Category Archives: Victoria Cross.

3 Days in September 1915, 3 soldiers who crossed from #Folkestone.

20th  September 1915


Private 17324 Francis George Miles V.C.. 1/5th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment.

Francis Miles first crossed to France as a private with the 9th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment, leaving Folkestone on the 20th September 1915. Francis was wounded and sent back to England to recover. After his recovery he was posted to the 1/5th Battalion The Gloucestershire Regiment. Francis served with the battalion in Italy. In September 1918 the 1/5th Battalion left the 48th Division in Italy and joined the 25th Division on the Western Front. It was here on the 23rd October 1918 Private F. G. Miles took part in the action for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. The citation as recorded in, “The 25th Division in France and Flanders” by Lieut-Col. M. Kincaid-Smith, page 391 reads.

The courage, initiative and entire disregard of personal safety shown by this very gallant private soldier, was entirely instrumental in enabling his company to advance at a time when any delay would have seriously jeopardised the whole operation in which it was engaged.

Awarded……….V.C.

Tuesday 21st September 1915

Private 16331 Percival Absolon, 11th (Service) Battalion the Worcestershire Regiment.

 Percival attested in September 1914 crossing to France just over a year later. In 1916 he embarked from France to Salonica were he would be wounded in action. Percival survived the war.17

Wednesday 22nd September 1915

Captain John Macgregor V.C., M.C and Bar. D.C.M.

2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles

Born in Cawdor, in Nairnshire Scotland John Macgregor would have made a worthy thane. His mother still lived at Newlands of Murchang, Cawdor, when John served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Prior to the war He had emigrated to Canada where he worked as a carpenter.20

Macgregor was awarded the D.C.M. For an action on the 8th April 1917 during the preliminaries to the Battle of Vimy. 21

The citation for his Distinguished Conduct Medal (awarded when John was a Sergeant) reads:

116031 Sjt. J. MacGregor, Mounted Rifles. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He single-handed captured an enemy machine gun and shot the crew, thereby undoubtedly saving his company from many casualties.

(Supplement 30204 to The London Gazette 24 July 1917 page 7663)

(Supplement 30845 to The London Gazette, 13 August 1918, page 9569.)

John was awarded his Military Cross for two reconnaissance missions on the 28th December 1917, and for his part in a trench raid on the 12th January 1918. 22

The Citation for his Military Cross reads:

Lt. John Macgregor, D.C.M., Mtd. Rif. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Whilst he was assembling his men prior to a raid, the enemy bombed the trench. He, however, changing his point of attack, led his men over the wire into the enemy’s trench, and successfully dealt with the garrison of the trench and three concrete dug-outs, himself capturing one prisoner. He then withdrew his party and his prisoner successfully to our trenches. Before the raid, he, together with a serjeant, had made several skilful and daring reconnaissance along the enemy wire, which materially assisted in the success of the enterprise.

The citation for the award of the Victoria Cross:

T./Capt. John MacGregor, M.C., D.C.M., 2nd C.M.R. Bn., 1st Central Ontario Regiment. For most conspicuous bravery, leadership and self-sacrificing devotion to duty near Cambrai from 29th September to 3rd October 1918. He led his company under intense fire, and when the advance was checked by machine guns, although wounded, pushed on and located the enemy guns. He then ran forward in broad daylight, in face of heavy fire from all directions, and. with rifle and bayonet, single-handed, put the enemy crews out of action, killing four and taking eight prisoners. His prompt action saved many casualties and enabled the advance to continue. After reorganising his command under heavy fire he rendered most useful support to neighbouring troops. When the enemy were showing stubborn resistance, he went along the line regardless of danger, organised the platoons, took command of the leading waves, and continued the advance. Later, after a personal daylight reconnaissance under heavy fire, he established his company in Neuville St. Remy, thereby greatly assisting the 

advance into Tilloy. Throughout the operations Capt. MacGregor displayed magnificent bravery and heroic leadership.

(The Edinburgh Gazette .10 January 1919, No. 13384 page 200) 23

The citation for the bar to his Military Cross reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and leadership from 5th to 8th November 1918, at Quievrain and Quievrechain. Through his initiative, the bridges over the Honnelle River were secured. His personal reconnoissances and the information he derived from them were of great use to his commanding officer. His prompt action in seizing the crossings over the river did much -towards the final rout of the enemy.

