12 August 2004

A ceremony organised by the Royal Highland Fusiliers, Mrs Mary Fairbairn of Abercorn Memorials, Edinburgh, and Union Lodge Dunfermline 250, took place on the 12th August 2004 in Dunfermline Cemetery, to place a memorial stone over the previously unmarked grave of Sergeant David Hunter VC, 1 / 5th Bn, The Highland Light Infantry. A First World War Victoria Cross recipient.

David Hunter's funeral was well attended by the family and various organisations and it is not clear why a headstone was not erected over his grave.

In the second half of September 1918 the main objective of the British was to capture the outer defences of the Hindenburg Line. Corporal David Hunter was a member of the 1 / 5th Bn, The Highland Light Infantry and was in charge of a machine-gun outpost north-west of Moeuvres, west of Cambrai. During an attack by the enemy his post became isolated and overlooked. Two days later, when the division retook Moeuvres, they found Hunter and his six men still holding their post. By then they had virtually no ammunition, food or water left. David Hunter was awarded the Victoria Cross and his six colleagues the Military Medal.

For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 23 October 1918 ], Moeuvres, France, 16-17 September 1918, Corporal David Ferguson Hunter, 1st / 5th Bn, The Highland Light Infantry.

For most conspicuous bravery, determination and devotion to duty ( NW of Moeuvres ). When the battalion to which he belonged relieved another unit in the front line, Corporal Hunter was detailed to take on an advanced post which was established in shell holes close to the enemy. Relief was carried out in darkness, and there was no opportunity of reconnoitering the adjacent ground. On the following afternoon the enemy drove back the posts on Corporal Hunter's flanks and established posts in close proximity to and around him, thus completely isolating his command.

Despite the fact that he was exceedingly short of rations and of water this gallant NCO was determined to hold on to his post to the last. On the evening of the second day he endeavoured to communicate with the company without result. Nevertheless, he maintained his position, and repelled frequent attacks until the evening of the third day, when a counter-attack relieved him. Without food and water he had held on to his post for over forty-eight hours. Not only did he have to withstand constant attacks, but he had also to undergo the barrage fire of the enemy and of our own attacks, which came right across his post. The outstanding bravery, coupled with the determination, fortitude and endurance, displayed by Corporal Hunter is beyond all praise, and is a magnificent example to all.

David Hunter was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 16th November 1918.

Following his discharge, David Hunter returned to Dunfermline and took up his old job as a miner at Dean Colliery, Kingseat. In 1920 he attended the Buckingham Palace Garden Party for VC holders and the same year sat as a model for a bust being made by Jacob Epstein, commissioned by the Imperial War Museum. It was designed to represent all Scots who won the VC in the First World War, and was first displayed at the Royal Academy, then later in the Imperial War Museum, where it still resides.

In 1962, two years before his death, Hunter was prepared to sell his VC as he was finding it increasingly difficult getting about and his twenty-seven-year-old Morris car had recently failed its road test. His family urged him to sell the VC, but in the end this was not necessary, as a London car dealer provided a car on condition that the Cross was kept by Hunter and not sold. His old regiment, The Highland Light Infantry, had been quite prepared to purchase David Hunter's VC group from him but he promised that he would leave it to them on his death anyway. He died on the 14th February 1965, at the age of seventy-three, and was buried in Dunfermline Cemetery. John Carmichael VC and John Hamilton VC both attended his funeral.

Medal entitlement of Sergeant David Hunter VC - 1 / 5th Bn, The Highland Light Infantry

  • Victoria Cross
  • Imperial Service Medal ( ISM )
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 )
  • King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 )
  • Efficiency Medal "Territorial"


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Iain Stewart, 18 January 2005