World War II

Victoria Cross Recipients

The Victoria Cross medal is one of the most prestigious awards in the world. The brave recipients have all done something exceptional, and this page is to commemorate the Victoria Cross winners of World War 2.

23 VC’s were awarded at Sea, 127 to Land actions and 32 to valour in the Air.
Broken down across the six years of fighting:
1940 – 16, 1941 – 22, 1942 – 33, 1943 – 25, 1944 – 52, 1945 – 34.

Credit to ww2talk.com forum

World War II Victoria Cross Recipients

Malcolm David Wanklyn

Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Unit: HM Submarine Upholder, Royal Navy
Awarded: 3rd March 1943
Nationality: British

The Citation in the London Gazette of 16th December, 1944, gives the following details:

On 24th May, 1941, while off the coast of Sicily, Lieutenant-Commander Wanklyn, in command of H.M. Submarine Upholder, sighted an enemy troop convoy escorted by destroyers. Observation by periscope could not be relied on, owing to failing light, and a surface attack would have been easily seen. Upholder's listening gear was out of action. Despite these difficulties, Lieutenant-Commander Wanklyn, though aware of the risk of being rammed by the escorting destroyers pressed home his attack and sank a large troopship.

On 24th May, 1941, while off the coast of Sicily, Lieutenant-Commander Wanklyn, in command of H.M. Submarine Upholder, sighted an enemy troop convoy escorted by destroyers. Observation by periscope could not be relied on, owing to failing light, and a surface attack would have been easily seen. Upholder's listening gear was out of action. Despite these difficulties, Lieutenant-Commander Wanklyn, though aware of the risk of being rammed by the escorting destroyers pressed home his attack and sank a large troopship. The destroyers at once counter-attacked, and dropped thirty-seven depth charges. With great courage, coolness and skill, and without listening gear, Lieutenant-Commander Wanklyn brought Upholder clear and back to harbour. Before this outstanding attack and since being made a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order, Lieutenant-Commander Wanklyn had torpedoed a tanker and a merchant vessel. He continued to show the utmost courage in the face of the enemy, and carried out attacks on enemy vessels with skill and relentless determination, sinking one destroyer, one U-boat, two troop transports, one tanker and three supply ships. He also probably destroyed, by torpedoes, one cruiser and one destroyer, and probably hit another cruiser.

More Info Less Info

Arthur Roden Cutler

Rank: Lieutenant
Unit: 5th Field Artillery, Australian Military Forces
Awarded: 11th June 1942
Nationality: Australian

The citation in the London Gazette of 28th November, 1941, gives the following particulars:

For most conspicuous and sustained gallantry during the Syrian Campaign and for outstanding bravery during the bitter fighting at Merdjayoun when this artillery officer became a byword amongst the forward troops with whom he worked.

