Richard Annesley West VC
Name: Richard Annesley West
Conflict: First World War
Gazetted: October 30, 1918
Richard Annesley West VC
Place/date of birth: Cheltenham, Gloucestershire/September 26, 1878
Rank when awarded VC (and later highest rank): Acting Lieutenant Colonel
Date of bravery: August 21 and September 2, 1918
London Gazette citation:
Capt. (A./Lt.-Col.) Richard Annesley West, D.S.O., M.C., late North Irish Horse (Cav. S.R.) and Tank Corps.
For most conspicuous bravery, leadership and self-sacrifice.
During an attack, the infantry having lost their bearings in the dense fog, this officer at once collected and re-organised any men he could find and led them to their objective in face of heavy machine-gun fire. Throughout the whole action he displayed the most utter disregard of danger, and the capture of the objective was in a great part due to his initiative and gallantry.
On a subsequent occasion it was intended that a battalion of light Tanks under the command of this officer should exploit the initial infantry and heavy Tank attack. He therefore went forward in order to keep in touch with the progress of the battle, and arrived at the front line when the enemy were in process of delivering a local counter-attack. The infantry battalion had suffered heavy officer casualties, and its flanks were exposed. Realising that there was a danger of the battalion giving way, he at once rode out in front of them under extremely heavy machine-gun and rifle fire and rallied the men. In spite of the fact that the enemy were close upon him he took charge of the situation and detailed non-commissioned officers to replace officer casualties. He then rode up and down in front of them in face of certain death, encouraging the men and calling to them, “Stick it, men; show them fight; and for God’s sake put up a good fight.” He fell riddled by machine-gun bullets.
The magnificent bravery of this very gallant officer at the critical moment inspired the infantry to redoubled efforts, and the hostile attack was defeated.
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Other decorations: DSO & Bar, MC
Place/date of death: Vauix-Vraucourt, France/September 2, 1918
Grave/memorials: Mory Abbey Military Cemetery, France/ War Memorial, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland; St Ronan’s Church, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
Origin of VC to the Lord Ashcroft collection: Purchased privately, 2002
Current location of VC: Displayed on rotation at The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes exhibition, Imperial War Museum