First World War in the News is an edited review of hand-picked World War I (1914-1918) articles - covering everything from the soldiers and generals to the trenches and militaria.

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World War II

Victoria Cross Medal

Latest hand-picked First World War news.

Victoria Cross won by dying soldier who manned a machine gun despite being shot in the head is sold for £276,000
The first Victoria Cross to have been awarded to a private in the First World War was sold at auction for 276,000. Private Sidney Godley "set the standard for the British Tommy" when he took a machine gun from a severely wounded officer and despite shrapnel wounds and a bullet lodged in his skull continued to hold his position alone for two hours against German assault. When he was ordered to withdraw, Private Godley, then 25, maintained a covering fire until the entire battalion was evacuated, but was overpowered by the enemy and taken as a POW.

Fisherman Joseph Watt's Victoria Cross sold for £204,000 at Spink auction
A fisherman's medals including a Victoria Cross have sold for 204,000. Joseph Watt, who skippered out of Fraserburgh, is believed to be the only Scottish fisherman ever to be awarded the medal. He refused to surrender when his boat was engaged by an enemy cruiser while mine sweeping in the Adriatic during the First World War.

Private Henry Dalziel's Victoria Cross medal to go up for auction
The 1000th Victoria Cross granted to a Commonwealth serviceman will be auctioned off November 2010 as a part of a set of 6 military medals. Henry Dalziel won the VC for his fearless actions: "I dashed at it killing 7 Germans with my two revolvers. One German bloodhound wounded me... but ... I lunged at him with my German dagger."

Rare Victoria Cross memorabilia on display at the Royal Engineers Museum, Gillingham
Rare memorabilia belonging to Victoria Cross recipients is being shown for the first time as part of a new exhibition celebrating war heroes. Swords, pistols and letters of the Britain's bravest warriors will be displayed next to their 25 Victoria Cross medals at the Royal Engineers Museum, Gillingham. The Valour exhibition will be opened on Nov. 11, 2010, as part of the Remembrance Day commemorations. Assistant curator Amy Adams hopes never-before-seen militaria would draw people in: "We have 25 Victoria Crosses on display at the museum, but people often just walk straight past them."

Canadian War Museum lands two more Victoria Crosses won by Canadians
A year after a controversial auction in which the federal government spend $300,000 to prevent a historic Victoria Cross from leaving the country, the Canadian War Museum has quietly gained 2 more of the desired military medals, including another of the storied "Valour Road" VCs granted to 3 World War I soldiers from the same street in Winnipeg. Both medals - Cpl. Leo Clarke's VC from the 1916 Battle of the Somme and Lieut. John Mahony's VC from the Italian campaign of 1944 - were received as donations at a time when such militaria are in hot demand among collectors, selling at auction for hundreds of thousands.

Gallipoli Victoria Cross medals tour Australia: "This company of brave men - the Gallipoli VCs"
The Australian War Memorial has announced an unique travelling exhibition of medals to mark the 95th anniversary of the landing of Gallipoli. 9 Victoria Crosses, the highest decoration given to a soldier for acts of courage on the battlefield, will tour Australia and give people the chance to learn about Gallipoli, and the acts of bravery that led to the medals being awarded.

Lord Ashcroft pays record price, nearly £1.5 million, for the only double Victoria Cross from the Great War
The "ultimate" gallantry medal the only double Victoria Cross from the Great War has been purchased by Lord Ashcroft for a world record price of almost 1.5 million pounds. Captain Noel Chavasse - who served with the Royal Army Medical Corps, attached to the 10th King's (Liverpool Scottish) Regiment - was granted the second of his VCs during the third Battle of Ypres. After receiving a skull wound he still went, time and again, into no-man's-land to search for and attend the wounded. At least 12 memorials have been set up worldwide in his honour. Only 3 VCs and Bar (or double VCs) have been awarded since the medal was created by Queen Victoria in 1856.

Medal set including Victoria Cross sold to Canadian War Museum for $240,000
Fears that a Victoria Cross medal belonging to a Canadian war hero would be auctioned off to a private militaria collector were over when the Canadian War Museum purchased it and 8 other medals for $240,000. The set of 9 medals includes the Victoria Cross granted to Lt.-Col. Robert Shankland, a member of the 43rd Infantry Battalion of the Cameron Highlanders of Canada, after he led attacks against the Germans in Passchendaele, Belgium, during the Great War. "The story of this great Canadian and his contribution to our history deserves to be preserved in our national military museum," said Mark O'Neill, the museum's director general.

Herbert James's Victoria Cross medal to be sold at auction
The Victoria Cross granted to Lieutenant Herbert James for his bravery during the Gallipoli campaign will be going under the hammer. His acts of bravery at Gallipoli in 1915, which included him leading two successful counterattacks with next to no cover, after the failure of a major assault, led to him being awarded the Victoria Cross. A few days later, during a heavy bombardment, he saved a wounded colleague found lying among a heap of dead soldiers. He also secured the trench with a temporary defence of sand bags and dead bodies, to hold back the attacking Turks.

