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266
The Victoria Cross
building~.
Corporal Clamp d hed forward with two men and attempted
to rush the largest blockhou e. His first attempt failed owing to the two
men with him
bein~
knocked out; but he at once collected some bombs,
and, calling upon two men to follow him, aaain da hed. f?rward. He was
fir t to reach the blockhou e and hurled his bomb, killing many of the
occupants. He then ent,ered and brought out a machine gun and
a~out
twenty pri ners, whom he brought back under heavy fire from neigh–
bourin!t !!niper. This non-commissioned officer then
~ain w~nt
forward
encoura~in~
and cheering the men, and succeeded m ru hmg seyeral
niper' po
t.
He continued to display the greate t
herois~
until he
wa killed by a sniper. His magnificent courage and self-sacrIfice
w~.
of
the greate t value, and relieved what was undoubtedly a ,ery CrItical
situation."
COLLINS, JOHN, Corpl., was born in
Xov.
1
7'7.
at "'est Hatch.
'.
omer~
t, son of Tom Collin<; and :\Iary Ann Collins, of 54, High
Stre~t,
Penydarren, Tydfil, "'outh \,"ales, He was educated at West
.~atch,
m
the county of omerset, and lomed the
Army on 1
~ov.
1 95, as a Driver in the
R.H.A. He was seventeen when he first
became a soldier, and he took part in the
, outh African War, and was among the
first, of the troops to enter Ladysmith on
its relief. He has the South African
Queen's and King's fedals with seven
cia ps. Three of his brothers also served
in that war, and his parents received con–
gratulations from Queen Victoria, which
gained for the Collins' family the name of
• the fighting family of Penydarren."
After the outh African "Yar he eWed
in Penydarren, and for some years worked
at the Bedlinog Collieries. He wa
marrieu at St. Illtyd's Church, Dowlais,
John Collins.
on 17 )[arch, 1910, to
~lary
Ellen O'Brien,
daughter of John and
~lary
O'Brien.
He rejoined the Army at the outbreak of war, being the second of hundreds
of Penydarren men recruited. He was transferred from the Welsh Horse,
in which he re-enlisted, to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He served in tl:e
European War in Palestine. He was awarded the Victoria Cross [London
Gazette,l Dec. 1917]: " 0.355652, John Collins, Acting Corpi., Royal
'Welsh Fusilier. For most conspicuou bravery, resource and leadership,
when, after deployment, prior
to
an attack, bis battalion was forced to lie
out in the open under heavy shell and machine-gun fire, which caused many
ca ualties. This gallant non-commi ioned officer repeatedly went out
under heavy fire and brought wounded back to cover, thus saving many
live. In ubsequent operations throughout the day CorpI. Collins was
conspicuous in rallying and leading his command. He led the final assault
with the utmost skill, in spite of heavy fire at close range and uncut wire.
He bayoneted 15 of the enemy, ami "ith a Lewis gun section pressed
on beyond the objective and covered the reorganization and consolidation
mo t effectively, although isolated and under fire from snipers and guns.
He showed throughout a magnificent example of initiative and fearlessness."
He was promoted to ergeant 31 Oct. 1917. He was awarded the Distin–
g-ui hed Conduct )Iedal [London Gazette, 30
Nov.
1917). He was wounded
on Oct. 191 in France.
SAGE, THOMAS H., Private, served in the European War in France,
and was awarded the Victoria ero s [London Gazette, 1 Dec. 1917]:
.. Thoma H. age, No. 33316, Private, 8th Battn. Somerset Ligbt Infantry
(Tiverton). For mo<>t conspicuous bravery during an attack on an enemy
tron~
post. He was in a shell-hole with eight other men, one of whom
wa hot with a bomb. The live bomb fell into the shell-hole, and Private
age, with great courage and presence of mind, immediately threw him elf
on it, thereby undoubtedly saving the live of several of hi comrade
though he himself sustained very severe wound ."
London Gazette, 11 Jan. 191 .-" War Office, 11 Jan. 191
His Majesty
the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria
Cro to the undermentioned Officers, Non-commissioned Officers and Men,
for mo
t
conspicuous bravery."
SHERWOOD-KELLY, JOHN, c.:\J.G., D..
0.,
:\Iajor (Acting Lieut.–
Colonel), erved in the European War. He was created a Companion of
the Di tingui hed ervice Order, and was created a Companion of the
Order of t. Michael and t. George. He was awarded the Victoria Cros
[London Gazette, 11 Jan. 191 ]: ., John Sherwood-Kelly, C. LG., D..
0.,
:\tajor (Actin!! Lieut.-Colonel), Xorfolk Regt., Commanding a Battalion,
Royal Inniskilling Fusilier. For mo
t
conspicuous bravery and fearless
leading when a party of men of another unit detailed to cover t.he pa age
of the canal by his battalion were held up (.n he near side of the canal
by h avy rifle fire directed on the bridge. Lieut.-Colonel herwood-Kelly
at once ordered covering fire, per onaLly led the leading company of his
battalion acro the canal, and, after cro.
ing,
reconnoitred under heavy
riB and machine-gun fire the high ground held by the enemy. The left
£lank. of hi battalion advancing to the a ault of this objective was held
up by a thick belt of wire, whereupon he crossed to that flank, and with a
Lems gun team forced his way under heavy fire through obstacles, got
the gun into po ition on the far ide, and covered the advance of his battalion
through the wire, thereby enabling them to c8pttrre the position. Later,
h per onally led a charge again ·t ome pit., from which a heavy fire
w being directed on hi men, captured the pit together with five machine
guns and 46 pri oner, and killed a large number of the enemy.
