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Royal Armouries Museum

Victoria Crosses

Highest award for bravery for three Leeds heroes
27th October 2018 - 10:00 am - 28th April 2019 - 5:00 pm
Free

In this season of remembrance we are proud to display three medals, awarded for ‘gallantry in the presence of the enemy’, and to highlight the stories of the Leeds men who received these honours for their service to our country during the First World War.

William Boynton Butler VC

Born in Armley, Leeds in 1894. In August 1917 Butler was a 22 year-old private in the 17th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (The Prince of Wales Own), attached to 106 Trench Mortar Battery as part of a Stokes mortar crew. On 6 August, the mortarman’s worst nightmare came true and Butler demonstrated the

“most conspicuous bravery when in charge of a Stokes gun in trenches which were being heavily shelled. Suddenly one of the fly-off levers of a Stokes shell came off and fired the shell in the emplacement. Private Butler picked up the shell and jumped to the entrance of the emplacement, which at that moment a party of infantry were passing. He shouted to them to hurry past as the shell was going off, and turning round, placed himself between the party of men and the live shell and so held it till they were out of danger”.

Laurence Calvert VC MM

Born in Hunslet, Leeds in 1892. During the Battle of Havrincourt, On 12 September 1918, Laurence single-handedly captured two enemy machine guns with just a standard issue SMLE rifle and Pattern 1907 bayonet. This act of bravery earned him the Victoria Cross.

“For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in attack when the success of the operation was rendered doubtful owing, to severe enfilade machine-gun fire. Alone and single-handed Sjt. Calvert, rushing forward against the machine-gun team, bayoneted three and shot four.

His valour and determination in capturing single-handed two machine guns and killing the crews thereof enabled the ultimate objective to be won. His personal gallantry inspired all ranks.”.

George Sanders VC MC

Born in New Wortley, Leeds in 1894. In July 1916, Sanders was a Corporal in the 1/7th Battalion (Leeds Rifles), West Yorkshire Regiment (The Prince of Wales Own), stationed near Thiepval in France. An advance into enemy trenches separated George and thirty men from the army. He led them through 36 hours of fighting before returning to British lines. This act of bravery and leadership earned him the Victoria Cross.

“For most conspicuous bravery. After an advance into the enemy’s trenches, he found himself isolated with a party of thirty men. He organised his defences, detailed a bombing party, and impressed on his men that his and their duty was to hold the position at all costs. Next morning he drove off an attack by the enemy and rescued some prisoners who had fallen into their hands. Later two strong bombing attacks were beaten off.”

The medals will be displayed in the War Gallery until 28 April 2019.


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