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The Victoria Cross

Victoria Crosses awarded to members of the 10th Regiment of Foot, the Lincolnshire Regiment & the Royal Anglian Regiment.

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1857 - 2134 Private Denis Dempsey VC

"During the disastrous retreat from Arrah in July 1857, when Mr. Mangles and Mr. McDonell both won the Victoria Cross by acts of heroic devotion, Dempsey was one of the retreating party, and helped to carry Ensign Erskine of his regiment from the pursuing Sepoys. On August 12th 1857, he was the first man to enter the village of Jugdispore under a terrific fire, and further, on March 14th 1858, he carried a bag of powder through fire, and further on March 14th 1858, he carried a bag of powder through a burning village in order to mine a passage in rear of the enemy's position. As the sparks from the burning houses were falling in showers around him, and the path he took was open and exposed to a terrific fire from the enemy, who were behind loop holed walls, his brave act appears all the finer. Dempsey died in Canada January 10th 1886." [Extract from "The British Army and Auxiliary Forces" Colonel C. Cooper King, R.M.A., 1894.]

Dempsey enlisted in the 1st Battalion, 10th (the North Lincolnshire) Regiment of Foot which was in India at the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny in 1857. He was approximately 31 years old when this deed took place, for which he was awarded the VC. The Battalion was stationed at Dinapore, some 650 kilometers north-west of Calcutta. Their duty was to guard the communications line between Calcutta and Delhi and could not be spared to participate in the siege of the capital.

The commander of the garrison at Dinapore, feared trouble from the Sepoys in his area, so on July 25, he decided to disarm them. The Sepoys were not inclined to lay down their arms and instead nearly 2000 of them deserted and marched to Arrah to besiege the garrison there. Four hundred men from the 37th Foot and the 10th Regiment, including Private Denis Dempsey were sent to relieve the besieged town. The Sepoys ambushed them just outside Arrah. The British suffered 50% casualties. As the remainder of the 10th Regiment of Foot retreated back to Dinapore, Private Dempsey courageously took on the task of carrying the severely wounded Ensign Erskine for more than 2 miles. Unfortunately, Erskine died of his wounds.

Two weeks later, on 12th August 1857, the 10th Regiment assaulted the town of Jugdispore. Despite being under heavy fire from the enemy, Dempsey was the first man to enter the town, leading his regiment to a successful attack.

In March 1858, Dempsey and the 10th Regiment formed part of the 20,000 reinforcements arriving at Lucknow with Sir Colin Campbell. They planned to attack Lucknow from the east with 4 divisions against the three defensive lines of the enemy (estimated at 100,000 men). The assault on Lucknow began on 1st March and continued for over two weeks.

In order to keep casualties down and yet continue to advance through the city, the British artillery blasted their way through buildings and walls. The black powder they used was carried forward under difficult circumstances as sparks from the burning buildings floated through the area and settled on the powder bags.

On 14th March Private Denis Dempsey was assigned the task of carrying a powder bag through a burning village. The plan was to blast a hole behind the enemy position. Dempsey made his way through the burning buildings with the powder bag, ignoring the hot sparks settling around him and the bullets from enemy sharpshooters. For this action, and the other acts of bravery mentioned above, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. Two days later 20,000 mutineers escaped from Lucknow, leaving the city in British hands. The efforts of the army now turned to pacification of the area and the hunting down of the remaining rebels.

In 1859 Dempsey and the 10th Regiment returned to England after 16 years in India. Over the next few years Dempsey saw service in Ireland, the Cape Colony in South Africa, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. In 1877 the Regiment returned to England where they stayed for the next 18 years.

Denis Dempsey left the army and moved to Canada, settling in Toronto where he died on January 10, 1886 at the age of 60. He was buried in St. Michael's Cemetery in Toronto. His medals, which include the Victoria Cross and the Indian Mutiny Medal with Lucknow bar, are not publicly held.

[Thanks to Bill Sylvester for permission to use his research on Denis Dempsey: Bill's article on Denis Dempsey at]

1857 - Private John Kirk VC

  • Born: 18th July 1827.
  • Regiment: 10th Regiment of Foot (later the Lincolnshire Regiment).
  • VC won: 4th June 1857.
  • London Gazette Issue 22347 published on the 20 January 1860. Page 179.
  • Died: 30th August 1865
  • Grave: Anfield Cemetery, Liverpool, England.
  • Location of VC: Lincolnshire Regimental Collection, Museum of Lincolnshire Life, The Old Barracks, Burton Road, Lincoln, England.

