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Old 18-07-2017, 07:44 PM
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The Last Man Standing
Private Edward Dwyer of the 1st Battalion The East Surrey Regiment, was the youngest person at that time, to be awarded the Victoria Cross, after single-handedly fending off the advancing enemy.

Edward Dwyer was born in Fulham, to Irish parents, on the 25th November 1895 and brought up in Lintaine Grove.

After leaving St Thomas School, he got a job as a delivery boy for a local greengrocer, before enlisting to the army, in The East Surrey Regiment, aged 16.

He was your average "Tommy", following in the footsteps of hundreds of other young men of his age, who enlisted to fight in the First World War.

Dwyer served at the Retreat of Mons, the first battle fought by the British Army against the Germans.

He wasn't always the "hero" either - army records show he was disciplined for stealing another soldiers boots!

But, on the 20th April 1915, Private Edward Dwyer's name entered the history books.

He and his fellow soldiers were defending their position on Hill 60, a man-made strategic point, about 3 miles outside Ypres in Belgium.
Edward had already left the "safety" of his trench to tend to the wounded under heavy fire during the bombardment.

There were many German assaults on the hill that afternoon with the opposing trenches only 15 yards apart in some places! They were so close, in fact, that Dwyer said afterwards he could hear the enemy talking in "their lingo".

All around him, his colleagues were either badly injured or dead, when the Germans began to move closer to the British trench.
The last man standing, Pte Dwyer armed himself with as many grenades as he could find, climbed to the top of the trench and threw the bombs at the enemy!

One of the grenades hit the officer in charge and it may have been this that started the German retreat. They were never aware there was only one man left able to fight, in that trench.
By the time more British soldiers had arrived to back him up, Edward told them "I didn't see one go back" meaning he thought he had killed all the soldiers who had attacked.

He returned to the battle and a few days later, received a head injury, which meant he was sent back to Britain to recuperate.

Another member of the East Surrey regiment described the battle, to a reporter at the The Evening News.

Hell on earth

"The fight on Hill 60 was awful".
The Germans used every kind of explosive, from small bombs to shells that shook the ground like an earthquake.
This went on from four o'clock in the afternoon to about four the next morning.
Some of the German shells were filled with a stinking acid, which blinded one."
Three Victoria Crosses - the UK's highest award for valor, were awarded for the action at Hill 60.

Edward was awarded his Victoria Cross "for most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty" and at the time was the youngest person to receive the medal.
He was presented the honour by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 15th June 1915.

Back home, he became something of a celebrity, not only in his regiment, but also with the local girls!

The War Office sent "The Little Corporal" as he was nicknamed, on a recruiting drive, for the regiments, visiting schools and rallies, helping to enlist hundreds more like him.

He gave rousing speeches "I promise you this, a drink and a cigar for the first ten recruits who come up here. Age is nothing, I was only 16 when I joined. Out at the front, there are men who are gray headed."

At a parade in the Strand in 1915, a bystander commented "Dwyer looked quite a boy, and one of small stature too....but his hearty laughter and smiles told of his pride and joy in the demonstration."
He was even featured on a set of cigarette cards in 1915, entitled The Great War - Victoria Cross Heroes.

He was also awarded the Imperial Cross of Saint George IV class
Awarded by Russian Federation.

TWO Victoria Crosses were awarded for distinguished service in the famous struggle for Hill 60. The gallant soldiers who received them were Second-Lieutenant Geoffrey Harold Woolley and Lance-Corporal Edward Dwyer. In order to appreciate their heroic exploits it is necessary first to describe the events leading up to them.
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Old 30-07-2017, 07:40 PM
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Three VC's in 1 Winnipeg road - Valour Road, Winnipeg!