For most conspicuous and sustained gallantry during the Syrian Campaign and for outstanding bravery during the bitter fighting at Merdjayoun when this artillery officer became a byword amongst the forward troops with whom he worked. At Merdjayoun on the 19th June, 1941 our infantry attack was checked after suffering heavy casualties from an enemy counter attack with tanks. Enemy machine gun fire swept the ground but Lieutenant Cutler with another artillery officer and a small party pushed on ahead of the infantry and established an outpost in a house. The telephone line was cut and he went out and mended this line under machine gun fire and returned to the house, from which enemy posts and a battery were successfully engaged. The enemy then attacked this outpost with infantry and tanks, killing the Bren gunner and mortally wounding the other officer. Lieutenant Cutler and another manned the anti-tank rifle and Bren gun and fought back driving the enemy infantry away. The tanks continued the attack, but under constant fire from the anti-tank rifle and Bren gun eventually withdrew. Lieutenant Cutler then personally supervised the evacuation of the wounded members of his party. Undaunted he pressed for a further advance. He had been ordered to establish an outpost from which he could register the only road by which the enemy transport could enter the town. With a small party of volunteers he pressed on until finally with one other he succeeded in establishing an outpost right in the town, which was occupied by the Foreign Legion, despite enemy machine gun fire which, prevented our infantry from advancing. At this tune Lieutenant Cutler knew the enemy were massing on his left for a counter attack and that he was in danger of being cut off. Nevertheless he carried out his task of registering the battery on the road and engaging enemy posts. The enemy counter attacked with infantry and tanks and he was cut off. He was forced to go to ground, but after dark succeeded in making his way through the enemy lines. His work in registering the only road by which enemy transport could enter the town was of vital importance and a big factor in the enemy's subsequent retreat. On the night of the 23rd-24th June he was in charge of a 25-pounder sent forward into our forward defended localities to silence an enemy anti-tank gun and post which had held up our attack. This he did and next morning the recapture of Merdjayoun was completed. Later at Damour on the 6th July when our forward infantry were pinned to the ground by heavy hostile machine gun fire Lieutenant Cutler, regardless of all danger, went to bring a line to his outpost when he was seriously wounded. Twenty six hours elapsed before it was possible to rescue this officer, whose wound by this time had become septic necessitating the amputation of his leg. Throughout the Campaign this officer's courage was unparalleled and his work was a big factor in the recapture of Merdjayoun.

More Info Less Info

Hughie Idwal Edwards

Rank: Acting Wing Commander
Unit: No.105 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Awarded: 17th February 1942
Nationality: Australian

The Citation in the London Gazette of 22nd July, 1941, gives the following details:

Wing Commander Edwards, although handicapped by a physical disability resulting from a flying accident, has repeatedly displayed gallantry of the highest order in pressing home bombing attacks from very low heights against strongly defended objectives.

Wing Commander Edwards, although handicapped by a physical disability resulting from a flying accident, has repeatedly displayed gallantry of the highest order in pressing home bombing attacks from very low heights against strongly defended objectives. On 4th July, 1941 he led an important attack on the Port of Bremen, one of the most heavily defended towns in Germany. This attack had to be made in daylight and there were no clouds to afford concealment. During the approach to the German coast several enemy ships were sighted and Wing Commander Edwards knew that his aircraft would be reported and that the defences would be in a state of readiness. Undaunted by this misfortune he brought his formation 50 miles overland to the target, flying at a height of little more than 50 feet, passing under high-tension cables, carrying away telegraph wires and finally passing through a formidable balloon barrage. On reaching Bremen he was met with a hail of fire, all his aircraft being hit and four of them being destroyed. Nevertheless he made a most successful attack, and then with the greatest skill and coolness withdrew the surviving aircraft without further loss. Throughout the execution of this operation which he had planned personally with full knowledge of the risks entailed, Wing Commander Edwards displayed the highest possible standard of gallantry and determination.

More Info Less Info

James Allen Ward

Rank: Sergeant
Unit: No.75 (NZ) Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force
Awarded: 16th October 1942
Nationality: New Zealander

The citation in the London Gazette for 5th August, 1941 gives the following details:

On the night of 7th July, 1941, Sergeant Ward was second pilot of a Wellington returning from an attack on Munster. When flying over the Zuider Zee at 13,000 feet, the aircraft was attacked from beneath by a Messerschmitt no which secured hits with cannon shell and incendiary bullets. The rear gunner was wounded in the foot but delivered a burst of fire which sent the enemy fighter down, apparently out of control.

