Victoria Crosses (VCs) Awarded in the Great War

To Native and Adopted Cheltonians

The Victoria Cross

"It is ordained that the Cross shall only be awarded for most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy".

 

The VC is the highest decoration that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.   It was instituted by Royal Warrant in 1856 (but was made retrospective to the Autumn of 1854 to cover the Crimean War) and has been bestowed only 1354 times and can only be bestowed for actions "in the presence of the enemy".

Cheltonians awarded the VC for actions in the Great War

Capt Arthur Forbes Gordon KILBY, VC, MC

Born at East Hayes, Pittville Circus Road, Cheltenham in 1885.  Commissioned into the South Staffordshire Regiment after graduating from the Royal Military College Sandhurst.   Capt Kilby was killed in action during the first day of The Battle of Loos on 25th September 1915 and awarded posthumous VC.   Full details of this award can be viewed here.   His body was eventually found on 19th February 1929 and buried in the Arras Road Cemetery, Roclincourt, France.

Captain Kilby was also awarded the Military Cross and was Mentioned in Despatches twice.

He is not commemorated on any memorial in Cheltenham or the local area.

Capt Anketell Moutray READ, VC

Born in Beaumont House, Shurdington Road, Cheltenham and educated at Glyngarth School Douro Road, Cheltenham,  Capt Read was commissioned into the Gloucestershire Regiment in 1903 and served for some time in the Royal Flying Corps.   He was killed in action at Loos on 25th September 1915 whilst serving in the Northamptonshire Regiment and awarded a posthumous VC.   Full details of the award can be found here.   He is buried in Dud Corner Cemetery, Loos, France.

He is commemorated on the Cheltenham War Memorial.

Major Douglas Reynolds, VC

Born in Bristol in 1881, he was educated at Cheltenham College and resided with his parents at "Thorncliff" Lansdown Road, Cheltenham.   Maj Douglas was commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery in 1900.  Awarded the VC after courageous action in the Le Cateau and Pysloup areas of France in 1914.  He died of wounds sustained in action on 3 February 1916 and full details of the award can be viewed here.   He is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery, France.

Commemorated on the Cheltenham War Memorial and the Christ Church Roll of Honour.   Also commemorated on the grave of his father in St Peter's Churchyard, Leckhampton, near Cheltenham.

Lt Col James FORBES-ROBERTSON, VC, DSO & Bar, MC

Born in Cheltenham in 1886 and prior to commissioning into the Border Regiment in 1904 attended the Cheltenham College.   Awarded the VC for conspicuous gallantry on 11/12th April 1918 in the Vieux Berquin area of France whilst serving with the 1st Battalion of the Border Regiment.   For full details of the award please click here.   Died in Bourton-on-the-Water in 1955 and buried in Cheltenham Cemetery.   His brother Kenneth, who also attended Cheltenham College,  was serving as a Captain with the 2nd Battalion Seaforth Highlanders and was killed in action on 8th November 1914.   Kenneth is commemorated on the Cheltenham Borough Memorial and on the Holy Apostles Church Roll of Honour.

Lt Col Richard Annesley WEST, VC, DSO & Bar, MC, Twice Mentioned in Despatches

Born in the Oxford Street area of Cheltenham.   After service as a trooper with the Imperial Yeomanry during the Boer War he remained in South Africa until 1914 when he returned home and was commissioned into the North Irish Horse.   Killed in action at Courcelles, France on 21 August 1918 whilst commanding the 6th Battalion of the Tank Corps.   Full details of the award can be found here.  Lt Col WEST is not commemorated on any memorial in the town.

 

Adopted Cheltonians awarded the Victoria Cross for actions in the Great War

Commander Daniel Marcus William BEAK VC, DSO, MC & Bar

Born in Southampton and lived in Cambray, Cheltenham, whilst placed in charge of the YMCA Cheltenham prior to joining the Royal Naval Reserve in 1915.  Awarded the VC for exceptional gallantry during the period 21 August - 4 September 1918 in the Logeast Wood area of France.   For full details of this award please click here.   Died in Swindon in 1967 and buried in an unmarked plot in Brookwood Cemetery.   A commemorative plaque was erected in his memory at the Cheltenham War Memorial on 27th September 2006.

Commander Edward UNWIN VC, CB, CMG

Born in Hythe, Hampshire and educated in Cheltenham with a home address in Charlton Kings.   Awarded the VC for exceptional gallantry during the landings at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915.   Survived the war and died, in Hindhead, in 1950.   For full details of his bravery can be viewed here.

 

Previous students of Cheltenham College, "Old Cheltonians", who were awarded the VC in the Great War

Sgt (later Capt) Frederick Charles BOOTH VC, DCM   -   British South African Police attached to Rhodesia Native Regiment   -   12th February 1917 at Johannesbruck, near Songea, Tanganyika (now Tanzania).
Lt Cdr (later Rear Admiral) Edward Courtney BOYLE VC   -   Royal Navy   -   Submarine E14   -   27th April 1915 in the Sea of Marmara, Dardanelles, Turkey.
2Lt (later Lieutenant) George Raymond Dallas MOOR VC, MC & Bar   -   2nd Battalion The Hampshire Regiment (later The Royal Hampshire Regiment)   -   5th June 1915 near Krithia, Gallipoli, Turkey.   Later killed in action on 3rd November 1918.
Lt (later Lt Gen Sir) Philip NEAME VC, KBE, CB, DSO, CLd'H, CdeG (France), CdeG (Belgium)   -   Royal Engineers   -   19th December 1914 at Neuve Chapelle, France

VC recipients who moved to Cheltenham after the award of the VC

LCpl (later Major) William Henry HEWITT VC   -   2nd Battalion South African Light Infantry   -   20th September 1917 in the Passchendaele area of Belgium.   Died in Cheltenham on 7th December 1966

Captain (later Major) Richard Raymond WILLIS VC   -   1st Battalion The Lancashire Fusiliers   -   25th April 1915 west of Cape Helles, Gallipoli, Turkey.   One of 6 members of the battalion who were awarded the VC for gallantry in this action.   Major Willis died in Cheltenham on 9th February 1966.   A commemorative plaque was placed in the Chapel at Cheltenham Cemetery on 11th September 2002.

Notes:

1.   A list of VC recipients buried or cremated in Cheltenham can be viewed here.

 

 

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