THE VICTORIA CROSS AWARDED TO LIEUTENANT COLONEL RICHARD WEST HAS BEEN ACQUIRED BY LORD ASHCROFT'S VC COLLECTION.
May 2002

The Victoria Cross, other decorations and campaign medals awarded to Lieutenant Colonel Richard Annesley West, North Irish Horse, attached to the 6th Bn, Tank Corps, have been acquired privately by the Michael Ashcroft Trust, the holding institution for Lord Ashcroft's VC Collection.



( select to enlarge )

Medal entitlement of Lieutenant Colonel Richard West,
North Irish Horse, att'd to 6th Bn, Tank Corps
  • Victoria Cross
  • Distinguished Service Order ( DSO ) & Bar
  • Military Cross ( MC )
  • Queen's South Africa Medal ( 1899-1902 )
    • 3 clasps:
    • "Cape Colony" - "Orange Free State" - "Transvaal"
  • King's South Africa Medal ( 1901-02 )
    • 2 clasps:
    • "South Africa 1901" - "South Africa 1902"
  • 1914 Star + clasp "5th Aug-22nd Nov 1914"
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 ) + MiD Oakleaf

For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 30 October 1918 ], Courcelles & Vaulx Vraucourt, France, 21 August & 2 September 1918, Captain ( Acting Lieutenant Colonel ) Richard Annesley West DSO, MC, North Irish Horse ( Cavalry SR ), att'd 6th Bn, Tank Corps.

For most conspicuous bravery, leadership and self-sacrifice ( Courcelles & Vaulx Vraucourt, France ) During an attack, the infantry having lost their bearings in the dense fog, this officer at once collected and re-organised any men he could find and led them to their objective in face of heavy machine-gun fire.

Throughout the whole action he displayed the most utter disregard of danger, and the capture of the objective was in a great part due to his initiative and gallantry.

On a subsequent occasion it was intended that a battalion of light Tanks under the command of this officer should exploit the initial infantry and heavy Tank attack. He therefore went forward in order to keep in touch with the progress of the battle, and arrived at the front line when the enemy were in process of delivering a local counter-attack.

The infantry battalion had suffered heavy officer casualties, and its flanks were exposed. Realising that there was a danger of the battalion giving way, he at once rode out in front of them under extremely heavy machine-gun and rifle fire and rallied the men. In spite of the fact that the enemy were close upon him he took charge of the situation and detailed non-commissioned officers to replace officer casualties. He then rode up and down in front of them in face of certain death, encouraging the men and calling to them, “Stick it men; show them fight; and for God’s sake put up a good fight.” He fell riddled by machine-gun bullets.

The magnificent bravery of this very gallant officer at the critical moment inspired the infantry to redoubled efforts, and the hostile attack was defeated.


Richard West is buried in the Mory Abbey Military Cemetery, France, four miles North of Bapaume.


[ London Gazette, 1 January 1918 ], Created a Companion to the Distinguished Service Order ( DSO ), Major Richard Annesley West, North Irish Horse

His squadron was sent forward to reinforce the right flank of the Brigade under very heavy shell and machine-gun fire. By his excellent example, rapid grasp of the situation and skilful disposition of his squadron, he did much to avert an impending counter-attack. He had shown great ability in command since July 1915.


[ London Gazette, 7 November 1918 ], For the award of the Military Cross, Major Richard Annesley West VC, DSO, 6th Bn, Tank Corps

During the advance on 8th August 1918 at Guillencourt, in command of a company of Light Tanks, he displayed magnificent leadership and personal bravery. He was able to point out many targets to his Tanks that they would not otherwise have seen. During the day he had two horses shot under him, while he and his orderly between them killed five of the enemy and took seven prisoners. On the 10th he rendered great services to the Cavalry by personally reconnoitring the ground in front of Le Quesnoy, and later in the day, under very heavy machine-gun fire, rallied and organized the crews of the Tanks that had been ditched, withdrawing them after dark.


[ London Gazette, 7 November 1918 ], For the award of a Bar to the Distinguished Service Order ( DSO ), Major Richard Annesley West VC, DSO, MC, 6th Bn, Tank Corps

In consequence of this action being fought in a thick mist, this officer decided to accompany the attack to assist in maintaining direction and cohesion. This he did mounted, until his horse was shot under him, then on foot until the final objective was reached. During the advance, in addition to directing his Tanks, he rallied and led forward small bodies of Infantry lost in the mist, showing throughout a fine example of leadership and total disregard of personal safety, and materially contributed to the success of the operations. Major West was in command of the battalion most of the time, his Commanding Officer having been killed early in the action. The consistant gallantry displayed by this officer throughout the operations since 8th August has been remarkable.

Acquisitions

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Iain Stewart, May 2002