On the night of 7th July, 1941, Sergeant Ward was second pilot of a Wellington returning from an attack on Munster. When flying over the Zuider Zee at 13,000 feet, the aircraft was attacked from beneath by a Messerschmitt no which secured hits with cannon shell and incendiary bullets. The rear gunner was wounded in the foot but delivered a burst of fire which sent the enemy fighter down, apparently out of control. Fire then broke out near the starboard engine and, fed by petrol from a split pipe, quickly gained an alarming hold and threatened to spread to the entire wing. The crew forced a hole in the fuselage and made strenuous efforts to reduce the fire with extinguishers and even the coffee in their vacuum flasks, but without success. They were then warned to be ready to abandon the aircraft. As a last resort, Sergeant Ward volunteered to make an attempt to smother the fire with an engine cover which happened to be in use as a cushion. At first he proposed to discard his parachute, to reduce wind resistance, but was finally persuaded to take it. A rope from the dinghy was tied to him, though this was of little help and might have become a danger had he been blown off the aircraft. With the help of the navigator, he then climbed through the narrow astro-hatch and put on his parachute. The bomber was flying at a reduced speed but the wind pressure must have been sufficient to render the operation one of extreme difficulty. Breaking the fabric to make hand and foot holds where necessary, and also taking advantage of existing holes in the fabric, Sergeant Ward succeeded in descending three feet to the wing and proceeding another three feet to a position behind the engine, despite the slipstream from the airscrew, which nearly blew him off the wing. Lying in this precarious position, he smothered the fire in the wing fabric and tried to push the cover into the hole in the wing and on to the leaking pipe from which the fire came. As soon as he removed his hand, however, the terrific wind blew the cover out and when he tried again it was lost. Tired as he was, he was able with the navigator's assistance, to make successfully the perilous journey back into the aircraft. There was now no danger of the fire spreading from the petrol pipe, as there was no fabric left nearby, and in due course it burnt itself out. When the aircraft was nearly home some petrol which had collected in the wing blazed up furiously but died down quite suddenly. A safe landing was then made despite the damage sustained by the aircraft. The flight home had been made possible by the gallant action of Sergeant Ward in extinguishing the fire on the wing, in circumstances of the greatest difficulty and at the risk of his life.

More Info Less Info

James Heather Gordon

Rank: Private
Unit: 2/31st Battalion, Australian Military Forces
Awarded: 26th September 1942
Nationality: Australian

The citation in the London Gazette of 28thOctober, 1941, gives the following particulars:

On the night of 10th July, 1941, during an attack on "Greenhill," north of Djezzine, Private Gordon's Company came under intense machine-gun fire and its advance was held up. Movement even by single individuals became almost impossible, one officer and two men being killed and two men wounded in the effort to advance. The enemy machine gun position, which had brought the two forward platoons to a halt, was fortified and completely covered the area occupied by our forces.

On the night of 10th July, 1941, during an attack on "Greenhill," north of Djezzine, Private Gordon's Company came under intense machine-gun fire and its advance was held up. Movement even by single individuals became almost impossible, one officer and two men being killed and two men wounded in the effort to advance. The enemy machine gun position, which had brought the two forward platoons to a halt, was fortified and completely covered the area occupied by our forces. Private Gordon, on his own initiative, crept forward over an area swept by machine gun and grenade fire and succeeded in approaching close to the post; he then charged it from the front and killed the four machine gunners with the bayonet. His action completely demoralised the enemy in this sector and the Company advanced and took the position. During the remainder of the action that night and on the following day Private Gordon, who has throughout the operations shown a high degree of courage, fought with equal gallantry.

More Info Less Info

Alfred Edward Sephton

Rank: Petty Officer
Unit: HMS Coventry, Royal Navy
Awarded: 23rd June 1942
Nationality: British

The citation in the London Gazette of 28th November, 1941, gives the following particulars:

Petty Officer Sephton was Director Layer when H.M.S. Coventry was attacked by aircraft, whose fire grievously wounded him. In mortal pain and faint from loss of blood he stood fast doing his duty without fault until the Enemy was driven off. Thereafter until his death his valiant and cheerful spirit gave heart to the wounded. His high example inspired his shipmates and will live in their memory.

Petty Officer Sephton was Director Layer when H.M.S. Coventry was attacked by aircraft, whose fire grievously wounded him. In mortal pain and faint from loss of blood he stood fast doing his duty without fault until the Enemy was driven off. Thereafter until his death his valiant and cheerful spirit gave heart to the wounded. His high example inspired his shipmates and will live in their memory.

