THE FIRST WORLD WAR VICTORIA CROSS MEDAL GROUP POSTHUMOUSLY AWARDED TO PRIVATE FRANK LESTER, LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS, HAVE BEEN SOLD AT AUCTION BY MORTON & EDEN.
18 April 2002

The Victoria Cross awarded to Private Frank Lester, 10th Bn, Lancashire Fusiliers, has been sold at auction by the London auctioneers Morton & Eden for a hammer price of £78,000. The VC was purchased on behalf of the Michael Ashcroft Trust, the holding institution for Lord Ashcroft's VC Collection.



Medal entitlement of Private Frank Lester,
10th Bn, Lancashire Fusiliers

  • Victoria Cross
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 )


Frank Lester joined the South Lancashire Regiment in March 1916 and was soon promoted to Sergeant-Instructor, training troops at Press Heath Park and Kinmel Park.

In June 1917 he transferred to the 10th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers, reverting to the rank of private when proceeding overseas. He travelled to France with his regiment in December 1917, but was wounded and hospitalised in March 1918, and returned to England in July being stationed at Cromer on the North Norfolk coast. Returning to France in September 1918 he was to win the Victoria Cross on the 12th October being killed by a German sniper in the process.


For the award of the Victoria Cross:

[ London Gazette, 14 December 1918 ]. Neuvilly, France, 12 October 1918, No. 51674 Private Frank Lester, 10th Bn, Lancashire Fusiliers.

"For most conspicuous gallantry and self-sacrifice during the clearing of the village of Neuvilly, near Le Cateau, on 12th October 1918. With a party of seven men under an officer, Lester was the first to enter a house by the back door, shooting two Germans as they attempted to escape by the front door. A minute later a fall of masonry blocked the door by which the party had entered. The only exit into the street was under fire at point-blank range, the street also being swept by machine-gun fire at close range.

Observing that an enemy sniper was causing heavy casualties to a party in a house across the street, Private Lester exclaimed "I'll settle him" and, dashing out into the street shot the sniper at close quarters, falling mortally wounded at the same instant. Frank Lester well knew it was certain death to go into the street and the party opposite was faced with the alternative of crossing the fire-swept street or staying where it was and being shot one by one. To save their lives, Lester sacrificed his own."


As well as the Victoria Cross won by Frank Lester on this day, the 10th Battalion was also awarded two MCs, one DCM and three MMs for action in and around Neuvilly on the 12th October 1918.

Private Frank Lester VC, is buried in the Neuvilly Communal Cemetery Extension, 3 miles north of Le Cateau, Row B, Grave 15. His name is also on the family grave at Holy Trinity Churchyard, Hoylake.

Acquisitions

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Iain Stewart, 19 April 2002