29 June 2004

The Victoria Cross awarded to Captain Theodore Wright during the retreat from Mons in August 1914 has been left to the Royal Engineers Museum in Gillingham, Kent. Descendants of Captain Wright, who was killed three weeks later on the River Aisne, presented his VC, campaign medals and Memorial Plaque to the museum, together with the letters relating to the award of the VC and the wooden cross which originally marked Wright's grave in France.

( select to enlarge )
Medal entitlement of Captain Theodore Wright,
57th Field Company, Royal Engineers
  • Victoria Cross
  • 1914 Star + clasp "5th Aug-22nd Nov 1914"
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 )

Mons, 23rd August 1914, a company of the Royal Scots Fusiliers was holding a barricade at the north end of a bridge over the Mons-Condé canal. By this time the firing on the position had become so violent and the casualties were so numerous that a retirement had been decided on. Corporal Alfred Jarvis of the Royal Engineers was then called upon to to destroy the bridge but was without the exploder and leads. It was then that he met Captain Theodore Wright, who had been wounded in the head, who told him to go back to the bridge and he would bring the necessary equipment.

It was whilst attempting to connect the leads under the bridge to blow it that Theodore Wright earned his Victoria Cross. Time and again he tried to get at the end of the leads but each time he raised his head above the level of the towpath he was fired upon from about thirty yards off. Eventually he gave up the attempt and in swinging himself back under the girder of the bridge he lost his grip and owing to exhaustion fell into the canal, and was pulled out by a Sergeant Smith. ( Corporal Alfred Jarvis was also awarded the Victoria Cross for this same action ).

At Vailly, on the 14th September 1914, Theodore Wright assisted the passage of the 5th Cavalry Brigade over a pontoon bridge, and was mortally wounded whilst assisting wounded men into shelter. An officer of the Scots Greys wrote in a letter later "We got across the river the day before yesterday a bit before our time and we had to go back over a pontoon bridge considerably quicker than was pleasant, under a very heavy fire too. At the end of the bridge was an Engineer officer repairing bits blown off and putting down straw as cool as a cucumber - the finest thing I ever saw. The poor fellow was killed just after my troops got across. No man earned a better Victoria Cross."

For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 16 November 1914 ], Mons, France, 23 August 1914, Captain Theodore Wright, 57th Field Company, Corps of Royal Engineers.

For gallantry at Mons on 23rd August 1914 in attempting to connect up the lead to demolish a bridge under heavy fire, although wounded in the head he made a second attempt. At Vailly on 14th September 1914, he assisted the passage of 5th Cavalry Brigade over the pontoon bridge and was mortally wounded whilst assisting wounded men into shelter.

Captain Theodore Wright is buried in the Vailly British Cemetery, 10 miles East of Soissons, France.


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Iain Stewart, 29 June 2004