Australian Victoria Cross medal expected to top $749,000   (Article no longer available from the original source)
A Victoria Cross awarded to an Australian digger on the bloody World War I battlefields of France will be the heart of $5 million auction at Sotheby's Connoisseur's Autumn Collection. The medal, the Commonwealth's highest military honour, was the last to be presented on an Australian soldier during WWI. Lieutenant George Mawby Ingram was granted the VC for "most conspicuous bravery and initiative" in the battle of Montbrehain on the Western Front, on October 5, 1918. On the day Montbrehain fell, Ingram led his battalion to seize 9 enemy positions, and single-handedly capturing a garrison of 30 men.

The last Victoria Cross awarded in WWI to an Australian will be auctioned   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The last Victoria Cross granted during the First World War to an Australian will be auctioned off in Melbourne. Lieutenant George Ingram's Victoria Cross medal will be auctioned with an estimated value of $400,000 - $600,000. Considered the highest award for wartime bravery, Ingram got his Victoria Cross for his actions at Montbrehain, France - the last battle the Australian Imperial Force was involved in WW1. "He showed a most inspiring example of courage and leadership and freely exposed himself regardless of danger," the citation said.

Forgotten WWI Victoria Cross heroes remembered - Samuel Pearse, Richard Wain
Two "forgotten" WW1 heroes who both came from the same south Wales town and were both granted the Victoria Cross are at last to be remembered with a special plaque. Sergeant Samuel Pearse and Captain Richard Wain were granted Britain's highest gallantry medal for their actions in the war which took their lives. But both names are missing from the war memorial in Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan. Military historian Paul Kiley has carried out research into the stories of the 2 Penarth VC holders who are among only 20 from Wales (1355 in total) to get the honour set up in 1856 by Queen Victoria.

National treasure, stolen Waiouru medals, returned for slice of reward
There was a phone call, a coded message and Chris Comeskey knew that the medals had landed. For 10 weeks police had searched for the missing Waiouru medals, while old soldiers grieved and angered Kiwis called for answers. All the while, Chris Comeskey, the military-styled lawyer using his contacts in criminal underworld, was on the trail. Within a week he was sure he knew who had seized the medals. His mission was to secure their return: before the thieves sneaked them out of the country into the collectables black market, where they would be worth millions. But as media shone a limelight on the case, the two men holding the collection of medals became nervous.

Victoria Cross winner Albert Shepherd - The 12th Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps
Albert Shepherd fought at the Somme and Passchendaele was injured once and gassed twice. He won the Victoria Cross for action at Villers-Plouich, on Nov. 20, 1917, during the Battle of Cambrai. When his company was held up by a machine-gun, he volunteered to rush the gun and went forward and threw a Mills bomb. When the last officer and the last non-commissioned officer had become casualties, Albert took control of the company. He ordered the men to lie down, and then he went back 70 yards under fire to get the help of a tank. He then led the company to it's last objective. His VC medal is on show at the Royal Green Jackets Museum, Winchester, Hampshire.

5 medals of sailor George MacKenzie Samson sold for £247,000
George MacKenzie Samson was granted 5 war decorations, including a Victoria Cross, for his courage during the First World War. In 1915, during the Gallipoli landings, he helped rescue wounded men under heavy fire. The medals were estimated to fetch 180,000 but were bought by Lord Ashcroft for 247,000. The group of medals, consisting the Victoria Cross, the 1914-1915 Star, the War medal, the Victory medal, and French Medaille Militaire, broke the price record for a British sale. Seaman Samson was shot 19 times during the Gallipoli landings, causing the surgeon treating him to question whether he would pull through.

Albert Jacka should have been awarded 4 Victoria Cross medals   (Article no longer available from the original source)
War hero Albert Jacka's relative has declared the army captain was "punished for his outspokenness" and should have been awarded 4 Victoria Cross medals. On the 90th anniversary of the battle of Polygon Wood - a wasteland near Ypres captured by the Australian infantry's 5th Division on Sept 26, 1917 - Ken Jacka said the battle should have fixed Albert Jacka's position as Australia's most decorated soldier. Instead senior command conspired to deny Jacka a Victoria Cross for his command of troops in the 4th Division's 14th Battalion. "the battalion commanders obviously found a nice safe dugout somewhere ... that was why there were no awards given."

The full list of 22 New Zealander Victoria Cross medal winners
Leslie Wilton Andrew - 1917; La Bassee Ville, France: Corporal Andrew was in charge of a small party in an attack on the enemy's position. His objective was a machine-gun post, but on leading his men forward he faced another machine-gun post. He attacked it, capturing the gun. He then continued with his attack on the original objective and captured the post. Cyril Royston Guyton Bassett - 1915; Gallipoli: On 7 August 1915 at Chunuk Bair Ridge, Gallipoli, after the New Zealand Brigade had established itself on the ridge, Corporal Bassett, in daylight and under fire, succeeded in laying a telephone line from the old position to the new one on Chunuk Bair.