More Info Less Info

Geoffrey Charles Tasker Keyes

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Unit: (2nd Dragoons), Royal Scots Greys, Royal Armoured Corps, British Army
Awarded: 12th December 1942
Nationality: British

The citation in the London Gazette of the 19th June, 1942, gives the following details:

Lieutenant-Colonel Keyes commanded a detachment of a force .which landed some 250 miles behind the enemy lines to attack Headquarters, Base Installations and Communications.

Lieutenant-Colonel Keyes commanded a detachment of a force .which landed some 250 miles behind the enemy lines to attack Headquarters, Base Installations and Communications. From the outset Lieutenant-Colonel Keyes deliberately selected for himself the command of the detachment detailed to attack what was undoubtedly the most hazardous of these objectives the residence and Headquarters of the General Officer Commanding the German forces in North Africa. This attack, even if initially successful, meant almost certain death for those who took part in it. He led his detachment without guides, in dangerous and precipitous country and in pitch darkness, and maintained by his stolid determination and powers of leadership the morale of the detachment. He then found himself forced to modify his original plans in the light of fresh information elicited from neighbouring Arabs, and was left with only one officer and an N.C.O. with whom to break into General Rommel's residence and deal with the guards and Headquarters Staff. At zero hour on the night of 17th-18th November, 1941, having despatched the covering party to block the approaches to the house, he himself with the two others crawled forward past the guards, through the surrounding fence and so up to the house itself. Without hesitation, he boldly led his party up to the front door, beat on the door and demanded entrance. Unfortunately, when the door was opened, it was found impossible to overcome the sentry silently, and it was necessary to shoot him. The noise of the shot naturally aroused the inmates of the house and Lieutenants-Colonel Keyes, appreciating that speed was now of the utmost importance, posted the N.C.O. at the foot of the stairs to prevent interference from the floor above. Lieutenant-Colonel Keyes, who instinctively took the lead, emptied his revolver with great success into the first room and was followed by the other officer who threw a grenade. Lieutenant-Colonel Keyes with great daring then entered the second room on the ground floor but was shot almost immediately on flinging open the door and fell back into, the passage mortally wounded. On being carried outside by his companions he died within a few minutes. By his fearless disregard of the great dangers which he ran and of which he was fully aware, and by his magnificent leadership and outstanding gallantry, Lieutenant-Colonel Keyes set an example of supreme self sacrifice and devotion to duty.

More Info Less Info

George Ward Gunn

Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Unit: 3rd Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery, British Army
Awarded: 20th October 1942
Nationality: British

The following details are given in the London Gazette of April 17th, 1942:

On the 21st November, 1941, at Sidi Rezegh, Second-Lieutenant Gunn was in command of a troop of four anti-tank guns which was part of a battery of twelve guns attached to the Rifle Brigade Column.

On the 21st November, 1941, at Sidi Rezegh, Second-Lieutenant Gunn was in command of a troop of four anti-tank guns which was part of a battery of twelve guns attached to the Rifle Brigade Column. At 10.00 hours a covering force of enemy tanks was engaged and driven off but an hour later the main attack developed by about sixty enemy tanks. Second-Lieutenant Gunn drove from gun to gun during this period in an un-armoured vehicle encouraging his men and reorganising his dispositions as first one gun and then another were knocked out. Finally only two guns remained in action and were subjected to very heavy fire. Immediately afterwards one of these guns was destroyed and the portee of another was set on fire and all the crew killed or wounded except the Sergeant, though the gun itself remained undamaged. The Battery Commander then arrived and started to fight the flames. When-he saw this, Second-Lieutenant Gunn ran to his aid through intense fire and immediately got the one remaining anti-tank gun into action on the burning portee, himself sighting it while the Sergeant acted as loader. He continued to fight the gun, firing between forty and fifty rounds regardless alike of the enemy fire which was by then concentrated on this one vehicle, and of the flames which might at any moment have reached the ammunition with which the portee was loaded. In spite of this, Second-Lieutenant Gunn's shooting was so accurate at a range of about 800 yards that at least two enemy tanks were hit and set on fire and others were damaged before he fell dead, having been shot through the forehead. Second-Lieutenant Gunn showed the most conspicuous courage in attacking this large number of enemy tanks with a single un-armoured gun, and his utter disregard for extreme danger was an example which inspired all who saw it. He remained undismayed by intense fire and overwhelming odds, and his gallant resistance only ceased with his death. But for this very gallant action the enemy tanks would undoubtedly have over run our position.

