VCs were earned by Private Thomas Byrne, Lieutenant the Honourable Raymond de Montmorency, Captain Paul Kenna and Captain Nevill Smyth. For the loss of just 48 dead, Kitchener advanced victorious into Omdurman. On 4 September, British and Egyptian flags were raised over Omdurman and, to exact due revenge for Gordon's death, Gordon's nephew blew up the tomb of the Mandi who had defeated him.

Dervish resistance persisted, and on 7 September a small force under Colonel Parsons marched on Gedarif, south-east of Khartoum, and occupied the town on 22 September, during which action Captain the Honourable Alexander Hore-Ruthven earned the VC. It was not until November 1899 that British control was finally established in Sudan.

KENNA, Paul Aloysius Captain, 21st Lancers
2 September 1898 - At the Battle of Khartoum, Sudan, seeing that Major Crole Wyndham's horse had been killed, he rode up to the major, took him up onto his own horse and rode him to safety. He then (together with Corporal Swarbrick) rode to the assistance of Lieutenant DE MONTMORENCY who was dismounted in the midst of the enemy. He kept the enemy off with his revolver whilst the corporal caught the lieutenant's horse and retrieved it.


An extract from the "London Gazette" dated 15th November 1898, records the following:

"At the Battle of Khartoum, on 2nd September 1898, Captain P.A. Kenna assisted Major Crole Wyndham, of the same regiment, by taking him on his horse, behind the saddle (Major Wyndham's horse having been killed in the charge), thus enabling him to reach a place of safety; and after the charge of the 21st Lancers, Captain Kenna returned to assist Lieutenant de Montmorency, who was endeavouring to recover the body of second Lieutenant R.G. Grenfell."


Private , Lincolnshire Regiment 1857, VC. Born July 1827 in Liverpool, Lancashire. Died 31 August 1865 in Liverpool. Buried in Liverpool Cemetery, Liverpool.


Once the news of the Meerut mutiny reached other garrison towns, insurrection spread across the north. In Benares, in the south-east of the Oudh region, Colonel Gordon believed that his Sikh soldiers would stay loyal, while having misgivings about the native infantry. A disarmament parade was hurriedly planned for the afternoon of 4 June and was under way when a shout came from among the sepoys that they were being disarmed so that the Europeans could shoot them down unopposed. Chaos broke out as the sepoys rearmed themselves, opened fire on the European troops and rampaged through the town looting, killing and setting fire to buildings — three VCs were awarded during this action. The mutiny was quashed in a day, but the backlash lasted much longer, and anyone even suspected of mutiny or inciting rebellion was publicly hanged.

KIRK, John Private, 10th Regiment
4 June 1857 He was at Benares where the mutineers were setting light to bungalows and killing the inhabitants. Alongside Sergeant Major GILL and Sergeant Major ROSAMUND, he made his way to the residence of Captain Brown and his family, who were in great peril, and brought them all to safety.


An extract from the "London Gazette" dated 20 January 1860, records the following:

"For daring gallantry at Renares, on the 4th of June, 1867, on the outbreak of the mutiny of the Native Troops at that station, in having volunteered to proceed with two Non-commissioned Officers to rescue Captain Brown, Pension Paymaster, and his family. who were surrounded by rebels in the compound of their house; and having, at the risk of his own life, succeeded in saving them."

McKENZIE Hugh [McDonald]

Lieutenant, Princess Patricias Canadian Light Infantry 1917, VC, DCM. Born 5 December 1885 in Liverpool, Lancashire. Died 30 October 1917, during VC action, Meescheelw Spur, Belgium. No known grave.

Lieutenant, Canadian Machine Gun Corps. Died 30 October 1917. Aged 30. Son of the late Mrs. Jane McDonald McKenzie, of 23, James Street, Dundee, Scotland. Croix de Guerre (France), VC, DCM. No knwon grave. Commemorated on YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Panel 32.


The Allies had lost a hundred thousand men since the start of the battle at the end of July, and the Anzac forces were decimated. The Canadian Corps was brought in to replace them. Following their successes at Vimy Ridge and Hill 70 it gained a reputation as an elite force, and was brought into the thick of the battle for Haig's drive to take Passchendaele. On 26 October twenty thousand men of the 3rd and 4th Canadian Divisions advanced up the hills of the salient — the Allies suffered twelve thousand casualties during the day for just a few hundred yards gained. Undeterred by the losses and unwilling to call off the assault, a second offensive was launched on 30 October in driving rain. On this attempt the Allies took the ruined village of Passchendaele and there followed five days of grim defence against constant enemy shelling. When reinforcements arrived on 6 November four-fifths of the Canadian Corps had been lost. Finally, on 10 November the Allies succeeded in driving the enemy off the slopes to the east of the town to consolidate their hold on the hard-won high ground.