On June 4th 1857, John Kirk was associated with Sergeant-Major Rosamond VC and Gill VC. At Benares, when the mutineers massacred so many Europeans, John Kirk and his comrades rescued Captain Brown and his family, bringing them to safety.

Kirk's Victoria Cross is in the United Service Institute, London. [Extract from "The British Army and Auxiliary Forces" Colonel C. Cooper King, R.M.A., 1894.]

Kirk died in Liverpool, aged 38.

Citation for the Victoria Cross

  • For daring gallantry shown at Benares, India, Private Kirk, on 4th June 1857, volunteered along with Sergeant-Major [Peter] Gill and Sergeant-Major [Matthew] Rosamund to rescue the Pension Paymaster, Captain Brown and his family, who were surrounded by rebels in the compound of their bungalow. He succeeded, at the risk of his own life, in helping to rescue them.

1857 - Lieutenant (Lieutenant General) Sir Henry Marshman Havelock-Allan VC GCB

Havelock was born in Chinsurah, Bengal, of a soldiering family, he was 26 years old and serving as a lieutenant with the 10th Regiment (later The Lincolnshire Regiment) when he performed the deeds for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Havelock was created a baronet in 1858 and attained the rank of Lieutenant General. He was killed in action during the Afridi Campaign near Rawalpindi on India's Northwest Frontier in what is now Pakistan.

Citation for the Victoria Cross

  • "On 16 July 1857 at Cawnpore, India, the 64th Regiment had suffered badly under artillery fire. When the enemy was seen rallying their last 24-pounder, the order was given to advance, and Lieutenant Havelock immediately placed himself, on his horse, in front of the centre of the 64th, opposite the muzzle of the gun and moved on at a foot pace, in the face of shot and grape fired by the enemy. The advance went steadily on, led by the lieutenant and finally the gun was rushed and taken by the 64th."

Medal entitlement of Lieutenant General Sir Henry Marshman Havelock-Allan - 10th Regiment:

1915 - Captain (Brigadier) Percy Howard Hansen VC DSO & Bar MC CdeG (Fr)

Percy Howard Hansen was Danish. He is one of only fourteen men not born British or Commonwealth citizens to have received the Victoria Cross. He was 24 years old, and a Captain in the 6th Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment, during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC. On 9 August 1915 at Yilghin Bumu, Gallipoli, Turkey, Captain Hansen's battalion was forced to retire leaving some wounded behind, because of the intense heat from the scrub which had been set on fire. Dissatisfied with this situation, Captain Hansen, with three or four volunteers dashed forward several times over 300-400 yards of open scrub and succeeded in rescuing six wounded men from inevitable death by burning. Hansen served in Second World War. He later achieved the rank of Brigadier.

The following extract is from a letter written by soldier of the 6th Lincolns to the "Gainsborough News" and was sent to us by Peter Bradshaw of Gainsborough.

19.11.15:   &nabp; "We made this fresh landing on Aug. 7th, and we took a hill they call Hill C. On the way to this hill we were in open country for one-and –half miles, with the Turks firing on all sides, and I can tell you by the time we got to the top we had left a lot on the field. You could not wonder at it for their artillery was shelling us for all they was worth, and the bullets came as if it was raining them. But we had a captain in front of us leading the way with the nerve of a lion, and that put life into us. We had to dig ourselves in to keep the Turks back, and some of us rested for a time. But not for long. The word was passed down to get ready, and when it was breaking day off we went to take a hill they call Hill W., and that is where we got cut up, and not half. We lost about 610 in four hours, and the sights I saw I cannot describe. The lads kept going on and they were falling all round. I was close against my officer when he got shot. It took half his head off and we were not long before we had lost all our officers but Captain Hansen. I expect you have heard about him getting the V.C. He got it at the bottom of the hill. When we had to retire to a trench we left a lot of wounded, and the Hill was on fire, so the Captain and some of the men went out and got some of them in. When we counted up there were 29 of us left, but we stuck to it till we got reinforcements. Then we went back for a time for a rest, and that is the time I saw the lads from Gainsborough, so we had a few words about the old town, but the same night we had to go in the trenches again. I have not seen any more of them since, but I read about them getting wounded in the 'News'. We have all had to fight hard all along the line, and we still keep taking a trench from the Turks. Up to the time of writing we have kept all of them. I was in good hopes of being home for Christmas, but I have let that drop, for it is not over yet by a long way, for the Turks have got such good positions on top of the hills. They are as steep as Pingle Hill, so you can see we have something to do yet to get this lot over. I see by the reading of the 'News' that some are missing, but I think that they got out and were taken prisoners. I could not say truly, but I hope that it is so for they threat all British pretty good. Still we shall have to wait and see."