More Info Less Info

John Beeley

Rank: Rifleman
Unit: 1st Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, British Army
Awarded: 20th October 1942
Nationality: British

The following details are given in the London Gazette of April 17th, 1942:

On the 21st November, 1941, during the attack by a Battalion of The King's Royal Rifle Corps at Sidi Rezegh against a strong enemy position, the Company to which Rifleman Beeley belonged was pinned down by heavy fire at point-blank range from the front and flank on the flat and open ground of the aerodrome.

On the 21st November, 1941, during the attack by a Battalion of The King's Royal Rifle Corps at Sidi Rezegh against a strong enemy position, the Company to which Rifleman Beeley belonged was pinned down by heavy fire at point-blank range from the front and flank on the flat and open ground of the aerodrome. All the officers but one of the Company and many of the other ranks had been either killed or wounded. On his own initiative, and when there was no sort of cover, Rifleman Beeley got to his feet carrying a Bren Gun and ran forward towards a strong enemy post containing an anti-tank gun, a heavy machine gun and a light machine gun. He ran thirty yards and discharged a complete magazine at the post from a range of twenty yards, killing or wounding the entire crew of the anti-tank gun. The post was silenced and Rifleman Beeley's platoon was enabled to advance, but Rifleman Beeley fell dead across his gun, hit in at least four places. Rifleman Beeley went to certain death in a gallant and successful attempt to carry the day. His courage and self-sacrifice was a glorious example to his comrades and inspired them to further efforts to reach their objective, which was eventually captured by them, together with 700 prisoners.

More Info Less Info

John Charles (Jock) Campbell

Rank: Brigadier
Unit: Royal Horse Artillery, British Army
Awarded: 20th October 1942
Nationality: British

The following particulars are given in The London Gazette of 30th January, 1942:

n recognition of most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty at Sidi Rezegh, in Libya. On the 21st November Brigadier Campbell was commanding the troops, including one regiment of tanks, in the area of Sidi Rezegh ridge and the aerodrome His small force holding this important ground was repeatedly attacked by large numbers of tanks and infantry.

n recognition of most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty at Sidi Rezegh, in Libya. On the 21st November Brigadier Campbell was commanding the troops, including one regiment of tanks, in the area of Sidi Rezegh ridge and the aerodrome His small force holding this important ground was repeatedly attacked by large numbers of tanks and infantry. Wherever the situation was most difficult and the fighting hardest he was to be seen with his forward troops, either on his feet or in his open car In this car he carried out several reconnaissance’s for counter-attacks by his tanks, whose senior officers had all become casualties early in the day. Standing in his car with a blue flag, this officer personally formed up tanks under close and intense fire from all natures of enemy weapons. On the following day the enemy attacks were intensified and again Brigadier Campbell was always in the forefront of the heaviest fighting, encouraging his troops, staging counter-attacks with his remaining tanks and personally controlling the fire of his guns. On two occasions he himself manned a gun to replace casualties. During the final enemy attack on the 22nd November he was wounded, but continued most actively in the foremost positions, controlling the fire of batteries which inflicted heavy losses on enemy tanks at point blank range, and finally acted as loader to one of the guns himself. Throughout these two days his magnificent example and his utter disregard of personal danger were an inspiration to his men and to all who saw him. His brilliant leadership was the direct cause of the very heavy casualties inflicted on the enemy In spite of his wound he refused to be evacuated and remained with his command, where his outstanding bravery and consistent determination had a marked effect in maintaining the splendid fighting spirit of those under him.