McKENZlE, Hugh McDonald Lieutenant, 7th Coy., Canadian Machine-Gun Corps, Canadian Expeditionary Force
30 October 1917 — Whilst in charge of a section of four machine-guns accompanying the infantry in an attack at Meescheele Spur, Belgium, and aware that the attack was faltering due to fire coming from a pillbox on the crest of a hill, he rallied the infantry and led an assault on the pillbox. He was shot through the head as the pillbox was captured.


An extract from "The London Gazette," No. 30523, dated 12 February 1918, records the following:

"For most conspicuous bravery and leading when in charge of a section of four machine guns accompanying the infantry in an attack. Seeing that all the officers and most of the non-commissioned officers of an infantry company had become casualties, and that the men were hesitating before a nest of enemy machine guns, which were on commanding ground and causing them severe casualties, he handed over command of his guns to an N.C.O., rallied the infantry, organised an attack, and captured the strong point. Finding that the position was swept by machine-gun fire from a ' pill-box ' which dominated all the ground over which the troops were advancing, Lt. McKenzie made a reconnaissance and detailed flanking and frontal attacking parties which captured the 'pill-box', he himself being killed while leading the frontal attack. By his valour and leadership this gallant officer ensured the capture of these strong points and so saved the lives of many men and enabled the objectives to be attained."


Private, South Lancs Regt 1917, VC, MM. Born 21 March 1883 in West Derby, Lancashire. Died 26 March 1963 in Liverpool. Buried in Allerton Cemetery, Liverpool.


The Battle of Messines was an essential first step for a British offensive in Flanders, necessary now the French army was exhausted and mutinous, and unfit for offensive action. The Messines Ridge was a German salient southeast of Ypres held since 1914; at 3.10 a.m. on 7 June, hundred of tons of explosive packed into nineteen mines went off simultaneously, killing ten thousand men in half a minute. Nine British and Anzac divisions attacked, with seventy-two tanks and following a creeping barrage, and took the ridge in thirty-five minutes. The positions held against counter-attacks, and in throwing them back more ground was gained. By 14 June the whole salient had been taken.

RATCLIFFE, William Private, 2nd Bn, South Lancashire Regiment
14 June 1917 — After an enemy trench had been captured at Messines, Belgium, he spotted a hostile machine-gun which was firing on his comrades from the rear, attacked it and bayoneted its crew. He then brought the gun back into action on the front line.

At a dinner given in his honour in October 1917 by the National Union of Dock Labourers, Lord Derby made a speech in which he announced that a proposed monetary presentation would not take place whilst Ratcliffe was still serving as it breached army regulations but that it would be made when he returned to civilian life.


An extract from "The London Gazette," dated 2 August 1917, records the following:

"For most conspicuous bravery.

After an enemy's trench had been captured, Pte. Ratcliffe located an enemy machine gun which was firing on his comrades from the rear, whereupon, single-handed and on his own initiative, he immediately, rushed the machine gun position and bayonetted the crew. He then brought the gun back into action in the front line.

This very gallant soldier has displayed great resource on previous occasions, and has set an exceptionally fine example of devotion to duty."

STUART Ronald Niel

Lieutenant, Royal Naval Reserve 1917, VC, DSO & Bar, RD. Born26 August 1886 in Liverpool, Lancashire. Died 8 February 1954 in Charing, Kent. Buried in Charing Cemetery. Reached the rank of Captain.


At sea, although the full force of the German surface fleet was no longer operative after the Battle of Jutland in 1916, predations on Allied shipping by German U-boats resumed with renewed vigour, prompting the Royal Navy to resort to new measures — the Q Ships, or Mystery Ships, which were modified merchantmen with concealed guns — to lure the enemy submarines into surfacing and leaving themselves open to shelling. The first Q-ship VC was awarded for action in an encounter in the Irish Sea in mid-February, and men of the Q ships continued to distinguish themselves throughout the year, in the Irish Sea, the Atlantic and the Bay of Biscay.

STUART, Ronald Niel Lieutenant, Royal Naval Reserve
7 June 1917 Whilst he was serving on HMS Pargust, a 'mystery ship', in the Atlantic Ocean, an enemy submarine fired a torpedo at close range and damaged Pargust's engine room. Mystery ships were fitted with carefully disguised guns and were designed to attack U-boats. A 'panic party' rowed away from Pargust but then its gunners opened fire, sinking the submarine.