Company Sergeant Major Frederick William Hall, Corporal Clarke and Lieutenant Shankland photos and medals are seen at the War Museum in Ottawa Nov 5, 2012. (source:FredChartrand / C/P)
A collection of all three Victoria Cross medals awarded during the First World War to residents of Winnipeg’s Pine Street, later renamed Valour Road, are on display at the Canadian War Museum.
This collection was completed with the 2012 acquisition of the medal awarded in 1915 to Company Sergeant Major Frederick William Hall. The War Museum in Ottawa acquired the Valour Road Victoria Crosses of Lieutenant Robert Shankland and Corporal Lionel B. Clarke in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
Only 96 Victoria Crosses were awarded to Canadians in the medal’s 156-year history, making this coincidence exceptional. With the acquisition of the Hall Victoria Cross, the Canadian War Museum now has 33 Victoria Crosses in its collection, including one from the nineteenth century, 28 from the First World War and four from the Second World War.
"Valour Road is remarkable for its association with three recipients of this renowned award for bravery. The three men were honoured for their heroic acts in different battles and in different years, but all were from a single block of the same residential street," said Mark O’Neill, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation, which operates the Canadian War Museum. "These medals belong together and so they shall remain in perpetuity, held in the name of all Canadians."
The trio of medals will remain on permanent display in the Royal Canadian Legion Hall of Honour. In 2014, this famous trio of Victoria Cross Medals will be loaned to the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg for a special exhibition commemorating the role of the Winnipeg Rifles and Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders regiments during the First World War.
The Victoria Cross was introduced during the reign of Queen Victoria and remains the highest award for military valour in Britain and much of the Commonwealth including Canada, which created its own version of the Victoria Cross in 1993. The Victoria Cross is awarded "for the most conspicuous bravery, a daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty, in the presence of the enemy."
Company Sergeant Major Frederick William Hall received the medal for his actions during the 2nd Battle of Ypres, infamous as the site of the first German gas attack on the western front. Hall was shot in the forehead and killed during a prolonged and valiant attempt to rescue a wounded comrade. The posthumous award was presented to his mother.
Corporal Clarke received his medal for valour in the face of the enemy at the Somme Front on September 9, 1916, while Lieutenant Shankland received his Victoria Cross for actions during the Battle of Passchendaele in October 1917.
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Old 15-08-2017, 08:55 PM
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The following account is based on Gerald Gliddon's account of Cotter's career published in 'VCs of the First World War: Cambrai 1917' published by The History Press.

Lance/Corporal (Acting) Corporal William Cotter was the second Allied soldier to win the Victoria Cross on the Western Front in 1916. He was a member of the 6th (Service) Battalion The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) which was formed in Canterbury on August 1914 when it became part of the 37th Brigade of the 12th Division. The division arrived in the area of the Hohenzollern Redoubt, near Bethune, in mid-February 1916, where it had been three months before. The Division took over from the Cavalry Corps, who, according to the official history, “. . . were holding the Quarries and Hohenzollern sectors from opposite Cité St Elie to opposite the dump of Fosse 8”.

Near the end of February the 170th Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers had completed three mines under the enemy’s shallow system. It was decided that these mines should be blown as soon as possible, which would allow the British to recover a position close to the Triangle Crater called the Chord, which had once been the front line but was now in enemy hands.

The Chord ran along the front of the German line between the sites of the first two mines, A and B, and at mine C it changed its name to Little Willie. The three mines were duly fired on 2 March and most of the objectives were captured, except for a northern section of the Chord. Over the next few days the enemy made strenuous efforts to retake the lost ground and in particular Mine A, which allowed the British to have good observation over their lines.

On 5 March the 36th Brigade was relieved by the 37th, whose HQ was based at Vermelles, and the 6th Buffs became the right battalion. According to the 37th Brigade Diary, their orders were to capture Triangle Trench and consolidate on the line the Chord–Big Willie, 50 yards south-east of its junction with the German trench running to the south of Triangle Crater:

“. . . We exploded a mine at midnight just south of Sap 6, close to the German front line to blow in hostile gallery; no attempt made to occupy crater by either side. Hostile Trench Mortars and artillery fire did some damage to Sticky Trench, Northampton Trench & Vigo Street. 5.10 a.m. enemy blew a small mine near Sap 2. No damage done. Neither side occupied crater. . . .”

At 9 a.m. the enemy blew a mine of their own, this time near Sap 6, only 20 yards from the parapet. No damage was done but Saps 5 and 6 were partly filled. Seven hours later, and preceded by heavy bombardment, another German mine was exploded, this time in front of Alexander Trench close to Sap 6. Sixteen men suffered badly from shock and there was slight damage to the trenches. An hour later, at 6.00 p.m., C Coy of the 6th Buffs attacked the Triangle Crater and the Chord in three parties. Two of the parties were held up within ten minutes by accurate bombing, and the third by the nature of the heavy ground conditions, with water and mud being knee-deep. Only one party made any real progress reaching their objective, but without the assistance of the other two parties the situation was hopeless. Reinforcements were requested and a company from the 6th Royal West Kents was ordered up to try to assist.

