This Day In History

  • 1691 Castleton’s Regiment (later 1st East Lancashires) embarks at Portsmouth for active service in Flanders as part of the largest English Army sent abroad since the days of Henry the Eighth.
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Reverend William Robert Fountaine Addison VC

 

Reverend William Robert Fountaine Addison VC

Reverend William Robert Fountaine Addison VC

William Addison was born on 16 September 1883 in North Warnborough, Hampshire. He was educated at Robert Mays School, Odiham, Hants, and as a young man worked as a lumberjack in Canada. After studying at Salisbury Theological College, he was ordained at the age of 30 in 1913 and, upon the outbreak of World War I, volunteered for the Army Chaplain’s Department.

He was posted to the 13th (Western) Division, a New Army formation which included the 6th (Service) Battalions of the East Lancashire, South Lancashire and Loyal North Lancashire Regiments, brigaded as part of the 38th (Lancashire) Infantry Brigade. He was with them when they landed at Basra, Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) in March 1916.

In April the Division was thrown into a disastrously muddled and failed attempt to relieve a besieged British garrison at Kut, contributing over 700 casualties in five days of unsuccessful fighting to the relief force’s 22,000 – man butcher’s bill

Chaplain Addison appears to have been ministering to two battalions of the 38th (Lancashire) Brigade – 6th Kings Own and 6th Loyals – when, in the words of the citation to his Victoria Cross, on 9 April 1916 at Sanna-i-Yat:

“He carried a wounded man to the cover of a trench, and assisted several others to the same cover, after binding up their wounds under heavy rifle and machine gun fire.
In addition to these unaided efforts, by his splendid example and utter disregard of personal danger, he encouraged the stretcher-bearers to go forward under heavy fire and collect the wounded. 

He was invested with the VC by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 3 August 1917.

After the war William Addison continued as an army chaplain, serving in Malta, Khartoum and Shanghai, and at army bases in England. He was Senior Chaplain to the Forces from 1934 to 1938 when he left the army and became a parish priest. He was Rector of Coltishall with Great Hautbois, in Norfolk, from 1938 to 1958. However, on the outbreak of World War II he returned to the army and again served as Senior Chaplain to the Forces, and was Deputy Assistant Chaplain-General in South Wales.

He died in January 1962, aged 78, in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, and is buried in Brookwood Cemetery, Woking.

His Victoria Cross is held by the National Army Museum, London.