The great gallantry di played by thi officer throughout the day in pir
ct
the greatest confidence in his men, and
it
was mainly due to his example
and devotion to duty that his battalion was enabled to capture and hold
their objective." He served in Russia.
PEARKES, GEORGE RANDOLPH, Capt. (Acting Major), joined the
Canadian Military Forces, and served in the European War in France.
He was awarded the Military Cross, and was awarded the Victoria Cross
[London Gazette, 11 Jan. 1918]: "George
Randolph Pearkes, M.C., Capt. (Acting
Major), 5th Battn. Canadian Mounted
Rifles. For most conspicuous bravery and
skilful handling of the troops tmder his
command during the capture and con–
solidation of considerably more than the
objectives allotted to him in an attack.
Just before the advance, Major Pearkes
was wounded in the left thigh. Regardless
of his wound, he continued to lead his
men with the utmost gallantry, despite
many obstacles. At a particular stage of
the attack his further advance was
threatened by a strong point which was
an objective of the battalion on his left,
but which they had not succeeded in
George R. P earkes .
capturing.
Quickly appreciating the
situation, he captured and held this point,
thus enabling his further advance to be successfully pushed forward.
It
was entirely due to his determination and fearless personality that he
was able to maintain his objective with the small number of men at his
command against repeated enemy counter-attacks, both his flanks being
unprotected for a considerable depth meanwhile. His appreciation of
the situation throughout, and the reports rendered by him were invaluable
to his Commanding Officer in making dispositions of troops to hold the
position captured. He showed throughout a supreme contempt of danger
and wonderful powers of control and leading." He was promoted to
Lieut.-Colonel, and was later wotmded for the fifth time during the war.
The follo,ving is quoted from" Thirty Canadian V.C.'s," edited by Capt.
Roberts, and published by Messrs. Skeffington (pages 67-70) : "There
are many wonderful deeds recorded in the history of the Canadian Corps
at Passchendaele, but for stubborn endurance carried far beyond previous
standards of physical limitations, for cool pluck and pertinacity under
very terrible conditions, the story of the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifle
Battn. on 30 Oct. 1917, is remarkable. The night of the 29th was clear
and fine, and the moon was nearly full, the light helping our men to pick
their way through to the assembly on the comparatively firm ground
between the flooded shell-holes. Soon after 5 o'clock on the morning
of the 30th the troops were in position, and at ten minutes to six A and
C Companies went over the top and forward to the attack on Vapour Farm
and the outlying defences of Passchendaele. The ground immediately
before the 5th C.M.R. was very swampy, and owing to this it had been
previously found impossible to send troops straight through Woodland
Plantation. Accordingly the waves of our attacking infantry divided,
and
.A
Company went forward and round the south of the Plantation, while
B Company attacked on the north. For nearly an hour the smoke cover–
ing the plantation prevented any observation of our progress, but soon a
wounded runner stumbled into Headquarters with a report that the left
of our attack had reached the intermediate objective. On the right the
men of A Company had encountered the enemy south of the wood and
fierce hand-to-hand fighting was still going on, with the Canadians steadily
making their way forward. In this bayonet work, with the opponents
waist-deep in mud and water, our men won the advantage, for the know–
ledge that a mis-step or a disabling wound meant a peculiarly unpleasant
death in suffocating mud was an incentive to desperate fighting, and the
Germans hated it from the start. By the time the smoke had cleared
our troops had won their way around the copse, and the two companies,
now barely half their original strength, had joined and were resting while
our barrage hammered the line of the intermediate objective. But this
halt was a mistake. The Germans, retreating before our advance, were
given time to reform, and in a moment or two machine-gun and rifle fire
became terribly heavy from the high ground to the east. However, led
by Major Pearkes and reinforced by the remaining companies, the 5th
C.M.R. went forward again, until our observers lost sight of them as they
went over the ridge. Then occurred a time of anxious suspense for the
men at Headquarters, until half an hour later a message came through
from Major Pearkes saying that he was holding a line near to his final
objectives with some fifty men, that the fighting was close and desperate,
and that help was required. Major Pearkes was in a very difficult situa–
tion. He had taken his men forward, fighting his way through obstacle
after obstacle until he had reached his objective, and now he was holding
a hastily improvised line with both his flanks exposed to any German
attack. The troops attacking with him on each side had been unable to
make any headway, and only the well-directed and aggressive shooting
of his men prevented a flanking move that might have cut him off com–
pletely. On his left the Artists' Rifles had been unable to capture Source
Farm, and from this point heavy enfilading fire was poured upon his ex–
posed line.
It
was impossible to maintain any position under such fire,
and the Major realized that the only hope of holding his ground lay in the
capture of this strong point. With the few men at his command he
organized and led an attack, and the gallant recklessness of the assaulting
party carried the place by storm. Now he could get forward again, and
he did so, only halting to establish his line when it became obvious that
hi handful of men, though willing enough, could hardly fight their way
throu~h
an entire army corps. He withdrew his men from Vanity House,
consolidated a line of hell-holes from Source Farm to Vapour Farm and