We will remember them VICTORIA CROSS
THE Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour “in the presence of the enemy” to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces. It was introduced in 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of bravery during the Crimean War and has since been awarded 1,357 times to 1,354 individual recipients.
Among them are at least eight men from Coventry and Warwickshire, or who served with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, during the First World War.
Arthur Vickers was born in Birmingham in 1882 and won the VC during the Battle of Loos on September 25, 1915.
Launching an attack at 6.30am, and in the face of terrific fire, the battalion reached the first line of trenches to find the wire had not been cut.
Pte Vickers ran forward and, standing up in broad daylight under heavy fire, cut two gaps in the wire.
His action contributed largely to the success of the assault which saw the capture of 60 prisoners.
An indication of the severity of the fighting that day is that after the attack the battalion could only muster five officers and 140 men. Vickers died aged 62 in 1944 and was buried at Witton Cemetery in Birmingham.
Phillips was born in West Bromwich on April 11, 1895, and served as a temporary lieutenant and later captain with the 13th Battalion, attached to the 9th, which was involved in fierce fighting against the Turks near Kut in Mesopotamia.
On January 25, 1917 a Turkish counter attack had driven the leading British troops out of their trenches.
Col Edward Henderson the commanding officer of the 9th, was severely wounded during an attack to regain the position. Phillips showed great courage both during the attack and in bringing Henderson back to the British trenches.
Phillips survived the war and died in Cornwall in 1968. Grammar School and was 38 years old, and a major and lieutenant colonel in The North Staffordshire Regiment attached to 9th Royal Warwickshires.
On 25 January 1917 on the west bank of the River Hai, near Kut, Mesopotamia, Henderson brought his battalion up to two front-line trenches which were under intense fire. Although shot through the arm, Henderson jumped onto the parapet and advanced alone some distance in front of his battalion, cheering them on under the most intense fire over 500 yards of open ground.
Again wounded, he nevertheless continued to lead his men on, finally capturing the position by a bayonet charge.
He was again twice wounded, and died when he was eventually brought in. He is buried in the Amara War Cemetery.
Hutt was born in Earlsdon in 1889 and was the first Coventrian to be awarded the VC.
On October 4, 1917, during the third battle of Ypres, “A” Company captured their first objective but, as they continued their advance, all the officers and NCOs in Pte Hutt’s platoon were hit. Hutt, aged 28, took command and led the platoon forward. He was held up by an enemy strong point, but ran forward alone, shot the officer and three men in the post, and caused 40 or 50 others to surrender.
Realising that he had pushed too far, Hutt withdrew his party, personally covering the withdrawal by sniping and killing a number of the enemy.
After carrying back a badly wounded comrade he went back out and carried in four men under heavy fire.
Hutt died in Wyken, on April 14, 1954, aged 65. Following a military funeral, he was cremated at Canley. There is a stone to his memory in Coventry’s War Memorial Park.