This Day In History

1944 Operation Garden – the land element of  Operation Market Garden, the attempt by Airborne and ground forces to capture the Rhine bridges, which culminated in the Battle of Arnhem - begins. To clear the left flank of the 30 Corps attack, 1st East Lancashires carry out a difficult night-time opposed assault crossing of the Meuse-Escaut Canal at Lommel, Belgium. The assault crossing of a defended water obstacle by night is an operation of extreme complexity, risk and danger. For the East Lancashires, these difficulties were compounded. Not only did they have to get across a sheer-sided, wide and deep canal, but they had to fight in the utter pitch blackness of a dense forest. Daylight revealed the battalion miraculously on their objectives, but with their bypassed enemy – German paratroops – largely behind them. Confused fighting continued all day as the East Lancashires cleared back and along the canal bank. At one point the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Burden, and his orderly leapt into a fox-hole, overcoming its surprised occupant, a German paratrooper. Burden took the machine pistol the soldier carried and used it as his personal weapon for the rest of the war. Allied troops at the time called all German machine guns Schmeissers, and the gun is known to this day as The Burden Schmeisser, although it is actually an MP.40. It is on display in the Museum. (The MP.38 and MP.40 Maschinenpistolen were submachine guns developed in Nazi Germany and used extensively by Fallschirmjäger (paratroopers), platoon and squad leaders, and other troops throughout the war – and in just about every World War 2 war film ever made since.)
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For Valour – The Victoria Cross



The Victoria Cross.

The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest award which the nation can bestow. It is awarded for “most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy,” and takes precedence over all other orders, decorations and medals.

The Victoria Cross was instituted by Royal Warrant on 29 January 1856, made retrospective to the autumn of 1854 to cover the Crimean War. Since then, the medal has been awarded 1,358 times to 1,355 individual recipients.

A total of 19 were serving with antecedent regiments of The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment when they won their award. It is a measure of the ultimate, self-denying, sacrificial  bravery required that over a quarter of them (five, plus a sixth who later succumbed to his wounds), did not survive the action for which they were awarded their Cross.

The Museum owns and cares for five Victoria Cross medals, of which four  (marked below with * ) are on display. In accordance with his wish that it should always be displayed in East Lancashire, the medal of Captain Marcus Ervine-Andrews is on loan to the Blackburn Museum.

This specially-commissioned composition shows 17 of the Regiment’s 19 Victoria Cross winners symbollically posed on the parade square of the Regiment’s traditional home at Fulwood Barracks, Preston. The painting hangs in the Museum. From left to right: Captain Marcus Ervine-Andrews 1940, 2nd Lieutenant Basil Horsfall 1918, Private William Ratcliffe 1917, Private William Young 1915, Private John McDermond 1854Lieutenant Richard Jones 1916, Drummer Spencer John Bent 1914, Captain Euston Sartorious 1879, Colour Serjeant John Lucas 1861, 2nd Lieutenant Alfred Smith 1915, Private Henry Kenny 1915, Captain Mark Walker 1854, Lieutenant Thomas Wilkinson 1916, Private John Davies 1918, Private John Readitt 1917, 2nd Lieutenant Gabriel Coury 1916, Lieutenant Willward Sandys-Clarke 1943.






Pte John McDERMOND 47th Foot Inkerman,   Crimea 5 Nov   1854
Lt & Adjt Mark WALKER 30th Foot Inkerman, Crimea 5 Nov 1854
Colour Sjt John LUCAS * 40th Foot Huirangi Bush,   New Zealand 18 Mar 1861
Capt Euston Henry SARTORIOUS 59th Foot Shahjui 24 0ct 1879
Dmr Spencer John BENT 1 E Lan R Le Gheer,   Belgium 1/2 Nov 1914
Pte Henry KENNY 1 Loyals Nr Loos, France 25 Sep 1915
Pte William YOUNG* 8 E Lan R Nr Fonque – Villers, France 22 Dec 1915
2Lt Alfred Victor SMITH 1/5 E Lan R Helles,   Gallipoli 23 Dec 1915
Rev William Robert Fountaine ADDISON R A Ch   D (att 6 Loyals) Sannaiyat,   Mesopotamia 9 Apr 1916
Lt   Richard Basil JONES 8 Loyals Vimy Ridge,   France 21 May 1916
Lt   Thomas Orde Lawder WILKINSON 7 Loyals La Boisselle,   Somme, France 5 Jul 1916
2Lt Gabriel COURY * 3 S Lan   R(att1/4thBn) Nr Arrow Head   Copse, France 8 Aug 1916
Pte John READITT 6 S Lan R Shumran Bend,   Mesopotamia 25 Feb1917
Capt Oswald Austin REID 4 Kings   (att 6 Loyals) Diyala Crossing, Mesopotamia 9 Mar 1917
Pte William RATCLIFFE MM 2 S Lan R Messines,   Belgium 14 Jun 1917
Cpl John Thomas DAVIES 11 S Lan R Nr Eppeville,   France 24 Mar 1918
2Lt Basil Arthur HORSFALL * 3 E Lan   R (att 11th Bn) Ervillers,   France 27 Mar   1918
Capt Harold Marcus ERVINE-ANDREWS 1 E Lan R Dunkirk, France 31 May –1 Jun   1940
Lt Willward A SANDYS- CLARKE 1 Loyals Gueriat-el-Atach   Tunisia 23 Apr1943