I think I may well have found Portsmouth’s most highly decorated twentieth century serviceman. And his story is quite a tale.
Richard ‘Dick’ Worrall was born in 1890, in Woolwich, the son of Richard and Annie Worrall. At some point between then and 1914 he ended up in Canada, for his wife was Lorraine Mae Worrall of Crescent Street, Montreal. We next find him as a Sergeant in the 14th Battalion of the Canadian Infantry, being awarded the Cross of St George fourth class, a Russian decoration. Secondary evidence has confirmed that was indeed commissioned from the ranks.
By January 1917 he had evidently been promoted, as the London Gazette referred to him as a Captain. In June 1918 he was a temporary Major and an acting Lieutenant-Colonel, commanding a Battalion – at the age of 27. I know that he was awarded both of his DSO‘s during the last few months of the war, commanding the 14th Canadian Infantry on the Western Front. The second DSO in particular has a fascinating citation:
On 1st September, 1918, for conspicuous gallantry during the attack on the Crow’s Nest and Hendecourt Chateau Woods while in command of his battalion. He advanced his line half a mile, and under heavy fire maintained his position all day. The following day, though his left was exposed to withering machine-gun and artillery fire, he captured a village, taking prisoners a whole battalion. Still pushing on, he took the final objective, and established his position, having advanced some 5,000 yards from the jumping off line. He displayed fine courage and leadership.
Such a citation is unusually detailed for the First World War. During the war Worrall was also mentioned in despatches. He was decorated a remarkble total of six times, excluding campaign medals.
Sadly, Worrall died on 15 February 1920. He was just 29. He is buried in Mount Royal Cemetery in Montreal.
And so, I enter the unknown world of emigration records, and Canadian Genealogy!