Richard Travis 1918 — Ros­sig­nol Wood, France

The New Zealand Herald - - News -

Richard Travis, a deadly sniper, the “Prince of Scouts” and the “King of No Man’s Land”, was a nat­u­ral born war­rior — and a flouter of mil­i­tary dis­ci­pline.

A win­ner of the VC, the Mil­i­tary Medal, the Dis­tin­guished Con­duct Medal and the Bel­gian Croix de Guerre, Travis also had his pay docked for ab­sence with­out leave and was dis­ci­plined for drunk­en­ness and re­fus­ing to obey or­ders.

“Brave, fear­lessly brave, won­der­fully clever, crude, il­lit­er­ate, lov­able, this re­mark­able man had done those things which we read of only in story books,” an of­fi­cer friend wrote of Sergeant Travis, soon after he was killed by an ex­plod­ing shell in late July 1918.

“He had a ge­nius for pa­trol work — ab­so­lutely with­out fear and clever in all he did,” the un­named of­fi­cer said in a let­ter pub­lished in the Otago Wit­ness un­der the head­line, “A su­per­hero”.

In the ac­tion which won him the VC at Ros­sig­nol Wood, west of Ba­paume — the day be­fore his death — Travis had crawled for­ward to de­stroy a wire bar­rier with grenades. Rush­ing ahead, he killed the crews of two ma­chine guns, then four more en­emy sol­diers who came at him around a bend in the trench.

Born Dick­son Cor­nelius Sav­age at Opotiki in 1884, he moved by stages to South­land, turned his back on his fam­ily, changed his name and be­came a horse-breaker.

Travis signed up soon after the war be­gan and served at Gal­lipoli and on the Western Front.

● Note — Seven other men with con­nec­tions to New Zealand, in­clud­ing Bernard Frey­berg, who was ed­u­cated in Welling­ton and be­came Gover­nor-General, won the VC while serv­ing in the armed forces of Aus­tralia or Bri­tain.

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