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Selection of the "6 Before Breakfast"


PhilB

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Bootnecks recently posted:-

The actions of the landings at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915, produced over 20 submitted roports for acts of outstanding bravery by individuals of all ranks, who warrented the award of the Victoria Cross. The War Office themselves, stating that they could not condone so many, ordered that the Lancashire Fusiliers landing force themselves pick three recipients. It was after the original three had been selected by a secret ballot, that the picking of a further three names by the same means was authorised to take place.

Those ranks selected, all being of the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers are:

Capt. C. Bromley

Capt. R.R. Willis

Sgt. A.J. Richards

Sgt. F.E. Stubbs

Cpl. J.E. Grimshaw

Pte. W. Keneally

It`s fairly well known that such a selection took place but I`ve never seen the details. When and where was it done? Was it actually a secret ballot for all ranks and did they have complete choice or was there a list to choose from?

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Phil

I have a recollection of seeing the original ballot results posted somewhere ages ago (although I have to be honest and say it may have been Zeebrugge). There was a list of names with "5 bar gate" type scores against each man.

I'd guess that the first three awarded must have been the top three scorers. I wonder if the nsecond batch were the next three scores or if some alternative process was undertaken.

John

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Phil,

I recommend Geoffrey Moorhouse's book 'Hell's Foundations - A Town, Its Myths & Gallipoli.' In particular this subject is covered in Chapter 6

Briefly, the CO of the 1st Battalion,

"Major H. O Bishop nominated the six after consulting 'the officers who happened to be with him at the time and who did not include either of the officers awarded the cross."

Wolley-Dod backed-up the awards; he was on the beach in person from 2 pm that day

They were also endorsed by Hunter-Weston; though he was still off shore at that crucial time

The War Office were not very happy that the correct procedures had been applied and originally only three VCs were awarded; see the LG 24th August 1915

A year later and there with personnel changes at the WO

Major-General Robb had gone, and a couple of old Gallipoli hands [Wolly-Dod & Davies] were now able to help things along

"On 15th March 1917 the names of Bromley, Stubbs and Grimshaw were added to those of Willis, Richards and Keneally under the same citation."

Also worth noting is Moorhouse's statement that

"It is the only occasion in the entire history of the Victoria Cross when the strict terms of paragraph 13 were waived to allow so many men to be decorated."

regards

Michael

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A couple of further thoughts on this

Moorhouse notes that the subject was so sensitive for the WO that

"the normal thirty-year rule for release of state papers into the public domain was suspended here. The papers did not become available to the Public Record Office until 1968."

And the second thought which occurs to me is that another six VCs were awarded that very same day and just a couple of thousand yards away from W Beach

Unwin, Williams, Drewry, Samson, Malleson and Tisdall; all navy men at V Beach

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Hello all

The VC regulations (possibly the paragraph 13 referred to by Moorhouse) say that, in these circumstances, the officers would select one officer, the WOs and sergeants would choose one of their number, and the rank and file (icluding NCOs below sgt) would choose one of theirs. Selection should have been by secret ballot.

It appears that the LF were allowed a "second bite at the cherry" by having another set of three. If you look at the names given you will see that the first and second groups of three each contained one officer, one sgt and one R&F.

Presumably the six Navy VCs were selected along similar lines: at any rate, they should have been.

Ron

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Hello all

The VC regulations (possibly the paragraph 13 referred to by Moorhouse) say that, in these circumstances, the officers would select one officer, the WOs and sergeants would choose one of their number, and the rank and file (icluding NCOs below sgt) would choose one of theirs. Selection should have been by secret ballot.

Ron

It seems, then, that the regulations were not followed. Maj Bishop nominated the men after consulting certain officers who happened to be with him. This is not what I had imagined to be the case - I`d imagined that all the survivors would have voted. The actual nomination differs little from normal VC recommendation when officer witnesses put names forward?

So what was the ballot result that JH saw (post #2)?

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Phil

Perhaps that's why, as Michaeldr reports, the papers were held back for an extra 20 years at Kew!

That's also why I chose the words "selection should have been by secret ballot."

Ron

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Carefully chosen words, Ron! I`d be interested to know how other members thought the LF men had been selected. Was Rourke`s Drift much different? I suppose it must have been as Chard & Bromhead wouldn`t pick themselves! (Would they?) Presumably they were the officer witness (required for VC recommendation) to each other`s heroic deeds?

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We're there any other examples of a "flood" of V.C. nominations, that either got awarded, or kicked back?* (Zeebrugge already noted...)

* possibly with the note "cheeky so and so" to the C.O.

Steve.

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Phil

As regards Rorke's Drift, I have seen the following:

Originally, the CO of the 24th Foot put forward simply the names of the six ORs of the 24th.

A senior officer added Bromhead and Chard on his own initiative.

Dalton and Reynolds were added following pressure from their respective corps.