(Supplement 31680 to the London Gazette, 9 December 1919, page15312)

John Macgregor died in British Columbia on the 9th June 1952.

This blog is an extract from notesI am compiling about the soldiers who crossed from Folkestone to France 1915-1919.

 Miles,  from VC.org.

17 Percival Absolon’s Army Pension Records.

20 John Macgregor’s Service Record.

IWW in 3 Minutes Continued, Joan of Arc,

“Joan Of Arc”

Now the flames they followed Joan of Arc
as she came riding through the dark;
no moon to keep her armour bright,
no man to get her through this very smoky night.
She said, “I’m tired of the war,
I want the kind of work I had before,
a wedding dress or something white
to wear upon my swollen appetite.”
Well, I’m glad to hear you talk this way,
you know I’ve watched you riding every day
and something in me yearns to win
such a cold and lonesome heroine.
“And who are you?” she sternly spoke
to the one beneath the smoke.
“Why, I’m fire,” he replied,
“And I love your solitude, I love your pride.”

“Then fire, make your body cold,
I’m going to give you mine to hold,”
saying this she climbed inside
to be his one, to be his only bride.
And deep into his fiery heart
he took the dust of Joan of Arc,
and high above the wedding guests
he hung the ashes of her wedding dress.

It was deep into his fiery heart
he took the dust of Joan of Arc,
and then she clearly understood
if he was fire, oh then she must be wood.
I saw her wince, I saw her cry,
I saw the glory in her eye.
Myself I long for love and light,
but must it come so cruel, and oh so bright? LEONARD COHEN

There are no saints in my belief system. Damn few heroes, and they are all dead. So the idea of a saint for a war is a bit strange to say the least. Joan of Arc was about to enter the fire for the second time. The Battles raged over some of the area she had fought against the English on. The smoke and fire could still be seen generations later. Joan was in the heart of the fiery body. Her ashes would once more be scattered over the battlefields of France. Joan wold be hailed as the saviour of France once more. She would appear on posters in Britain and the USA. After the war Joan would be declared Patron of the Great War. But it was not her who saved France, it was Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain at Verdun, Foch, Haig, the hairy ones-the Poilu at the Meuse, Tommy Atkins on the Somme and at Amiens, the ANZACS at Pozieres and Le Quesnoy, the Canadians the Doughboys in the Argonne. Black Jack, Jack Cornwell at Jutland and millions of others in places long since forgotten who saved France. War you were the fire, but Joan you were not the wood.

IWW, Folkestone, soldiers stories.

Folkestone was a busy place during the Great War. Soldiers arriving on leave. soldiers going to the trenches, some were returning from leave others crossing for the first time. Some of their stories are well known. Haig’s story, Filip Konowal the only Ukrainian VC, Sgt Charles Mackenzie the only Soldier of the Great War to have a lament written for him. Others are fairly easy to find out about the names in the books signed in the cafe on the mole for example all have traceable stories. Yet more are unknown, the known unknowns, vanished without trace, or forgotten faces in old sepia non-colourised photographs. A few leave behind a hint of a story, something about them that leaves a wish for more to be found out. Mostly rogues, after all to live a peaceful, dull, boring life is, well, boring. One such character is Kenneth Drysdale Leslie.

What is known about Kenneth is he was in Folkestone on the 7th July 1918, on his way home after being dismissed from the army.

Kenneth was born in London on 15th December 1886 and educated at Uppingham. It is known he enlisted as a Private in September 1914 and promotion was rapid. So it can be assumed he was a good soldier. He applied and got a commission in 1916. Lt Leslie returned to the front in July 1916 shortly after the start of the Battle of the Somme. Invalided home with a hernia he was briefly hospitalised. Posted to Dublin in March 1917 Kenneth found himself again in hospital, this time with syphilis and gonorrhoea. February 1918 he was found fit for general service and back at the front. The 21st June 1918 found him in front of a General Court Martial on a charge of drunkenness. Dismissed from the army he returned home via Boulogne and Folkestone on the 7th July.

Dismissal was not a get out clause for officers. after being dismissed from the army they were liable to conscription, and so it was for Kenneth. He was conscripted to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. It is known that he survived the war. What is known about him after that is nothing. Hopefully someone does know what happened to him and his story is now a family tale. He seemed a bit of a rogue, and rogues outlive themselves.

