20 May 2020

Major General Clifford Coffin, Corps of Royal Engineers, earned his Victoria Cross whilst commanding the 25th Infantry Brigade at Westhoek, Belgium, whilst holding the rank of Temporary Brigadier General in July 1917. Following his death in Torquay on 4th February 1959 Clifford Coffin was buried in Holy Trinity Churchyard, Coleman's Hatch, East Sussex. Over the years General Coffin's grave had been sadly neglected even though a previous refurbishment took place in 2012.

Clifford Coffin's grave and headstone has now been cleaned and renovated through the efforts of local man Steve Davies.

Coffin's grave:
before and after

For the award of the Victoria Cross

[ London Gazette, 14 September 1917 ], Westhoek, Belgium, 31 July 1917, Lieutenant Colonel ( T / Brigadier General ) Clifford Coffin DSO.

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty ( Westhoek, Flanders ).

When his command was held up in attack owing to heavy machine gun and rifle fire from front and right flank, and was establishing itself in a forward shell hole line, he went forward and made an inspection of his front posts. Though under the heaviest fire from both machine guns and rifles, and in full view of the enemy, he showed an utter disregard of personal danger, walking quietly from shell hole to shell hole, giving advice generally, and cheering the men by his presence.

His very gallant conduct had the greatest effect on all ranks, and it was largely owing to his personal courage and example that the shell hole line was held in spite of the very heaviest fire. Throughout the day his calm courage and cheerfulness exercised the greatest influence over all with whom he came in contact, and it is generally agreed that Brigadier-General Coffin’s splendid example saved the situation, and had it not been for his action the line would certainly have been driven back.

Clifford Coffin was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 2nd January 1918.

[ London Gazette, 1 January 1917 ], Created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order ( DSO ), Lieutenant-Colonel Clifford Coffin, Corps of Royal Engineers

For distinguished service in the field.

[ London Gazette, 26 July 1918 ], For the award of a Bar to the Companion of the Distinguished Service Order ( DSO ), Lieutenant-Colonel and Bt Colonel ( T / Brigadier-General ) Clifford Coffin VC DSO, Corps of Royal Engineers

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during a long period of active operations, when he handled his brigade with great skill, especially when covering the withdrawal of the remainder of the division. On one occasion he commanded for a time the infantry of the division with marked success, and his personal courage and example at all times inspired all ranks.

Medal entitlement of Major General Clifford Coffin, Corps of Royal Engineers

  • Victoria Cross
  • Companion, Order of the Bath ( CB )
  • Distinguished Service Order ( DSO ) & Bar
  • Queens South Africa Medal ( 1899-1902 )
    • 4 clasps:
    • "Relief of Kimberley" - "Paardeberg" - "Dreifontein" - "Transvaal"
  • Kings South Africa Medal ( 1901-1902 )
    • 2 clasps:
    • "South Africa 1901" - "South Africa 1902"
  • 1914-15 Star
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 ) + MiD Oakleaf
  • King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 )
  • Knight, Legion of Honour ( France )
  • Croix de Guerre ( France )


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Iain Stewart, 20 May 2020