10th November 2002

Through the efforts of two local Dartmouth historians, a ceremony was held on Remembrance Sunday to commemorate the life of Private Theodore Veale VC, 8th Bn, The Devonshire Regiment. A memorial plaque to Veale was unveiled in the town by his daughter, Theodora Grindell, on 10th November 2002.

In attendance was Veale's granddaughter; relatives of Sir Eric Savill, who Veale had saved; members of the Devonshire & Dorset Regiment; the Regimental Band, the Royal British Legion; and a guard of honour was provided by cadets of Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. Theodore Veale's daughter proudly wore her father's original Victoria Cross medal group during the ceremony, kindly loaned by the Devonshire & Dorset Regiment Museum, based in The Keep, Dorchester.

For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 9 September 1916 ]. The Somme, France, 20 July 1916, Private Theodore William Henry Veale, 8th Bn, The Devonshire Regiment.

For most conspicuous bravery ( East of Highwood, France ).

Hearing that a wounded officer was lying out in front, Private Veale went out in search, and found him lying amidst growing corn within fifty yards of the enemy. He dragged the officer to a shell hole, returned for water and took it out. Finding he could not single-handed carry in the officer, he returned for assistance, and took out two volunteers. One of the party was killed when carrying the officer, and heavy fire necessitated leaving the officer in a shell hole.

At dusk Private Veale went out again with volunteers to bring in the officer. Whilst doing this an enemy patrol was observed approaching. Private Veale at once went back and procured a Lewis gun, and with the fire of the gun he covered the party, and the officer was finally carried to safety. The courage and determination displayed was of the highest order.

Theodore Veale was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 5th February 1917.

Theodore Veale in his own words after seeing a wounded man waving his hand for assistance.

"I flopped down onto the ground, but got up again and ran on to the spot where the man was waving. To my surprise it was one of our wounded officers, Lieutenant Savill. I laid down and did all I could for him, and I was well fired at whilst I was there. Savill was so close to the Germans I pulled him back about 15 yards, for I found to my surprise that I was only about ten yards from them. I pulled him back, thinking they were going to pull him in. I went back to get some water, and I took it back out to Lieutenant Savill. They fired at me again, and it was surprising how it was that I was not hit. But I meant to save him at all costs; because it was all so open I had to crawl back again, got two more men and a corporal to come with a waterproof sheet, which we put Savill on.

We tried to pull Savill back. We got about 80 yards, and then had to rest. The corporal stood up like on his knees and we saw five Germans pop up out of the grass about 100 yards away. We had to go over a bit of a bridge, and they shot the corporal ( Cpl Allen ) through the head. That made the other two with me nervous, and they wanted to get back. So I said "Get back, and I'll manage." So they went and I pulled the wounded officer into a hole and left him comfortable, and went back. Then I sent a team out to cover any of the Germans that might try to fire at Savill, and tracked out to him myself again with water."

Later Veale went out again with the Chaplain who was also acting as stretcher bearer, Lt Duff and Sgt Smith. They reached Savill just before dark and when they were going to get him home they spotted another group of Germans creeping up. Duff covered the Germans with his revolver while Veale, risking his life again, ran back for his Lewis gun, a total of 150 yards, and then raced back. At this fifth attempt, with fire of the Lewis gun, Private Veale covered the party and the officer was finally carried to safety.

Theodore Veale died on 6th November 1980, aged 89, at his daughter's home in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire. He was cremated at Enfield Crematorium, Middlesex, and his ashes scattered in the area.

Medal entitlement of Corporal Theodore Veale VC - 8th Bn, The Devonshire Regiment

  • Victoria Cross
  • 1914-15 Star
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 ) + MiD Oakleaf
  • 1939-45 Star
  • Defence Medal ( 1939-45 )
  • War Medal ( 1939-45 )
  • King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal ( 1977 )


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Iain Stewart, 14 November 2002