What’s it all about Alfie 1WW in 3 Minutes continued.

“What’s it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give” BACHARACH/DAVID/BASTOS RIBEIRO

This, is what it is all about when I am left in peace.

A.comparison between Henry Wade’s Surgical Car, it use by the Scottish Horse at Gallipoli, the development of the idea and use by the Australians in the Campaign in Palestine up to, and including, the capture of Jerusalem , with the then standard model of evacuation and surgical treatment of the wounded. The time period covered is the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, Murray’s and Allenby’s campaign from the Canal to Jerusalem in 1917. Wade’s Surgical Car was conceived in the South African Wars during the late 19th century, early 20th century. although it took the outbreak of the Great War to get one built by Wolseley the car makers. This car was taken to Gallipoli by Wade and the Scottish Horse. following the evacuation from the peninsular the car was shipped to Cairo. Wade was promoted to Assistant Director of Medical Services Egyptian Expeditionary Force, and the car was given to the Australians. the Australians liked the idea of a mobile surgical unit, but preferred Ford vehicles to the Wolseley. The pneumatic tyres on Fords were better suited to driving in the desert than the solid tyres of the Wolseley. The Wolseley did however continue in service, and was last known to be still in service in 1919. The thesis may end at December 1917 as the ground can be traced and explored from Kantara, where the car was first based, in Egypt to Jerusalem where Allenby entered in December 1917. The Campaign continued into Syria and onto Damascus, over ground not easily followed at the current time because of the political situation in Syria. Although I hope by this stage in the campaign sufficient comparisons can be drawn, and it would not be necessary to view the ground. The nature of the ground, is important in drawing fair comparison as to the operational capabilities of the various options and units available to Allenby. I have explored the area in modern day Israel. Yet to explore Sinai, but the area is easily accessible if required and the crossing between Egypt to Israel via Gaa is normally open.

The research breaks down to

1) From the Veldt to Gallipoli
The Boer Wars were where Wade formulated the idea for the Surgical cars. Gallipoli was where they were first used. The chapter would touch on the medical and surgical problems faced by the British Army and the Royal Army Medical Services faced regarding the treatment of wounded and or soldiers with diseases during the Anglo- Boer wars, and the solutions the Royal Army Medical Corps and individuals, notably Wade devised.

2) The Palestinian Campaign, A brief guide as to where the Medical Services were throughout the campaign.
To establish a fair basis for comparison the various medical units will be placed in the context of the campaign. Both location and the roles the various Medical Units were assigned and the part they played in the campaign

Bibliography.

Arthur Graham Butler, Official History of the Australian Army Medical Services, 1914–1918 Volume I – Gallipoli, Palestine and New Guinea (2nd edition, 1938) http://www.awm.gov.au/histories/first_world_war/AWMOHWW1/AAMS/Vol1/

John D. Grainger, The Battle for Palestine 1917, The Boydell Press ISBN 978184382638, 2006.

Colonel A.P. Wavell, The Palestine Campaigns, third edition, Constable and CO, London, 1933.

 

3) Standard Egyptian Expeditionary Force Treatment of the Wounded
The system of casualty recovery and transport to the base hospitals

4) The Surgical Cars in the Campaign
By the time of the Capture of Jerusalem there were thirty surgical cars in operational use in the campaign

5) The Australian Advanced Operating Unit
The Australians rejected the idea of a surgical car, and used mobile hospital units consisting of Ford vehicles.

6) Types of wounds and comparisons in treatment and results
How the treatment of, for example, shot gun wounds to the lower limbs were treated
7) Lessons Learned or Ignored.
Could lessons have been learned that would have been useful in later conflicts. Was it not only quicker but better to treat wounded soldiers at the scene of their injuries, or wait until they could be evacuated?