He was elected for the award by officers of HMS Pargust under Rule 13 of the Royal Warrant.


An extract from "The London Gazette," dated 20 November 1917, records the following:

"Action of H.M.S "Pargust" on the 7th June, 1917.

On the 7th June, 1917, while disguised as a British merchant vessel with a dummy gun mounted aft, H.M.S. "Pargust" was torpedoed at very close range. Her boiler-room, engine-room, and No. 5 hold were immediately flooded, and the starboard lifeboat was blown to pieces. The weather was misty at the time, fresh breeze and a choppy sea. The "Panic Party", under the command of Lieutenant F. R. Hereford, D.S.C., R.N.R., abandoned ship, and as the last boat was shoving off, the periscope of the submarine was observed close before the port beam about 400 yards distant. The enemy then submerged, and periscope reappeared directly astern, passing to the starboard quarter, and then round to the port beam, when it turned again towards the ship, breaking surface about 50 yards away. The lifeboat, acting as a lure, commenced to pull round the stern; submarine followed closely and Lieutenant Hereford, with complete disregard of the danger incurred from the fire of either ship or submarine (who had trained a maxim on the lifeboat), continued to decoy her to within 50 yards of the ship. The "Pargust" then opened fire with all guns, and the submarine, with oil squirting from her side and the crew pouring out of the conning tower, steamed slowly across the bows with a heavy list. The enemy crew held up their hands in token of surrender, whereupon fire immediately ceased. The submarine then began to move away at a gradually increasing speed, apparently endeavouring to escape in the mist. Fire was reopened until she sank, one man clinging to the bow as she went down. The boats, after a severe pull to the windward, succeeded in saving one officer and one man. American Destroyers and a British sloop arrived shortly afterwards, and the "Pargust" was towed back to port. As on the previous occasions, officers and men displayed the utmost courage and confidence in their captain, and the action serves as an example of what perfect discipline, when coupled with such confidence, can achieve.

(The award of the Victoria Cross to Lieut. Ronald Neil Stuart, D.S.O., R.N.R., and Sea. William Williams, R.N.R., O.N., 6224A., was announced in The London Gazette no. 30194, dated 20 July 1917.)"



Private, 2nd Bombay European Regt 1857, VC. Born 1829 in Liverpool. Died 24 June 1899 at McGrath's Hill, New South Wales, Australia. Buried in General Presbyterian Cemetery, McGrath's Hill, New South Wales, Australia. Grave not marked.


Most of the fighting in 1857-58 had been in the north, and although there had been two rebellions in central India, at Gwalia and Jhansi, they were not put down until 1858, when Sir Hugh Rose, in command of the Central India Field Force (two brigades), advanced from Bombay in a campaign of unsurpassed speed and effectiveness. He set out on 6 January, and on 3 February relieved Saugor, which had been besieged for eight months, then marched for Jhansi.

Mutiny had broken out at the Jhansi garrison to the south-west of Lucknow in June 1857. As at Cawnpore, when the beleaguered occupants of the besieged fort offered to turn it over to the rebels in exchange for their lives, the mutineers went back on their word and massacred them as they left. The fort remained in rebel control, but now it had become imperative for the British to remove the threat posed by this major rebel stronghold, which had a garrison of eleven thousand men.

At the start of the rebellion it was questionable as to whether the Rani of Jhansi had condoned the massacre - her letter guaranteeing the safety of the evacuees had either been a sham, or perhaps had been ignored by the rebel troops. However, in February 1858, her stance was unequivocal — her troops insisted that she fight the approaching British force. When the column under the command of Sir Hugh Rose arrived and surrounded the town on the 21st the Rani had made preparations for a long siege, but, despite an attempt to relieve it by twenty thousand men led by Tantia Topi that was defeated at the Betwah River by a thousand native troops and five hundred British, by 3 April the town was in British hands. Savage close-quarters fighting, spurred no doubt by vengeance for the earlier massacre, saw the award of seven VCs.

WHIRLPOOL, Frederick Private, 3rd Bombay European Regiment
3 April 1858 — At Jhansi, he twice went out to bring wounded men to safety under very heavy fire from the wall of the fort. 2 May 1858 — He went to the rescue of Lieutenant Doune under such heavy fire that he received seventeen desperate wounds, one of which almost severed his head from his body.