More Info Less Info

Philip John Gardner

Rank: Lieutenant Acting Captain
Unit: Royal Tank Regiment, British Army
Awarded: 18th May 1945
Nationality: British

The following particulars are given in The London Gazette, of 6th February 1942:

On the morning of November 23rd, 1941, Captain Gardner was ordered to take two tanks to the assistance of two armoured cars of the King's Dragoon Guards which were out of action and under fire in close proximity to the enemy, southeast of Tobruk. He found the two cars halted two hundred yards apart, being heavily fired on at close range and gradually smashed to pieces.

On the morning of November 23rd, 1941, Captain Gardner was ordered to take two tanks to the assistance of two armoured cars of the King's Dragoon Guards which were out of action and under fire in close proximity to the enemy, southeast of Tobruk. He found the two cars halted two hundred yards apart, being heavily fired on at close range and gradually smashed to pieces. Ordering the other tank to give him covering fire, Captain Gardner manoeuvred his own close up to the foremost car; he then dismounted in the face of intense anti-tank and machine gun fire and secured a tow rope to the car; seeing an officer lying beside it with his legs blown off, he lifted him into the car and gave the order to tow. The tow rope, however, broke, and Captain Gardner returned to the armoured car, being immediately wounded in the arm and leg: despite his wounds he lifted the other officer out of the car and carried him back to the tank, placing him on the back engine louvres and climbing alongside to hold him on. While the tank was being driven back to safety it was subjected to heavy shell fire and the loader killed. The courage, determination and complete disregard for his own safety displayed by Captain Gardner enabled him, despite his own wounds, and in the face of intense fire at close range, to save the life of his fellow officer, in circumstances fraught with great difficulty and danger.

More Info Less Info

James Joseph Bernard Jackman

Rank: Lieutenant Temporary Captain
Unit: The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, British Army
Awarded: 20th October 1942
Nationality: Irish

The citation in the London Gazette of the 27th March, 1942, gives the following details:

On 25th November, 1941, at Ed Duda, South East of Tobruk, Captain Jackman showed outstanding gallantry and devotion to duty above all praise when he was in command of a Machine Gun Company of The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers in the Tank attack on the Ed Duda ridge. His magnificent bearing was contributory in a large measure to the success of a most difficult and hard fought action. As the tanks reached the crest of the rise they were met by extremely intense fire from a large number of guns of all descriptions the fire was so heavy that it was doubtful for a moment whether the Brigade could maintain its hold on the position.

On 25th November, 1941, at Ed Duda, South East of Tobruk, Captain Jackman showed outstanding gallantry and devotion to duty above all praise when he was in command of a Machine Gun Company of The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers in the Tank attack on the Ed Duda ridge. His magnificent bearing was contributory in a large measure to the success of a most difficult and hard fought action. As the tanks reached the crest of the rise they were met by extremely intense fire from a large number of guns of all descriptions the fire was so heavy that it was doubtful for a moment whether the Brigade could maintain its hold on the position. The tanks having slowed to "hull-down" positions, settled to beat down the enemy fire, during which time Captain Jackman rapidly pushed up the ridge leading his Machine Gun trucks and saw at once that Anti-Tank Guns were firing at the flank of the tanks, as well as the rows of batteries which the tanks were engaging on their front. He immediately started to get his guns into action as calmly as though he were on manoeuvres and so secured the right flank. Then, standing up in the front of his truck, with calm determination he led his trucks across the front between the tanks and the guns there was no other road to get them into action on the left flank. Most of the tank commanders saw him, and his exemplary devotion to duty regardless of danger not only inspired his own men but clinched the determination of the tank crews never to relinquish the position which they had gained. Throughout he coolly directed the guns to their positions and indicated targets to them and at that time seemed to bear a charmed life but later he was killed while still inspiring everyone with the greatest confidence by his bearing.

More Info Less Info