Personal info

  • Name: Richard Annesley WEST
  • D.O.B: 26th September, 1878
  • D.O.A: 2nd September, 1918
  • D.O.D: 2nd September, 1918
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Acting Lieutenant Colonel, North Irish Horse (Cavalry Special Reserve), attached 6th Light Tank Battalion, 2nd Tank Brigade
  • Book: The Complete History - Volume 2
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Courcelles-le-Comte, France 21 August 1918; Lagnicourt, France 2 September 1918

21 August 1918 and 2 September 1918

More details about:
The First World War 1918 

During the British advance on 21 August 1918, the first day of the Battle of Albert, 6th Tank Battalion and 2nd Battalion The Suffolk Regiment made for the railway running northsouth in the open country between the villages of Courcelles-le-Comte and Gomiécourt, north-west of Bapaume. It was foggy and the troops became disorientated. Acting Lieutenant Colonel R A West, 6th Tank Battalion, collected the men together and led the attack. After Bapaume had fallen to the British on the 29th, the British advanced on 2 September against the Germans east of Arras. At the southern end of this action, infantry and tanks attacked Vaulx Vraucourt, five miles north-east of Bapaume. West was killed while encouraging his men to withstand an enemy counter-attack near Lagnicourt, two miles to the east.

Citation

 For most conspicuous bravery, leadership and self-sacrifice. 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. 

Second Supplement to The London Gazette of 29 October 1918. 30 October 1918, Numb. 30982, p. 12801

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