The attack turned out to be entirely unsuccessful, and the battalion diary recorded casualties of twenty-nine killed and 233 missing or wounded, including those men who had suffered from shock. The battalion diary considered that the attack failed because of a preponderance of the enemy (it was later discovered that a hundred German bombers with unlimited supplies of grenades were on the point of making an attack of their own launched from deep trenches intersecting the Triangle), muddy conditions and the short notice given for the attack. In addition, no allowance was made for the ground to be reconnoitred. Finally, the process of bomb supply was severely interrupted by a very active enemy.

On 7 March mining and counter-mining continued and the 6th Buffs were relieved by the 6th Royal West Kents.

The fighting at the Hohenzollern Redoubt, which had begun on the 2nd with the British firing five mines and occupying forward lips of the craters, continued with fluctuating intensity through deteriorating weather conditions of cold and heavy snowstorms. However, these conditions did not deter the enemy from making active preparations for regaining their former positions, which they eventually achieved on the 18th, when the 37th Brigade had been in the line for fourteen days.
here were many acts of heroism during the crater fighting, but one that stands out is that of Cpl William Cotter, who despite his shattered legs continued to direct a bombing attack and even managed to continue to throw bombs himself. There is no shortage of information in the records about his gallant deed, and it would seem sensible to quote in full from Appendix L from the 37th War Diary signed by Capt R.O.C. Ward under recommendation of Cpl W. Cotter for the Victoria Cross.

In the attack made by the 6th Battalion The Buffs, along the Northern Trench of TRIANGLE CRATER, on the night of the 6th March, the party led by Corpl. Cotter was cut off owing to casualties in the centre. He returned under heavy bomb fire, reported the matter and then took back bombs to his party, so enabling them to fight their way back to No 2 CRATER.

While directing this latter operation his right leg was blown off close to the knee and he was also wounded in both arms.

He made his way unaided along 50 yds of trench in order to reach No 2 CRATER.

While doing so he came upon a junior N.C.O. (Lance/Corporal Newman) who with his section was bombing towards the right. Corpl. Cotter appreciating where help was most needed directed him to bomb towards the left.

He reached No 2 CRATER and by this time the Germans had developed a violent and rapid counter-attack.

Matters became somewhat disorganised as the garrison of the Crater was throwing bombs and firing wildly, whilst they were suffering heavy casualties from the enemy’s bombs.

Corpl. Cotter then from a position on the side of the Crater although suffering great pain, steadied the men, issued orders, controlled their fire and then altered their dispositions to meet the attack on his side of the Crater. He also directed and controlled the supply of bombs and S.A.A.

He remained in this position for about two hours and only after the attack had been repelled and matters had quietened down a little would he permit his wounds to be roughly dressed.

It was not possible to evacuate him until 14 hours later and during this time he had a cheery word for all who passed by the entrance of the ‘dug-out’ where he was placed.

Undoubtedly the fine example he showed to all by his endurance under suffering, coolness under fire, and keen sense of duty, helped greatly to save what might have become a very critical situation.
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Old 13-09-2017, 08:48 PM
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Major Henry Kelly VC, MC & Bar (10 July 1887 – 18 July 1960) 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.
Kelly was born on 10 July 1887 in Collyhurst, Manchester. He was a temporary second lieutenant in the 10th Battalion, The Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment during the First World War at the time of his award of the Victoria Cross in 1916. He was awarded a Military Cross and later a Bar to that medal in Italy in 1918. Other Military awards include the Belgian Croix de guerre, the French Médaille militaire and the Spanish Grand Laurelled Cross of San Fernando.
Henry Kelly was born to Charles Kelly of Dublin and Jane (née McGarry) of Manchester. He was left the oldest of 10 children after his father died in 1904. He was educated at St Patrick's School and Xaverian College, both in Manchester. After moving to King Street in Moston he was employed as a sorting clerk at the Newton Street sorting office and trained with the 'Manchester Royal Engineers territorial Regiment'. On 5 September 1914, aged 27, he enlisted into the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders as a Private. He transferred to the Manchester Regiment and became a Lance Corporal and two weeks later a Sergeant Major. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant on 12 May 1915 into the Duke of Wellington's Regiment (West Riding Regiment). On 29 October 1918 he was awarded the Victoria Cross and after being presented with his VC ribbon, by the corps commander on 11 September he was made a Temporary Lieutenant.

