THE GRAVE AND HEADSTONE OVER THE BURIAL PLOT OF LANCE CORPORAL WILLIAM COLTMAN IN ST MARK'S CHURCHYARD, WINSHILL, HAS RECENTLY BEEN CLEANED AND REFURBISHED .
17 April 2010

Lance Corporal William Harold Coltman, 1 / 6th Bn, North Staffordshire Regiment, was the most decorated serviceman of the First World War ( 1914-1918 ). In the last two years of the war he was awarded the Victoria Cross, Distinguished Conduct Medal twice, and Military Medal twice, acting as a stretcher-bearer.

William Coltman died at his home on Burton-on-Trent on the 29th June 1974, aged 82, and was buried in St Mark's Churchyard, Winshill, a district of Burton-on-Trent. His grave and headstone has recently been cleaned and refurbished.



( select to enlarge )
Medal entitlement of Lance Corporal William Harold Coltman,
1 / 6th Bn, North Staffordshire Regiment

  • Victoria Cross
  • Distinguished Conduct Medal ( DCM ) & Bar
  • Military Medal ( MM ) & Bar
  • 1914 - 15 Star
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 ) + MiD Oakleaf
  • Defence Medal ( 1939-45 )
  • King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 )
  • Special Constabulary Long Service Medal
  • Croix de Guerre ( France )


[ London Gazette, 6 January 1919 ], For the award of the Victoria Cross. Mannequin Hill, France, 3 - 4 October 1918, 241028 Lance Corporal William Harold Coltman DCM, MM & Bar, 1 / 6th Bn, North Staffordshire Regiment.

For most conspicuous bravery, initiative and devotion to duty. During the operations at Mannequin Hill, N.E. of Sequehart, on the 3rd and 4th October 1918, Lance Corporal Coltman, a stretcher-bearer, hearing that wounded had been left behind during a retirement, on his own initiative, went forward alone in the face of fierce enfilade fire, found the wounded, dressed them, and on three successive occasions carried comrades on his back to safety, thus saving their lives.

This very gallant N.C.O. tended the wounded unceasingly for forty-eight hours.

William Coltman was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 22nd May 1919.


William Coltman was awarded four further gallantry awards making him the most decorated serviceman during the First World War. His committed Christian beliefs would not allow him to kill another individual so he was allowed to join a stretcher-bearer group shortly after enlisting.


For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 26 March 1917 ], ( listed without citation ) For the award of the Military Medal, 241028 Private William Harold Coltman, 1 / 6th Bn, North Staffordshire Regiment.

Note: Near Monchy on 17th February 1917, during misty weather, an officer took out a party to repair the wire in front of the trenches. The mist suddenly cleared and the enemy opened fire. The officer sent the party in, and was himself the last to withdraw.

When getting through our wire he was shot through the thigh and fell. Private Coltman, with conspicuous gallantry, in full view of the enemy, without hesitation went out from the trenches to this officer, and with difficulty succeeded in bringing him in through the wire, and while doing so he displayed great courage in keeping himself between his officer and the enemy although being only 85 yards from the hostile trenches and under rifle fire the whole time.

Private Coltman has previously shown great gallantry as a Stretcher-Bearer, particularly on 1st July 1916.


[ London Gazette, 16 August 1917 ], ( listed without citation ) For the award of a Bar to the Military Medal, 241028 Lance Corporal William Harold Coltman, 1 / 6th Bn, North Staffordshire Regiment.

Several incidents: In the trenches near Lens, Lance Corporal ( Stretcher-Bearer ) Coltman has shown great gallantry, devotion to duty and disregard for personal danger on three occasions:

6th June 1917. A mortar bomb set fire to the Company dump wherein bombs and rockets were stored. Lance Corporal Coltman immediately removed the bombs and Very-lights.

7th June 1917. The Company HQ was set on fire by a trench mortar bomb causing several casualties. Lance Corporal Coltman tended the wounded and amongst others bound up one with both legs broken.

14th June 1917. A tunnel through an embankment was blown in and 12 men buried. He immediately organised a party to dig out the buried men and supervised the removal of the wounded and was undoubtedly responsible for saving the lives of several men.


[ London Gazette, 25 August 1917 ], For the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal ( DCM ), 241028 Lance Corporal William Harold Coltman, 1 / 6th Bn, North Staffordshire Regiment

For most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during operations south-west of Lens between 28th June and 2nd July 1917. Lance Corporal Coltman's conduct was magnificent.

He assisted in evacuating several badly wounded men from the front line and working untiringly until every wounded man had been taken out; undoubtedly saving the lives of several of these men, as otherwise they would have had to lie up in the front line without proper attention.

During the night he searched the ground between and in front of the captured trenches and under shell and machine-gun fire brought in any men who had been wounded.

Lance Corporal Coltman's absolute indifference to danger and his gallant conduct had an insipiring effect on the rest of the men and was a splendid example to all. I cannot speak too highly of this NCO's gallantry on this and many previous occasions.


[ London Gazette, 12 March 1919 ], Announcing the award of a Bar to the Distinguished Conduct Medal ( DCM ), 241028 Lance Corporal William Harold Coltman VC, DCM, MM & Bar, 1 / 6th Bn, North Staffordshire Regiment

[ London Gazette, 2 December 1919 ], Citation for the award of a Bar to the Distinguished Conduct Medal ( DCM ), 241028 Lance Corporal William Harold Coltman VC, DCM, MM & Bar, 1 / 6th Bn, North Staffordshire Regiment

On 28th September 1918 near Bellinglise this Lance Corporal dressed and carried many wounded men under heavy artillery fire. The following day, during our advance, he remained at his work without rest or sleep, attending the wounded, headless of shell and machine-gun fire and never resting till he was positive that our sector was clear of wounded. In addition he was a most valuable means of communication, bringing back with his wounded accurate information of the advance.

In spite of very thick smoke and fog he always found his way and so far as his work allowed; served as a guide. He set the very highest example of fearlessness and devotion to duty.

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Iain Stewart, 17 April 2010