Daily Archives: 8 November, 2009

Victoria Cross Heroes – so near yet so far?

Plenty have people have come close to winning a Victoria Cross over the years, but somehow fallen short of the very exacting criteria. The Victoria Cross is perhaps the hardest of all the Supreme Decorations to win. So few of them have been awarded, especially in recent years. And even more so in recent years, most awards are posthumous.

A lot also depends on how the incident is reported. Firstly, if somebody performs a heroic act, but there are no witnesses, they have almost no chance of being honoured. Secondly, brave acts are reported up the chain of command, and at each stage they can be rejected. A lot depends on HOW senior officers write up a report of an action. On such administrative whims, brave acts can be lionised or forgotten.

There are quite a few well-document cases where men have almost certainly earnt a VC, or come very very close to winning one, but for some reason have missed out.

Blair Mayne DSO and 3 Bars

Blair Mayne DSO and 3 Bars

The most extraordinary has to be Lieutenant-Colonel Blair ‘Paddy’ Mayne. Mayne won 4 Distinguished Service Orders during World War Two, a phenomenal record. Even King George VI asked why Mayne had not been recommended for a VC. His abrasive attitude probably didnt help matters. One VC recommendation was even signed by Montgomery before being rejected at the War Office. In 2005 a petition of over 100 MP’s demanded that Mayne’s Victoria Cross be reinstated posthumously. To this date, however, nothing has been done to recognise this gross injustice.

While it could be argued that a VC should only be awarded for a specifically brave act and not continual bravery, there are precedents. Leonard Cheshire was awarded his VC for his accumulated service throughout the war, as was Guy Gibson – although in Gibson’s case the Dams raid tipped the balance in his favour.

There also plenty of cases of young officers performing very bravely in war, and being given an unusually high award for their rank. This was usually a recognition that they had gone very close to winning the Victoria Cross but for some reason it had been downgraded. Field Marshal Montgomery won the Distinguished Service Order in World War One as a young Lieutenant. The DSO was usually reserved for Officers of Major and above. Lieutenant-General Boy Browning also won a DSO in World War One as a young Lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards.

Lance Corporal Matt Croucher GC

Lance Corporal Matt Croucher GC

In recent years, the George Cross has been instituted for acts of bravey that are not in the face of the enemy. Whilst this is a very noble concept, and especially fitting for civilians, bomb disposal personnel, there are flaws. In modern warfare, especially with IED’s in Afghanistan, the enemy often does not face down our troops. But does this make a brave act any less brave? In 2008 in Afghanistan Royal Marines Reservist Lance-Corporal Matt Croucher saved the lives of his comrades by jumping on a grenade. His rucksack shielded him from the blast. He was initially put forward for a VC, but this was downgraded to a GC as there were no enemy nearby. How some desk wallah felt able to decree that Crouchers actions did not deserve a VC escapes me.

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Site news: Daly History Youtube Channel

Hi all, Just a quick note to introduce you to my new video channel on Youtube.

I will be using it to highlight interesting videos that I find, and also in the near future to upload some videos of my own.

It could be found by clicking the link below, or the one in the sidebar to the right

Daly History Youtube Channel

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Their name liveth for evermore

In memory of all those past, present and future who have lost their lives in combat, those who have served and those who have suffered in war and conflict

When you go home, tell them of us and say:
for your tomorrow, we gave our today

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM

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Victoria Cross Heroes – Rambahadur Limbu VC

Rambahadur Limbu VC

Rambahadur Limbu VC

A lot has been said about the Gurkhas recently. In fact, its almost become trendy to wade into an argument with some kind of pro-Gurkha stance. Even the British National Party have done it. But read up about them, and they’re even more impressive. Fine fellows they are, and we should be under no illusions or take for granted what a fantastic service they have given us for many years. Every account I have ever read praises them no end, and every ex-serviceman I have ever spoken to who has worked with them has nothing but good words to say about Johnny Gurkha. And especially about their fearsome curries. It has been said that ‘If a man says he is not afraid, he is either a lair or a Gurkha’. Not only are they incredible fighters, reportedly their behaviour is exemplary – disciplinary problems in a Gurkha Battalion are non existant. And small and modest men they might be, but it would be a foolhardy person indeed to start trouble in a pub full of Gurkhas.

For a relatively small contingent in the British Army, the Gurkhas have long punched well above their weight when it comes to honours. 16 Gurkhas have won Victoria Crosses, 13 of them native Gurkhas and 3 British officers serving with them. Perhaps the most inspiring story is that of Lance Corporal Rambahadur Limbu, who won his VC in Borneo in 1965, in the war against Communist Guerillas, a kind of war that the Gurkhas excel at time and time again.

“…Leading his support group in the van of the attack he could see the nearest trench and in it a sentry manning a machine gun. Determined to gain first blood he inched himself forward until… he was seen and the sentry opened fire, immediately wounding a man to his right. Rushing forward he reached the enemy trench… and killed the sentry, thereby gaining for the attacking force a foothold on the objective …with a complete disregard for the hail of fire he got together and led his fire group to a better fire position…

…he saw both men of his own group seriously wounded… and… immediately commenced… to rescue his comrades …he crawled forward, in full view of at least two enemy machine gun posts who concentrated their fire on him… but… was driven back by the accurate and intense…fire…After a pause he started again…

Rushing forward he hurled himself on the ground beside one of the wounded and calling for support from two light machine guns…he picked up the man and carried him to safety… Without hesitation he immediately returned… for the other wounded man and carried him back… through he hail of enemy bullets. It had taken twenty minutes to complete this gallant action and the events leading up to it. For all but a few seconds this Non-Commissioned Officer had been moving alone in full view of the enemy and under the continuous aimed fire of their automatic weapons. …His outstanding personal bravery, selfless conduct, complete contempt of the enemy and determination to save the lives of the men of his fire group set an incomparable example and inspired all who saw him

Finally… Lance Corporal Rambahadur was… responsible for killing four more enemy as they attempted to escape…”

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