Award of Victoria Cross
On 4 October 1916, when he was 29 years old, he performed an act of bravery at Le Sars, France for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. Later he was also awarded the Belgian Croix de guerre and the French Médaille militaire.
For most conspicuous bravery in an attack. He twice rallied his company under the heaviest fire, and finally led the only three available men into the enemy trench, and there remained bombing until two of them had become casualties and enemy reinforcements had arrived. He then carried his Company Sergeant Major, who had been wounded, back to our trenches, a distance of 70 yards, and subsequently three other soldiers. He set a fine example of gallantry and endurance.

Award of Military Cross
In June 1918, as a Captain serving in the 10th Battalion, he saw action in Italy on the Asiago Plateau, where he led a company and a half on a successful raid on 'Ave', to the south of Asiago, on the night of 21–22 June, after which he was awarded the Military Cross.

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty at Ave, on the night of the 21/22nd June, 1918, when in charge of a company and a half in a raid. Despite a bright moon, he successfully assembled his party and attacked, killing a large number of the enemy and capturing thirty-one prisoners and two machine-guns. His gallantry and fine leadership were largely responsible for the success of the raid"

1. The raiding party one coy with two platoons in support under CAPT H KELLY, VC formed up without incident and the advance commenced at 11.30pm according to time table.
2. S.AVE was found to be very lightly held (it is possible that the remainder of the garrison fled when the barrage came down) and was quickly mopped up. An Outpost or working party was also met with about 100 yds in front of the front trench. These were mostly killed, the remainder fled, and the advance was in no way delayed.
3. The enemy's front line was entered at 11.40pm on a frontage of 200 yds E of the GUARDINALTI - AVE Road. The trench was found to be very strongly held, a Coy apparently being concentrated for relief.
4. The raiding party was thoroughly imbued with the "spirit of the bayonet" and the greater part of the garrison was wiped out with cold steel after slight resistance. All dugouts were thoroughly bombed. There can be no doubt that the number of enemy killed was very high, even after making full allowance for the impossibility of obtaining really accurate figures. With some difficulty the officers of the party were able to ensure that 31 of the enemy were brought back alive for identification purposes etc. All are convinced that this formed less than a third of the garrison of the trench.
5. One machine gun was captured in good condition. Another was captured but had been so damaged by artillery fire that it was not worth salving. One Flammenwerfer was also obtained.
6. The raiding party returned in good order through the enemy's barrage about 12 midnight without incurring further casualties.
7. Result of raid: Prisoners 31. Enemy killed: Highest estimate 80, Lowest estimate 50, M.G's captured 2, M.G's destroyed 1, Flammenwerfer captured 1.
8. Casualties: Killed 1 other rank. Wounded 1 officer, 18 other ranks. Missing 1 officer, 2 other ranks.
sgd. A B BEAUMAN, Brig.Gen Cmdg 69th Infantry Brigade"

Award of Bar to Military Cross
Kelly was involved in later actions on Il Montello above the river Piave On 27 October 1918 during the Piave he led another successful attack across the Piave, after which he was awarded a bar to his Military Cross.
"On the 27th October, 1918, in the attack in the enemy positions across the Piave, he led his company with greatest dash and gallantry to the capture of all its objectives. His coolness and utter disregard of danger under heavy fire of all description inspired all ranks, and by his skillful leadership his company succeeded in taking many machine-guns and several hundred prisoners."
Kelly left the army in 1920, having been promoted to the rank of Temporary Major and put in charge of a rest camp in France.
Between the wars

Kelly went on to first serve 1922-23 in the Irish National Army during the Irish Civil War, then joining the 'International Brigades', in 1936, as a foreign volunteer fighting against Fascists in the Spanish Civil War and was ranked Commandente Generale. Here he was awarded the Grand Laurelled Cross of San Fernando.
At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, aged 52, he rejoined the British army and served from thence as a Lieutenant in the Cheshire Regiment. From October 1943 until February 1944 he was placed in charge of the District Claims office of London District, at Curzon Street. He was at that time Court Martialled and severely reprimanded for making an allegedly false claim for £2 10s. He later resigned his commission and left the army to return to work for the Post Office.

Post war
Kelly continued to work for the Post Office and lived in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester. Following a long illness Kelly died, on 18 January 1960, in Prestwich Hospital. He was buried after a private funeral, attended by members of his family and representatives of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment (West Riding), in Southern Cemetery, Manchester.
Medal location[edit]
Kelly's Victoria Cross is displayed in The Duke of Wellington's Regimental Museum, located within the Bankfield Museum, Halifax, West Yorkshire, England.
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