THE VICTORIA CROSS AWARDED TO SUB-LIEUTENANT ARTHUR TISDALL, R.N.V.R., ANSON BN, ROYAL NAVAL DIVISION, HAS BEEN WITHDRAWN FROM THE ROYAL NAVAL MUSEUM AND SOLD PRIVATELY.
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Medal entitlement of Sub Lieutenant Arthur Tisdall,
RNVR, Anson Bn, Royal Naval Division

  • Victoria Cross
  • 1914 Star + clasp "5th Aug-22 Nov 1914"
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 ) + MiD Oakleaf


Mr. Francis Tisdall and Mrs. Violet Alcock, Tisdall's brother and sister, presented his VC and other medals to the HQ London Division RNR in a ceremony held on HMS 'President' on 28 April 1970. They were received by Rear Admiral Godfrey Place VC on behalf of the RNR. ( Without access to the London Division RNR archives it is unclear under what description the 'presentation' was made by Tisdall's brother and sister. Subsequent events would point towards some sort of 'loan' ).

In 1982 a decision was taken by the London Division RNR to loan the Tisdall VC group to the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth for safekeeping, the museum believing the owner of the VC to be the London Division RNR.

Towards the middle of 2004 the Royal Naval Museum received instructions that the Arthur Tisdall VC should be withdrawn from display and returned to the family, with an indication that the VC was to be sold privately. It was intended that original archive material that had been retained by the London Division RNR was to accompany the Victoria Cross. Whether this material was included in the sale is unclear. The sale to an anonymous buyer, with the assistance of Spinks of London, took place sometime during the middle of 2004.


Arthur Tisdall won his Victoria Cross in a very isolated and anonymous manner whilst assisting with the landings from the SS River Clyde at V Beach, Seddul Bahr, Gallipoli.

Following the landings from SS 'River Clyde' on the 25th April 1915, Arthur Tisdall's platoon had carried out the supply duties that they were originally tasked with. On the 27th Tisdall had written "Have been under fire .... all day spent in burying soldiers. Some of my men killed. Plenty of hard work and enemy shells, and a smell of dead men". His courageous leadership, so evident on the first day, was plain for all to see. For five days the Anson Battalion, including Tisdall's platoon, helped to bolster the newly arrived French, while preparations were made for an advance on Achi Baba. On the 6th May 1915, whilst sheltering in an abandoned Turkish trench, Sub-Lieutenant Arthur Tisdall was shot in the chest by a sniper and died without gaining consciousness.

He was buried where he fell on the 7th May, the news reaching his father in Deal, Kent, three days later. But his actions would almost certainly have gone unrecognised had it not been for his parents' determined lobbying. Lt Cdr Wedgwood had mentioned 'Lieutenant Tisdall's gallant exploit' in a letter to Churchill two days after the landings. But, while many had witnessed his acts of selflessness, none had officially reported them, because of what Wedgwood called his 'anomalous position' as senior officer of a detached platoon.

In the weeks after his death his parents received many letters from officers and men describing their son's heroism. And when his name was not mentioned among those honoured for the V Beach landings they started asking questions: first of Edward Unwin, who had by then been awarded his VC, and then of more senior officers. Eventually, in late 1915, after letters had appeared in "The Times", Major General A. Paris ( GOC RN Division ) ordered an investigation and the result was a recommendation for a posthumous Victoria Cross. Writing in support of honouring Tisdall's actions, Charles Walker, a senior official at the Admiralty, commented:

"Many knew that an Officer of the Royal Naval Division had shown conspicuous bravery but hardly anyone seems to have known his name. If the story as pieced together had been represented at the time, doubtless rewards would have been given, possibly a VC to Sub Lieutenant Tisdall and CGMs to the other four men".


For the award of the Victoria Cross

[ London Gazette, 31 March 1916 ], V Beach, Gallipoli, Turkey, 25 April 1915, Sub-Lieutenant Arthur Walderne St Clair Tisdall, R.N.V.R. ( Anson Bn, Royal Naval Division ).

During the landing from the S.S. "River Clyde" at V Beach in the Gallipoli Peninsula on the 25th April 1915, Sub-Lieutenant Tisdall, hearing wounded men on the beach calling for assistance, jumped into the water and pushing a boat in front of him, went to their rescue. He was, however, obliged to obtain help and took with him on two trips Leading Seaman Malia and on other trips Chief Petty Officer Perring and Leading Seaman Curtiss and Parkinson. In all Sub-Lieutenant Tisdall made four or five trips between the ship and the shore, and was thus responsible for rescuing several wounded men under heavy and accurate fire.

Owing to the fact that Sub-Lieutenant Tisdall and the platoon under his orders were on detached service at the time, and that this Officer was killed in action on the 6th May, it has only now been possible to obtain complete information as to the individuals who took part in this gallant act. Of these, Leading Seaman Fred Curtiss has been missing since the 4th June 1915.

The following awards have been approved to receive the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal ( CGM ): Chief Petty Officer ( now Sub-Lieutenant ) William Perring, Leading Seaman James Malia and Leading Seaman James Parkinson.


Although buried yards from where he fell, Tisdall's body was never recovered. His name is on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli - Panel 8 - 15.

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Iain Stewart, 29 March 2005