17 February 2013

Victoria Cross: O. C. S. Watson


Major (acting Lieutenant-Colonel), King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry

Born: 7 September 1876, Cavendish Square, London
Died: 28 March 1918, Rossignol Wood, near Hebuterne, France

Citation: For most conspicuous bravery, self-sacrificing devotion to duty, and exceptionally gallant leading during a critical period of operations.
His command was at a point where continual attacks were made by the enemy in order to pierce the line [at Rossignol Wood, north of Hebuterne, France], and an intricate system of old trenches in front, coupled with the fact that his position was under constant rifle and machine-gun fire, rendered the situation still more dangerous.
A counter-attack had been made against the enemy position, which at first achieved its object, but as they were holding out in two improvised strong points, Lt-Col Watson saw that immediate action was necessary, and he led his remaining small reserve to the attack, organising bombing parties and leading attacks under intense rifle and machinegun fire.
Outnumbered, he finally ordered his men to retire, remaining himself in a communication trench to cover the retirement, though he faced almost certain death by so doing. The assault he led was at a critical moment, and without doubt saved the line. Both in the assault and in covering his men's retirement, he held his life as nothing, and his splendid bravery inspired all troops in the vicinity to rise to the occasion and save a breach being made in a hardly tried and attenuated line.
Lt-Col Watson was killed while covering the withdrawal.

[London Gazette issue 30675 dated 8 May 1918, published 7 May 1918.]

03 February 2013

George Cross: R. T. Donoghue


Tram Conductor, Metropolitan Transport Trust

Born: 10 December 1920, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Died: 29 April 1960, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Citation: During a peak traffic period, Mr. Donoghue was on duty as a tram conductor. As a result of an accident the tram became out of control and started to run backwards, rapidly gaining speed, on a steep hill. He could easily have saved his life, either by leaving the tram or by passing into the rear of the compartment to which he had moved the passengers. Realising the danger in the dense traffic, he deliberately scorned the way of safety so that he might, by continuous ringing of the alarm bell, warn other traffic, while attempting by the use of the brake to arrest the vehicle. At the bottom of the hill the runaway tram collided with a stationary tram. Donoghue was still at his post at the moment of impact and was killed. By sacrificing his life Donoghue was responsible for saving the lives of a number of other persons.

[London Gazette issue 42162 dated 11 Oct 1960, published 7 Oct 1960.]

Note: Donoghue served with 2nd/12th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force in Britain, the Middle East and Greece, where he was captured by the Germans on 28 April 1941, remaining a POW until 8 May 1945.