8) Biographical Notes

Brief details of the principle people named including
Col C.J. Storey, Capt Russell VC. MC. RAMC, and Henry Wade

I try to use Tables and compare the types of wounds, recovery rates/deaths in various Field Ambulances Hospitals and the Mobile Units. The aim of the research is:

A)to see if the changes brought in to use since the Anglo-Boer Wars brought about better treatment of the wounded.
B) which of these changes brought about the best/most effective treatment.
C) Could these treatments still be relevant to the modern British Army

and anything else I regard as relevant

Literature

As part of my research I study both recent work such as, Eran Dolev, Allenby’s Military Medicene, life and death in World War 1 Palestine. ISBN 978-1-84511-290-5, Dugald Gardner, Surgeon Scientist, Soldier. The Life and Times of Henry Wade. ISBN 1-85315-661-2.Professor J.C. De Villiers M.D, Healers, Helpers and Hospitals. A history of Military Medicine in the Anglo-Boar War as well as works published at, or close to the events. These include, works by, Major-General Sir W.G. Macpherson, History of the Great War, Medical Services. Volume 3, which deals with the medical services in Egypt,Sinai, and Palestine, and History of the Great War, Medical Services. Volume 4, which deals with Ambulance Transport during the Great War, and Unit/Regimental Diaries at the various National Archives.
Professor J.C. De Villiers M.D, The South African Journal of Military History Vol 6 No.3 ,June 1984. While not and authority on Wade, Professor J.C. De Villiers M.D, of Cape Town, has published extensively on Military Medicine in the Boer Wars, during which Wade formulated his idea for a surgical car.

Suitability as a Researcher.
I am committed, interested, methodical, rigorous. and determined.
Have also spoken to Eran Dolev, very briefly by email. Eran Dolev was a former Surgeon General and Commander of the Israeli Defence Force Medical Corps
and Professor Gardner at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, where Henry Wades papers are kept.

Relationship to published Literature and Current Research.
Over the years the Great War in Palestine, with the possible exception of T.E Lawrence, has been a neglected field of study. The Literature available to the general reader is sparse, and sensationalises the influence of Lawrence. The Thesis would redress some balance to the available literature and add to the historical knowledge of the Great War in relationship to the campaign in Palestine.

Piece of piss really.

Ernest Towse VC. Help with letters home. A reblog from 2014

“THE LONDON GAZETTE, JULY 6, 1900,
War Office, July 6> 1900.
THE Queen has been graciously pleased to signify Her intention to confer the decoration of the
Victoria Cross on the undermentioned Officers, Non-Commissioned Officer, and Trooper whose
claims have been submitted for Her Majesty’s approval, for their conspicuous bravery in South Africa,
as stated against their names :=
Name. Acts of Courage for which recommended.
The Gordon Highlanders
The Royal Fusiliers
(City of London
10th Hussars
Captain
Beckwith
Ernest
Towse”

“On the llth December, 1899, at the°action of Majesfontein,
Captain Towse was brought to notice by his Commanding
Officer for his gallantry and devotion in assisting the late
Colonel Downman, when mortally wounded, in the retirement,
and endeavouring, when close up to the front of the
firing line, to carry Colonel Downman on his back; but
finding this not possible, Captain Towse supported him
till joined by Colour-Sergeant Nelson and Lance-Corporal
Hodgson.
On the 30th April, 1900, Captain Towse, with twelve men,
took up a position on the top of Mount Thaba, far away
from support. A force of about 150 Boers attempted to
seize the same plateau, neither party appearing to see the
other until they were but 100 yards apart. Some of the
Boers then got within 40 yards of Captain Towse and his
party, and called on him to surrender. He at once caused
his men to open fire and remained firing himself until
severely wounded (both eyes shattered), succeeding in
driving off the Boers. The gallantry of this Officer in
vigorously attacking the enemy (for he not only fired, but
charged forward) saved the situation, notwithstanding the
numerical superiority of the Boers.”

Well, that is it, a well deserved VC, poor guy lost both his eyes. That would have been the end of most people’s active lives. Not a lot you can do after that. Certainly, you would not expect to be able to do much in the Great War. However, Ernest Towse was a remarkable man.Being blind was not going to stop him doing his bit. 50 years old at the outbreak of the war Towse became an Honourary Staff Captain. (No pay or allowances) for base hospitals in Belgium and France. He was one of the first Welfare Officers and looked after the comfort and welfare of the wounded. As a result of their wounds, the soldiers were often unable to write. Towse took it upon himself to write letters home for them. Today as part of the centenary many people are researching letters sent home from the front by soldiers and these include typewritten letters from the wounded in the base hospitals. I wonder if these people know, or care, that a lot of these letters were written and typed by a blind 50 plus VC winner from a long forgotten war?