Search is on for lost family of Victoria Cross hero Albert Mountain
Albert Mountain was just 22 when he wrote his name into British military folklore on the bloody battlefields of World War I. A blue plaque is being placed outside the pub in Garforth which he ran. Local historians are trying to track down surviving members of his family. Mountain was a sergeant with the West Yorkshire Regiment when he took charge of 10 men at Bullecourt on March 26, 1918. Armed with only a single Lewis machine gun, his unit managed to kill 100 members of an advance enemy patrol. They then kept another 600 enemy soldiers at bay to cover the retreat of the rest of their company. These heroics earned him the Victoria Cross.

The gallantry of Canterbury's WW1 Victoria Cross holder honoured
The gallantry of Canterbury's sole World War I Victoria Cross holder will be honoured during an exhibition at City O-Tautahi. The exhibition honouring Sgt Henry J Nicholas VC MM will open on 7 March, same day as a memorial to him is unveiled at the Park of Remembrance, near the Bridge of Remembrance. It covers his war years, his Victoria Cross and Military Medal exploits, and his death in 1918 when he was killed in a patrol clash near Beaudignies in France. There is also a short film on the making of the Mark Whyte memorial and memorabilia from the trenches of WWI will also be on display.

Unknown Soldier shouldn't get Victoria Cross: veterans
Canada wants to honour the Unknown Soldier with the Victoria Cross medal, but veterans are opposed to the idea. The Victoria Cross is supposed to honour the absolute highest acts of military bravery, veterans say, but there are no records about the Unknown Soldier and the type of service he provided in World War I. "The Victoria Cross is a very special award, it has never been given lightly," Bob Butt, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Legion, told. The medal was created in the 1856 by Queen Victoria, and has been awarded to 1,350 soldiers - including 94 Canadians.

War memorial accepts 61st Victoria Cross
An anonymous donor has handed the Australian War Memorial its 61st Victoria Cross medal. Lance Corporal Bernard Gordon was awarded the commonwealth's highest honour after capturing six enemy machine guns and 60 POWs during the campaign on the western front in World War 1. One of the machine guns is on display inside the memorial's Gallipoli gallery. The medal has arrived at the war memorial with little fanfare and a request from the donor for anonymity. The medal was auctioned for $485,800, the second highest price ever seen in Australia.

Unearthed WWI Victoria Cross medal to be auctioned   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Almost 90 years after Lance Corporal Bernard Sidney Gordon was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery on the battlefields, his medal has resurfaced. A Sydney auction house announced it would auction the medal. Mystery surrounds the resurfacing of the medal but his heroics are well known. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, joining the World War 1 bound 41st battalion as a private. He was caught in the midst of enemy fire but, rather than retreat, he single-handedly attacked an enemy machine gun post, killing its crew... He then kept moving through the enemy trenches. In total, Gordon took control of 6 machine guns, 61 enemy soldiers and two enemy officers.

Victoria Cross recipient's WW1 bagpipes from the battlefield
A set of bagpipes trampled beneath the mud of a World War One battlefield returned home to Canada, telling a story of how their mournful defiant voice spurred soldiers to a historic Canadian victory. James Richardson died on the Somme battlefield in 1916, but his bravery earned him the Victoria Cross, the highest military gallantry medal. He is the only Canadian piper awarded the VC. His unprotected battlefield piping spurred soldiers at Regina Trench to tear their way through a barbed wire enclosure and mount a victory. He died that same day when he was shot trying to retrieve his bagpipes from the bloody battlefield.

Lost Victoria Cross medal won on the Western Front found
A Victoria Cross won on the Western Front but lost for decades is to be sold - estimated value 70,000. VC was found in a drawer by the present owners when they were emptying the home of a relative who had died. Pte William Mariner won the award in May 1915 during the second battle of Ypres - for crawling through no-man's-land and single-handedly destroying a German machinegun post. He survived another 13 months before being blown to bits on the night preceding the Battle of the Somme when, according to a account, "he lost his remaining senses" during an attack.

Medal for the bravest of the brave -- Victoria Cross   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The warrant for the Victoria Cross in 1856 is explicitly democratic: "neither rank, nor long service, nor wounds, nor any other circumstance or condition whatsoever, save the merit of conspicuous bravery, shall be held to establish a sufficient claim to the honour." It also specific in terms of where and how the honour should be worn: "the Cross shall be suspended from the left breast by a blue riband for the navy, and by a red riband for the army". There are 12 living VCs today. Websites offer fascinating insight into many things VC, like The Sinnott Mystery: the loss and rediscovery of the VC awarded to Lance-Corporal John Sinnott.

Victoria Cross awarded twice to the same man only three times
The Victoria Cross is highest award for valour and only three men have been awarded one twice. The machine-gun bullets hissing above his head, Captain Noel Chavasse staggered through the fallen soldiers and around smoking shell craters to carry the wounded man to safety. With the cries of the injured ringing in his ears, he stumbled towards the front line, promising he would return to rescue them. Incredibly, he managed to keep his word. Noel was perhaps the bravest man to emerge from the First World War - a hero among heroes. But his courage cost him his life in one of the most inspiring stories to emerge from the trenches.