For Conspicuous Gallantry…

For Conspicuous Gallantry… Winners of the Military Cross and Bar During the Great War.

In February 2006 I published the first volume of what I hope will turn out to be the definitive reference work on the awards of the Military Cross during the Great War. The Book is entitled “For Conspicuous Gallantry…” after the first couple of words that start the majority of MC Citations, and it covers the winners of the MC and 2 Bars, and winners of the MC and 3 Bars.

Each winner has at least a page dedicated to them, I have put together a bullet-pointed career overview for each officer, as well as information on complete WW1 medal entitlement. Citations for all Bars are also included. Where possible, I have included Battalion War Diary extracts to embellish what often are very brief descriptions in Citations.

I wanted this to be more than just a list of winners. I wanted to bring the people behind the medal to life as much as I could, and I like to think this work offers a unique insight into the military careers of some very very bave men, who up until now, have been largely overlooked.

Here is an example of the kind of thing that is included in the book:

James Arthur Gravett

North Lancashire Regiment 

Record of Service:

  • Appointed to a Commission as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 10th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, on 24/11/1914
  • Promoted to Lieutenant on 1/2/1915
  • Embarked for France on 30/7/1915 as part of the 37th Division. This Division served with distinction on the Western Front for the remainder of the War, and took part in many significant actions including the attack on the Gommecourt Salient (Somme 1916), the battles of Menin Road, Polygon Wood, and Passchendaele (The Third Battle of Ypres 1917), Havrincourt and Cambrai 1918.
  • Promoted to Captain on 30/6/1916
  • Mentioned in Dispatches on 26/9/1916
  • Invested with the Military Cross on 28/10/1916
  • Appointed Temporary Major with the combined service Battalions of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on 27/3/1917
  • Invested with both the First and Second Bars to the Military Cross all together on 28/11/1917

 WW1 Medal Entitlement:

1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal

Mentioned in Dispatches: 26/9/1916

Military Cross and 2 Bars:

  • Military Cross Citation published in Gazette issue 29765 (26th September 1916)
  • 1st Bar Citation published in Gazette issue 30135 (15th June 1917)
  • 2nd Bar listed (no Citation) in Gazette issue 30308 (25th September 1917)
  • 2nd Bar Citation published in Gazette issue 30466 (8th January 1918)

1st Bar Citation – 15th June 1917

Temp. Capt. James Arthur Gravett, M.C., N. Lancs. R.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He displayed the utmost gallantry and determination when leading his company. By his behaviour and coolness he kept his men together, and rendered most valuable at a critical time.

The two and a half lines of this citation do not do justice to the actions that took place near Arras on 11/4/1917 which led to Captain Gravett being awarded his First Bar to the Military Cross. The Battalion War Diary gives excellent details of the actions:

Arras – 11/4/1917

During the night orders were received that the L.N. Lancs. Were to continue the advance and attack at 5a.m. going through East Lancs. and attacking the trenches, having as our objective the “Green Line” and in particular the wood in 0.8 Central.

5a.m.

The Battalion, having previously got into position for such advance, almost immediately came in full view of the enemy and was met with very heavy machine gun and shell fire.

5.30 a.m.

We received orders not to advance until barrage opened. By this time, we had carried by assault, the enemy trench on front (east of sunken road) and were establishing ourselves in shell holes 100 yards further east.

During this assault, we suffered very heavy casualties and were being enfiladed from Monchy le Preux. The right flank, perceiving that they were in the air and appreciating the fact that if it remained as such, there was a likelihood of their being outflanked, boldly determined to risk all and assault a small trench running southwards from CAMBRAI Road in the direction of GUEMAPPE and about 50 yards east of sunken road before mentioned. A tank apparently also appreciating the situation in a like manner, came to their aid.

On obtaining possession of the trench, Corpl Leonard and L/C R. Dunwoodie and six men were all that were left. These eight men boldly bombed along the trench southward killing more than a dozen Bosche, taking 3 prisoners and found themselves in complete possession. To their utmost surprise 7 Bosche officers miraculously appeared, apparently from nowhere. This was not a time to stand on ceremony, whereupon the officers suffered the same fate as their men.

Two machine guns were captured in this gallant assault but as the new garrison were so weak in numbers and fearing that they might be in their turn evicted, they blew them up. These men retained possession of the this trench as did also Capt. Garett, ably assisted by 2nd Lt. Deacon (being the only two officers left) and C.S.M. Webster with 60 men, made themselves masters of the situation of the corresponding trench running northwards from the CAMBRAI Road. Here the garrison remained throughout the day, although there were signs of the enemy massing for a counter attack from the south……

…The commanding officer and adjutant having collected en-route stragglers of all Battalions to the number of about 50, arrived on the scene. By this time and with the assistance of the reinforcements, Capt. Garett was the complete master of the situation. From this time onwards, reinforcements of officers and men from other Battalions kept arriving.

1.50pm

The Commanding Officer sent in a report to the General informing him that the situation had improved considerable and he had made plans for bombing parties to proceed along both sides of the CAMBRAI Road and to attack the enemy trench after nightfall, which was about 300 yards in front of our line as it was not deemed advisable at that moment to advance further, knowing full well that we were well in advance of all troops on our right and left, besides which, in our present position we had command of a good field of fire to our front line and could also enfilade the enemy on our right…

5pm

We received orders that we would be relieved at 6.30pm and immediately informed Capt. Garett to hold himself in readiness to be relieved.

This relief was not complete until 1am.

Tilloy Wood – 12/4/191

8am Roll Call

Only a few of the brave fellows left. Our losses estimated at 13 Officers and 286 men. That is 60% of our fighting strength.

National Archives: WO95/2538

2nd Bar Citation – 8th January 1918

T./Capt. James Arthur Gravett, M.C., N. Lancs. R.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. On two nights in succession he made daring personal reconnaissances of a farm which was the objective of a raid, and brought back valuable information. He commanded the raid and was completely successful, afterwards remaining in No Man’s Land until all the dead and wounded had been brought in. It was due to his good leadership and indomitable courage that the object of the raid was successfully attained with comparatively slight loss. He set a splendid example to all ranks.

The book costs 20GBP and can be purchased directly from my website www.mcandbar.com alternatively it is listed on Amazon

ISBN 1-905237-43-X

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