The "lads from Gainsborough" were some Sherwood Rangers. "Pingle Hill" is a well know steep footpath in Gainsborough which goes up to the top of the ridge overlooking the town.

1915 - 7942 Acting Corporal (Master Sergeant) Charles Richard Sharpe VC

The full story of Charles Sharpe's bravery, is told in 'The History of the Lincolnshire Regiment 1914 to 1918', and 'VCs of the First World War - the Western Front 1915' by Peter F. Batchelor and Christopher Matson.

Charles "Shadder" Sharpe was a farmer's boy from Pickworth, near Bourne, who ran away from home and joined the army. At the age of 16 he served with the 2nd Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment, in Bermuda (before the war), arriving on the Western Front on 6th November 1914. On 9th May 1915, at the age of 26, Cpl "Shadder" Sharpe found himself at Aubers Ridge, Rouges Bancs, France. By 1915, the German and the Anglo-French armies in France had reached stalemate. The trenches stretched for hundreds of miles - both forces had dug systems of trenches and earthworks to protect themselves from machine-gun fire and indiscriminate shelling. On May 9th 1915, Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig planned to attack the German lines both north and south of Neuve Chapelle, after a 40 minute artillery bombardment.

The northern part of the assault would involve the 25th Infantry Brigade of the 8th Division, which included the 2nd Lincolnshire Battalion's four companies. By 2am, the 25th Brigade was lined up in assembly trenches opposite a section of enemy line. At 5am the artillery guns opened fire, pounding German defences and blowing wire entanglements apart. The guns ceased fire at 5.40am and two companies of the 2nd Lincolns advanced towards the village of Rouges Bancs, close behind the Royal Irish Rifles and the 2nd Rifle Brigade. German artillery opened fire on the advancing troops, and they were subjected to a storm of machine gun and rifle fire from both flanks. The two leading formations suffered heavy losses.

Survivors of the 2nd Lincolns and Irish Rifles reached the village, pushing past it en route to their ultimate objective of the road beyond. The Lincolns reached the German breastwork defences, but found further advance impossible as they suffered under a withering hail of fire. As the news of these casualties reached Brigadier-General Lowry Cole, he ordered the last two companies of the Lincolns, including Cpl Sharpe, to cross no-man's-land toward the Irish Rifles' position. He had hardly given the order when a number of men of the Rifle Brigade and Irish Rifles were seen streaming back over the German breastwork - bringing with them the other two companies of the 2nd Lincolnshires. The situation became confused as German prisoners who were also running for cover in the British lines were mistaken for a counter-attack.

Lowry Cole mounted the British breastwork and succeeded in turning the troops. Standing on the parapet, he was mortally wounded. The Lincolns moved forwards and began attacking using hand-bombs. Cpl Charles Sharpe was in charge of a bombing party sent forward to take a section of a German trench. According to the London Gazette of June 29,1915,

  • "he was the first to reach the enemy's position and using bombs with great determination and effect, he himself cleared them out of a trench 50 yards long.
  • By this time all his party had fallen and he was then joined by four other men, with whom he attacked the enemy again with bombs, and captured a further trench 250 yards long".

