Vic­to­ria Cross heroes

Coventry Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

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 (2nd Royal War­wick­shires)

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.

Robert Phillips (13th Royal War­wick­shires)

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.

Ed­ward Hen­der­son (9th Royal War­wick­shires)

Hen­der­son was ed­u­cated at Dun­sta­ble 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.

Arthur Hutt (7th Royal War­wick­shires)

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.

Ju­lian Grib­ble (10th Royal War­wick­shires)

Born in Lon­don in 1897, Cpt Grib­ble

was 21 years old when he won his VC at Beaumetz on March 23, 1918, dur­ing the Ger­man spring of­fen­sive.

With or­ders to hold on in face of heavy at­tacks, the Ger­mans broke through, but Grib­ble and his com­pany would not yield and sent back a run­ner to say he would stay un­til or­dered to re­tire.

By his courage and de­ter­mi­na­tion the Ger­mans were un­able to ob­tain mas­tery of the ridge for some hours, and the rest of his bri­gade was able to with­draw.

Grib­ble him­self was wounded and taken pris­oner and died in Ger­many of pneu­mo­nia on Novem­ber 24, 1918, be­fore he could be repa­tri­ated. He is com­mem­o­rated on the War Me­mo­rial at Long Bredy in Dorset.

Henry Tandey (5th Duke of Welling­tons)

Tandey was born in Leam­ing­ton in 1891 and won the VC on Septem­ber 28, 1918, at the Bat­tle of Mar­co­ing in France.

When his pla­toon was halted by heavy ma­chine-gun fire Pte Tandey crawled for­ward to lo­cate the gun post and led a Lewis gun team to de­stroy it.

He then re­built a plank bridge cross­ing a canal, again un­der a hail of bul­lets.

Later that evening he and eight com­rades were sur­rounded by Ger­mans.

Although badly wounded, Tandey led a bay­o­net charge so fierce that 37 of the en­emy were driven into the hands of his com­pany.

He was also awarded the Dis­tin­guished Con­duct Medal and the Mil­i­tary Medal and was men­tioned for gal­lantry five times in dis­patches.

He may also in­fa­mously have spared Adolf Hitler’s life when he came face-to­face with the fu­ture Nazi dic­ta­tor in bat­tle, but chose not to shoot.

Tandey moved to Coven­try af­ter leav­ing the army in 1926 and died in the city in 1977, aged 86. He was cre­mated at Can­ley and his ashes were buried in Mas­nieres British Ceme­tery in Mar­co­ing.

William Amey (18th Royal War­wick­shires)

Amey was born in Birm­ing­ham in 1881 and was a 37-year-old lance-cor­po­ral when he took part in an at­tack on Lan­drecies in or­der to se­cure the bridge­head on the Sam­bre on Novem­ber 4, 1918.

Due to fog many hos­tile ma­chine-gun nests were missed by the lead­ing troops.

Un­der heavy fire, Amey led his sec­tion against a ma­chine gun nest, drove the gar­ri­son into a neigh­bour­ing farm and fi­nally cap­tured about 50 pris­on­ers and sev­eral ma­chine guns.

He then at­tacked a ma­chine-gun post in a farm-house, killed two of the gar­ri­son and drove the re­main­der into a cel­lar un­til as­sis­tance ar­rived, and later rushed a strongly-held post, cap­tur­ing 25 pris­on­ers.

Amey was de­mobbed as a cor­po­ral in 1919 and lived in Leam­ing­ton un­til his death at the age of 59 in 1940. He is buried at Leam­ing­ton Ceme­tery.

Ce­cil Knox (Royal En­gi­neers)

Knox was born in Nuneaton and won the VC on March 22, 1918, at Tugny, when he was en­trusted with the de­mo­li­tion of 12 bridges.

He suc­cess­fully car­ried out the task, but in the case of one steel girder bridge the time fuse failed to act. With­out hes­i­ta­tion he ran to the bridge un­der heavy fire, tore away the time fuse and lit the in­stan­ta­neous fuse.

He died in Nuneaton in 1943 when he lost con­trol of his mo­tor­cy­cle on ice on Tut­tle Hill and is buried in Wither­ley church­yard.

Robert Phillips

Ed­ward Hen­der­son

Arthur Vick­ers

William Amey

Henry Tandey

Ce­cil Knox

Ju­lian Grib­ble

Arthur Hutt

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