5 May 2021

The headstone marking the burial plot of Major General Henry Foote VC, in St Mary's Churchyard, West Chiltington, West Sussex, although of sturdy construction, had discoloured badly since Henry Foote's death in November 1993.

The grave and the stone has now been cleaned and refurbished by local man Steve Davies bringing the marker back to its original state when erected.

Henry Foote's headstone:
before and after

For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 18 May 1944 ], Battle of Knightsbridge, Libya, 27 May to 15 June 1942, Major ( T / Lieutenant Colonel ) Henry Robert Foote, Command 7th Royal Tank Regiment.

For outstanding gallantry during the period 27th May to 15th June 1942.

On the 6th June, Lieutenant Colonel Foote led his Battalion, which had been subjected to very heavy artillery fire, in pursuit of a superior force of the enemy. While changing to another tank after his own had been knocked out, Lieutenant Colonel Foote was wounded in the neck. In spite of this he continued to lead his Battalion from an exposed position on the outside of a tank.

The enemy, who were holding a strongly entrenched position with anti-tank guns, attacked his flank. As a further tank had been disabled he continued on foot under intense fire encouraging his men by his splendid example. By dusk, Lieutenant Colonel Foote by his brilliant leadership had defeated the enemy's attempt to encircle two of our Divisions.

On 13th June, when ordered to delay the enemy tanks so that the Guards Brigade could be withdrawn from the Knightsbridge escarpment and when the first wave of our tanks had been destroyed, Lieutenant Colonel Foote re-organised the remaining tanks, going on foot from one tank to another to encourage the crews under intense artillery and anti-tank fire. As it was of vital importance that his Battalion should not give ground, Lieutenant Colonel Foote placed his tank, which he had then entered, in front of the others so that he could be plainly visible in the turret as an encouragement to the other crews, in spite of the tank being badly damaged by shell fire and all its guns rendered useless.

By his magnificent example the corridor was kept open and the Brigade was able to march through.

Lieutenant Colonel Foote was always at the crucial point at the right moment, and over a period of several days gave an example of outstanding courage and leadership which it would have been difficult to surpass. His name was a by-word for bravery and leadership throughout the Brigade.

Henry Foote was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George VI at Buckingham Palace on 12th December 1944.


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Iain Stewart, 5 May 2021