For brave leadership, he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Despite Sharpe's efforts, and those of his comrades, all British troops were withdrawn from the German lines after dark, their positions having become untenable. Sharpe received his Victoria Cross from the King at Windsor Castle on July 24. He returned to France after the presentation and soon afterwards was badly injured by a bomb. He was invalided out and did not serve overseas again. He left the Army in 1928 with the rank of Master Sgt Cook. He worked for a while as assistant garden instructor at an approved school - Hereward Camp - in Bourne. When this closed he "went to work on the local council's ashcart," said Sharpe himself, "but that was considered the wrong job for a VC, so I finished my working life as a labourer and cleaner for the British Racing Motors". For years, Sharpe tended Bourne's war memorial gardens, and was well known in the town for always wearing his Regimental tie.

"Shadder" Sharpe died at Workington, in 1963, aged 75 and is buried at Newport Cemetary, Lincoln.

The medals on display at the Regimental Collection, Museum of Lincolnshire Life, Lincoln are not Sharpe's originals. His VC and other medals were purchased by South Kesteven District Council at Christie's auction rooms in London for £17,000 in 1989 and are on display in the Mayor's Parlour in Grantham.

1918 - 41788 Corporal (Sergeant) Arthur Evans VC DCM

Arthur Evans was a 27 year old Lance-Sergeant in the 6th Battalion, the Lincolnshire Regiment, during the First World War. Evans was originally awarded the Victoria Cross under the assumed name of "Walter Simpson".

On leaving school, Evans went to work in an office. He left the office to join the Royal Navy as a stoker, but was discharged (as an invalid) due to an accident. He joined the Merchant Navy, shipped out to America, jumped ship, and supposedly was a supervisor of a crew working on the Panama Canal. He explored South America with a couple of friends, but caught malaria and then made his way to Cuba and the United States. Evans earned passage back to England on a four-mast sailing ship that took a year for the journey, going by way of Australia. For some unknown reason, about this time he changed his name to Walter Simpson and using this name, in May 1914, he joined the 1st King's Liverpool Regiment. Simpson (Evans) saw service in the Retreat from Mons and in the First Battle of Ypres, then either transferred to or possibly deserted from the 1st Kings right before they left for the Middle East, as his next unit was the 6th Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment. He earned the VC for action near Etaing in France.

His Medal Record card shows that Arthur Evans served overseas first as a Lance Corporal with the King's Liverpool Regiment (L/Cpl 11930), then as a Sergeant with the Lincolnshire Regiment (Sjt 41788). Finally he was a Sergeant with 243rd Training Reserve Battalion (20353). He first arrived in France on 12 August 1914.

Medal entitlement for: Sergeant Arthur Evans VC

Citation for the Victoria Cross:

  • "For most conspicuous bravery and initiative when with a daylight patrol sent out to reconnoitre and to gain touch with a neighbouring division. When [the patrol was] on the west bank of [the] river an enemy machine-gun post was sighted on the east bank. The river being too deep to force, Sergt. Simpson volunteered to swim across, and having done so, crept up alone in rear of the machine-gun post. He shot the sentry and also a second enemy who ran out; he then turned back and caused four to surrender. A crossing over the river was subsequently found, the officer and one man of his patrol joined him, and reconnaissance was continued along the river bank. After proceeding some distance, machine-gun and rifle fire was opened on the patrol, and the officer was wounded. In spite of the fact that no cover was available, Sergt. Simpson succeeded in covering the withdrawal of the wounded officer under most dangerous and difficult conditions and under heavy fire. The success of the patrol, which cleared up a machine-gun post on the flank of the attacking troops of a neighbouring division and obtained an identification, was greatly due the very gallant conduct of Sergt. Simpson."

The announcement of the award of the VC to "Simpson" was initially published in October 1918. [I am told that it was subsequently republished under the name Arthur Evans in March 1919, but I was unsuccessful in locating this reference in the London Gazette of 1919 - Al.]

There are conflicting accounts of his life post-war, one version having him emigrating to Australia to escape the long arm of the law. He did enlist in the Australian Army and served with the Tank Corps for two and a half years, but was invalided out due to the after-effects of being gassed in WWI. He passed away at the Repatriation Hospital in Sydney at the age of 45 and he was cremated in Sydney.