Frederick Conker changed his name to Whirlpool. He later changed it again, to James.

Tantia Topi had occupied the town of Koonch, which was held by a strong fort, but on 7 May it was taken, though the temperature was 110°F in the shade and many on both sides died from the heat.


An extract from "The London Gazette," dated 21 October 1859, records the following:

"For gallantry volunteering on the 3rd of April, 1858, in the attack of Jhansi, to return and carry away several killed, and, wounded, which he did twice under very heavy fire from the wall; also, for devoted bravery at the Assault of Lobari on the 2nd of May, 1858, in rushing to the rescue of Lieutenant Doune, of the Regiment, who was dangerously wounded. In this service, Private Whirlpool received seventeen desperate wounds, one of which nearly severed his head from his body. The gallant example shown by this man is considered to have greatly contributed to the success of the day."

WHITE Albert

Sergeant, South Wales Border Regt 1917, VC. Born 1889 in Kirkdale, Liverpool, Lancashire. Died 19 May 1917, during VCaction, Monchy-le-Preux. No known grave.

Sergeant 24866, 2nd Battalion, South Wales Borderers formerly 43785, Royal Army Medical Corps. Killed in action 19 May 1917. Aged 23. Born and enlisted Liverpool. Son of the late Mr. and Mrs. White, of 58, Lamb Street, Liverpool. Awarded the VC. No known gtrave. Commemorated on ARRAS MEMORIAL, Pas de Calais, France. Bay 6.


The Allies' major plan on the Western Front for 1917 was for a French breakthrough in Flanders, supported by limited British and French attacks between, respectively, Arras and Bapaume, and the Somme and the Oise. For this offensive, British forces in France were under French command. Just after this was agreed in London, the Germans redrew the map of the Somme—Oise salient by withdrawing to the Hindenburg Line, leaving a wasteland behind. The French view was that the planned attacks would outflank the new defensive line.

The Arras battlefield was dominated by Vimy Ridge, north-east of the town, which had been taken by the Germans in 1914. Haig assigned it to 1st Army (thirteen divisions) and the high ground beyond Arras to 3rd Army (eighteen divisions), with a diversionary attack at Bullecourt made by 5th Army (six divisions). He had five thousand guns and sixty tanks, and the Cavalry Corps (six divisions) to exploit success. The Germans had eight divisions with nine in reserve. Technical advances since the Somme included detailed maps provided by aerial reconnaissance, artillery fuses that burst on impact to cut wire, gas projectors with ranges of 1,200 yards and creeping barrages to precede infantry advances. Most importantly the infantry could move up to the start line through tunnels and caves, rather than under enemy fire.

After a five-day barrage, the attack began in a snowstorm at 5.30 a.m. on 9 April. Success that day was considerable, with two German lines occupied, and the all-important ridge taken by the Canadians at the cost of fourteen thousand casualties; on the right, the village strongpoint of Mon-chy-le-Preux was taken on the 1 1 th after a cavalry charge. An advance against Bullecourt that day from the new positions against the Hindenburg Line was a bloody failure, and the advance was halted on the 14th, until the outcome of the Aisne offensive could be known.

By the 18th it was apparent that the Battle of Arras was a disastrous failure. Haig made a new assault at Arras on 3 May; fighting continued until the end of the month without further success.

WHITE, Albert Sergeant, 2nd Bn, South Wales Borderers
19 May 1917 — Realizing that an enemy machine-gun would hold up the advance of his company at Monchy-le-Preux, he dashed ahead of his company to capture the gun. He fell, riddled with bullets, within a few yards of the gun.


An extract from "The London Gazette," dated 27 June 1917, records the following:

"For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. Realising during an attack that one of the enemy's machine guns, which had previously been located, would probably hold up the whole advance of his Company, Serjt. White, without the slightest hesitation and regardless of all personal danger, dashed ahead of his Company to capture the gun. When within a few yards of the gun he fell riddled with bullets, having thus willingly sacrificed his life in order that he might secure the success of the operations and the welfare of his comrades."

Erected with the support of many ordinary citizens of Merseyside and beyond who acknowledge the bravery of such men as these. To all of you and to those Regimental Associations, local business men and organisations who contributed we, and the families of those named, are eternally grateful. We do not seek to glorify war but rather to show the suffering, sacrifice and incredible valour which war demands and will always demand. Noel Chevasse VC Memorial Association 17th August 2008. Sculptor: Tom Murphy, Liverpool

Last updated 22 January, 2019

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