A Tribute; Heroes and Heroism

Article excerpt

The First World War produced countless examples of heroes and heroism.

The bravery, courage and selacrifice by soldiers thrown into a brutal conflict is demonstrated only too well in this special edition of The Birmingham Post's History of the 20th Century.

It is not a comprehensive list of the Midland men who received the Victoria Cross but a tribute to some of the acts of heroism for which it was awarded.

On this page are some of the Midland men who were awarded the Victoria Cross and the official citation which accompanied it.

Birmingham soldiers served with particular distinction and honour during the war and eleven men from the city were awarded the VC. The pictures of each man and their official citation is recorded on the following two pages.

The fourth page is devoted to tributes made at the time or shortly after the war. We also list some of the Midland men who were also rewarded for their valour with the Military Cross, Distinguished Conduct Medal and other awards.

Corporal William Beesley, of Galley Common, Nuneaton, being awarded his Victoria Cross by King George V for most conspicuous bravery. In May 1918 Corporal Beesley's platoon sergeant and commanders were killed during an attack on an enemy outpost. Corp Be esley took charge of the situation and rushed the outpost, killing two of the enemy gunners with his revolver. He killed an officer trying to take their place and shot another officer trying to destroy a map. He then disarmed eight prisoners and sent the m back to British lines. Beesley set up a Lewis gun and held his position with a wounded colleague despite enemy attacks. At 10pm he carried his wounded colleague back to his own lines and remained at his post until the enemy attack was over.

FOUR MIDLAND MEN IN VC LIST

November 27, 1917 - A list is published this morning of the names of four Midland men who have been awarded the Victoria Cross, vis:-

Lance-sergeant J.H. Rhodes, Grenadier Guards, Tunstall, Staffordshire.

Corporal E.A. Egerton (20) Notts and Derby regiment, collier, Kildare Street, Longton.

Private F.G. Dancox (38), Worcestershire Regiment, a hay trusser, of Worcester.

Private A. Hutt (28), Royal Warwickshire Regiment, artificial silk worker, Caluden Road, Stoke, Coventry.

No 15122 Lance-sergeant John Harold Rhodes, Grenadier Guards, Tunstall, Staffordshire.

For most conspicuous bravery when in charge of a Lewis gun section covering the consolidation of the right front company.

He accounted for several enemy with his rifle as well as by Lewis gun fire, and, upon seeing three enemy leave a "pillbox" he went out single-handed through our own barrage and hostile machine-gun fire and effected an entry into the "pillbox". He then ca ptured nine enemy, including a forward observation officer connected by telephone with his battery. These prisoners he brought back with him, together with valuable information.

No 71130 Corporal Ernest Albert Egerton, Notts. and Derby Regiment, Longton.

For most conspicuous bravery, initiative, and devotion to duty when, during attack, owing to fog and smoke, visibility was obscured and in consequence thereof the two leading waves of the attack passed over certain hostile dug-outs without clearing them. Enemy rifles, assisted by a machine gun, were, from these dug-outs, inflicting severe casualties on the advancing waves. When volunteers were called for to assist in clearing up the situation, Corporal Egerton at once jumped up and dashed for the dug-ou ts under heavy fire at short range. He shot in succession a rifleman, a bomber and a gunner, by which time he was supported and 29 of the enemy surrendered.

The reckless bravery of this NCO relieved in less than thirty seconds an extremely difficult situation. He gallantry is beyond all praise.

No 21654 Pte Frederick George Dancox, Worcestershire Regiment, Worcester. …