Gunner A.P. Sullivan V.C. bringing home the ashes of Sergt. Arthur Evans, is greeted by Mr. W. Ratcliffe of the British Legion

In November 1936 the Australian Government, as a tribute of respect to Evans' fighting record, arranged for his ashes to be borne back to his native land. They were placed in the personal charge of Corporal Sullivan VC because of his close friendship with the dead man. Sullivan's duty was to hand the ashes to his friend's relatives for burial in the grave of a soldier brother in England. On disembarkment at Tilbury, Corporal Sullivan went to St. Annes-on-Sea and placed the urn in the headquarters of the St. Annes-on-Sea branch of the British Legion, where it lay until handed over to Evans' surviving brother. The ashes of Arthur Evans, carried by two members of the British Legion and followed by his four relatives, were interred at Lytham St. Annes Park Cemetery with the remains of his stepbrother. His sad duty fulfilled, Sullivan returned to London, whilst waiting for passage back to Australia, tragically; on 9 April 1937, Sullivan was involved in an accident in which he fell while walking to his quarters. He was taken to hospital but died soon after from head injuries sustained in the accident. Sullivan was accorded a full military funeral in London. His ashes were returned to Sydney. Sullivan's Victoria Cross is displayed in the Australian War Memorial Hall of Valour.


This photograph together with a short note (below) was recieved by the Editor in December 2009.

"I'm living in Valenciennes (France) and I have a photograph showing the King George V presenting a medal to Sergent Arthur Evans in Valenciennes on December 3; 1918 (the legend do not say what medal). Is it possible that he was the sergeant of yours?
Alain Dubois."

Click picture to enlarge

1944 - 71106 Acting Major Charles Ferguson Hoey VC MC

Charles Ferguson Hoey was a Canadian. He was 29 years old, and a Temporary Major in the 1st Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment, during the Second World War. He went to England in April 1933 with the intention of making the army his career. He first enlisted in the West Kent Regiment, won a cadetship to the Royal Military College at Sandhurst and went there in September 1935. He graduated from Sandhurst in December 1936 and, after a brief visit home to Duncan, joined the 2nd Battalion, the Lincolnshire Regiment. He transferred to the 1st Battalion of the Lincolnshires, and sailed to India in September 1937. He went to Burma with the 1st Battalion in 1942 and served there until his death in February 1944. He was awarded the Military Cross in July 1943 for his outstanding service at Maungdaw during a raid on a Japanese position. On 16 February 1944 near the Ngakyedauk Pass, Arakan, Burma (now Myanmar), Major Hoey's company came under devastating machine-gun fire, but Major Hoey did not waver in his advance on the objective. Although wounded in the head and leg he went forward alone and tackled a troublesome enemy strong point, destroying it and killing all the occupants, but he was mortally wounded.

Citation for the Military Cross:

  • "On the 5th July; 1943, Major Hoey was in charge of a force sent to raid Maungdaw, Burma. Throughout the raid he showed outstanding powers of leadership and though delayed by several accidents on the way, succeeded in getting his force into Maungdaw and inflicting casualties on the enemy. Throughout the operation he showed a complete disregard for his personal safety and remained completely imperturbable in face of all difficulties and dangers. His personal example was an inspiration to all his men and contributed to a great extent to the success of the operation. The force succeeded in hitting at least 22 Japanese for certain. The majority of these were killed. Owing to the skilful handling of his force, Major Hoey only sustained three casualties, of other ranks, wounded. Major Hoey's determination, courage and skill during the whole of the operation were beyond praise."

Citation for the Victoria Cross:

  • "In BURMA, on the 16th February, 1944, Major Hoey's company formed part of a force which was ordered to capture a position at all costs. After a night march through enemy-held territory, the force was met at the foot of the position by machine gun fire. Major Hoey personally led his company under heavy machine gun and rifle fire up to the objective. Although wounded at least twice in the leg and head, he seized a Bren gun from one of his men and, firing from the hip, led his company into the objective. In spite of his wounds the company had difficulty in keeping up with him, and Major Hoey reached the enemy strong post first, where he killed all the occupants before being mortally wounded. Major Hoey's outstanding gallantry and leadership, his total disregard of personal safety and his grim determination to reach the objective resulted in the capture of this vital position."

Major Hoey was one of only two Canadians to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the War against Japan.

An altar rail in Saint George's Chapel, Lincoln Cathedral is in memory of Major C.F. Hoey VC MC and Captain J. Brunt VC MC.

