Over the past few months I have unearthed the stories of 15 men from Northampton, awarded a gallantry medal for bravery. In several instances more than once during the First World War. While many were won on the Western Front in France and Belgium, for some we move to the more exotic climes of Jerusalem and Palestine.
An 18 year old lad from Jimmy’s End who drove his tank continuously for seventeen hours in the heat of battle. A ‘Mobbs Man’ from Colwyn Road, awarded a Military Medal when serving with a Special Company of the Royal Engineers. The grandson of the founder of one of Northampton’s most famous shoe manufacturers who led his men against a heavily fortified Turkish position at Gaza. In the same campaign, a man from Artizan Road who rescued four wounded men under heavy machine-gun fire during the capture of Jerusalem.
From the first Northampton man awarded a gallantry decoration, an Irish Guardsman from Perry Street in early November 1914. To the last, a conscripted soldier with a citation which reads like a Hollywood scene from a ‘John Wayne’ film, during the last few weeks of the war. The real tragic story of probably the bravest man of all from the town, awarded the Military Medal as an enlisted soldier and the Military Cross when he was later commissioned as an officer, only to be killed in a traffic accident when serving at home less than a month before the end of the war.
Although no award of the Victoria Cross was won by a Northampton man, I will be telling the story of a soldier with a close connection to the town who won the VC on the Somme in 1916. In addition to explaining the different types of gallantry medals awarded, I will present a summary of the awards conferred to the Northamptonshire Regiment. Also there will be a number of gallantry medal groups to the regiment on display.
If you’d like to come along to my talk on Thursday 6th August at 7pm do call the museum on 01604 837397 to book. Ticket cost £5 and are also available on the door.