Frederick Schiess of the Army Hospital Corps actually asked for it!

It is relevant in this case that, prior to WW1, the VC was most frequently given for rescuing wounded under fire, which is why the six men of the 24th were nominated. This was especially important to the Army when fighting against "uncivilised" enemies who could not be relied upon to treat their wounded enemies sympathetically.

Ron

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It gets murkier, Ron. Bromhead & Chard recommended by an officer who hadn`t witnessed the events - is/was that permissible?

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QUOTE (Phil_B @ Mar 13 2009, 06:04 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
- is/was that permissible?

Yes, if it was on the basis of eye witness accounts. It also happened in WWI; I think one such case was Mick Mannock.

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I think you`re right:-

Eighthly. it is ordained where such act shall not have been performed in sight of a commanding officer aforesaid, then the claimant for the honour shall prove the act to the satisfaction of the captain or officer commanding his ship, or to the officer commanding the regiment to which the claimant belongs, and such captain, or such commanding officer, shall report the same through the usual channel to the admiral or commodore commanding the force employed in the service, or to the officer comanding the forces in the field who shall call for such description and attestation of the act as he may think requisite, and on approval shall recommend the grant of the Decoration.

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When comparing the two sets of six VCs, the Lancashire Fusiliers at W Beach and the Navy at V Beach, the striking difference is that the army's VCs were all made under one collective citation, whereas in the Navy's case, six separate citations were made, albeit, some of them were very short indeed

The collective citation should have meant that a ballot was taken of the survivors and that awards could then be made only to

One Officer, One NCO and Two Privates

The officers were supposed to ballot for the One Officer VC

the NCOs to ballot for their man

all the privates were to ballot for their Two VC winners

On June 11th, 1915 Hamilton's recommendation for six VCs was returned by Major-General F. S. Robb

quote [from Morehouse' book]

"I am directed to return the enclosed recommendations for the award of the Victoria Cross with a request that you will be good enough to state whether the selection of these individuals was made as directed by the 13th paragraph of the Statute governing the grant of the VC. In the event of the procedures not having been followed I am to request that it may now be resorted to, unless such specific acts of bravery can be recorded against each of those recommended, that each can be considered on its merits."

They could not hold a ballot in June because so many of those who took part in the events of 25th April were either dead already by then, or at best, in hospitals spread across the Mediterranean. There were also the problems of the two 'extra' awards (six, not four) and the fact that there was more than one Officer and one NCO

This must be why the WO agreed to only three awards in August 1915

Brigadier-General Owen Wolley-Dod (incidentally, a Lancashire Fusilier!) was able to work with Lieutenant-General Sir F J Davies to correct 'a case of gross injustice' only when the pair of them reached the corridors of power themselves at the end of 1916

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They could not hold a ballot in June because so many of those who took part in the events of 25th April were either dead already by then, or at best, in hospitals spread across the Mediterranean.

I suspect this was often the case with a "ballot" action. The 1st LF had 361 casualties on 25/4/15 but that still leaves more than enough survivors to vote? Whether voting was uppermost in their priorities at that time is another question!

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I think that the failure of the LF to take a ballot after the 25th April, as regulated by the statutes of the VC, was either a mistake or an oversight.

Too many senior members of the regiment had gone; though perhaps Wolley-Dod and the divisional staff should have known better [does this account for his attempt nearly eighteen months later to correct 'a case of gross injustice'?]

By the time that Robb's letter of the 11th June reached the Gallipoli theatre I wonder how many of the original LF were left on the peninsula?

Phil, you say that they had 361 casualties on the 25th April

Ray Westlake in his 'British Regiments at Gallipoli' gives other figures:

Sailed from the UK - 26 officers and 932 other ranks

Roll call after the landing - 11 officers and 399 men

First week of May - strength 250 all ranks

Casualties after IIIrd Krithia - 14 officers and 500 other ranks

These figures do not add up as reinforcement drafts are missing

but there seems reason to believe that by the time that Robb's letter arrived there were precious few left of the LF who were veterans of the landings on 25th April

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Yes, the figures indicate that, by June, casualties had been very high and it is doubtful whether, after accounting for drafts, there were enough left for a worthwhile ballot. If it was going to take place, it had to be fairly quick and wouldn`t have figured high in their priorities. I think we can now conclude that a ballot didn`t actually take place. It`s hard to imagine that the officers disagreed with the major`s nominations so one wonders what criteria were actually used by him.

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Phil

Perhaps that's why, as Michaeldr reports, the papers were held back for an extra 20 years at Kew!

That's also why I chose the words "selection should have been by secret ballot."

Ron

Hi all

I think the holding back of the records may be a red herring - the norm for the release of records under the 1958 Act was 50 years - amended to 30 years by the 1967 Act, hence the release in 1968?

edit: see here http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/policy/act/history.htm

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