The photograph below is Kate Middleton in St George's Chapel, Lincoln Cathedral in Summer 2009. Kate is the granddaughter of JTS Hoey, Croix de Guerre, who was the uncle of Major Charles Ferguson Hoey MC VC. Please visit her website about JTS Hoey:

1944 - 258297 Captain John Henry Cound Brunt VC MC

On leaving school, John Brunt joined the army, training as a Private with the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment in 1941. He got his commission on 2 January 1943 and was posted to North Africa. Although he was commissioned in the Sherwood Foresters, he never served with them, instead being posted to the 6th Battalion, Royal Lincolnshire Regiment, having become friendly with Captain Alan Money, an officer in the Lincolns, on the boat to Africa. On 9 September 1943, the 6th Battalion landed at Salerno (Italy) and Lieutenant Brunt was given command of No.9 Platoon in A Company. The unit subsequently moved South East to establish a base in a farm near the river Asa.

On 9 December 1944, Captain Brunt's platoon was dug-in around a house near Faenza, Italy. At dawn, the German 90th Panzer Division counter-attacked the British forward position in great strength with tanks and infantry. The house that Brunt's platoon were holding was completely destroyed by mortar fire. Switching to another position, Captain Brunt held back the enemy although he and his men were outnumbered by at least three to one. His wireless set was destroyed by shell-fire, but on receiving a message, by runner, to withdraw his platoon to a safe position, he remained behind to give covering fire. When his Bren ammunition ran out, he fired a Piat and 2 in. Mortar, abandoned by casualties, before sprinting over open ground to the new position himself. This aggressive defence caused the enemy to pause, giving Brunt time to take a party back to his previous position, and although fiercely engaged by small arms fire, they rescued the wounded that had been left behind.

During a battle with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Herman Goering PanzerGrenadier Regiment, on 15th December 1943, Brunt earned the Military Cross for his part in rescuing a wounded soldier.

After resting in Syria and Egypt, John Brunt returned to Italy on 3 July 1944, having been promoted to temporary Captain and second in command of "D" Company. By early December 1944, the regiment was operating near Ravenna fighting German troops who were retreating North through Italy.

Later in the day, the enemy mounted a counter-attack from two sides. Captain Brunt immediately seized a Bren gun, leapt on a Sherman tank and ordered the tank commander to drive from one fire position to another, whilst he sat, or stood, on the turret, directing fire at the advancing enemy, regardless of the hail of small arms fire. Then, seeing some of the enemy, who were armed with bazookas, trying to approach round the left flank, he jumped off the tank and stalked them front of the Company positions, killing more and causing the enemy to withdraw.

Captain Brunt survived the battle but was killed by mortar fire on the following day. He had celebrated his 22nd birthday just four days before.

John Brunt's parents lived in Paddock Wood, near Tunbridge Wells. On 3 September 1947 the 'Kent Arms' public house in Paddock Wood, Kent, was renamed the 'John Brunt VC' in his honour.

Medal entitlement for: 258297 Captain John Henry Cound Brunt VC MC

New Sign for the 'John Brunt VC' Public House

The 'John Brunt VC' public house in Church Street, Paddock Wood, Kent started out as the 'Kent Arms'. In 1947 the pub changed its name to the 'John Brunt VC' but was changed again in 1997 to 'The Hopping Hooden Horse' and the original sign went missing.

After much campaigning by local residents, the pub reverted back to the John Brunt VC in 2001 but it never had its swinging pub sign replaced.

Eventually, donations from the Royal Lincolnshire and Royal Anglian Regimental Association, The Royal Anglian Regiment, Kent County Council and Paddock Wood Town Council, contributed to the cost of a new sign being designed, made and installed. Alex Atkinson, a former 6th form art student at Mascalls School, Paddock Wood, agreed to design the new sign, and the unveiling ceremony was carried out by a boyhood friend of John Brunt, Eric Knight, on Remembrance Sunday - 9th November 2008.

John Brunt VC Public House, 24 Church Road, Paddock Wood, Tunbridge, ME15 6ET.

Recommended reading; 'All for Valour - The Story of Captain John Brunt VC MC' by Richard Snow (1996).