From Our Records - April 2015
1st Apr 2015
On 29th April 1917, James Welch won his VC. He was born in Stratfield Saye, Berkshire, in 1889, and enlisted into the Royal Berkshire Regiment in 1908. During the Battle of Arras in 1917 he was awarded the Victoria Cross. His gallantry is described in the citation:
‘For the most conspicuous bravery. On entering the enemy trench he killed one man after a severe hand-to-hand struggle. Armed only with an empty revolver, Lance-Corporal Welch then chased four of the enemy across the open, and captured them single-handed. He handled his machine gun with the utmost fearlessness, and more than once went into the open fully exposed to heavy fire at short range to search for and collected ammunition and spare parts, in order to keep his guns in action, which he succeeded in doing for over five hours, till wounded by a shell. He showed throughout the utmost valour and initiative.’
Subsequently, he was promoted to Sergeant. However, he was later discharged as unfit in 1919. James Welch died in Bournemouth in 1978, aged 88.
Second Battle of Ypres. The Second Battle of Ypres was fought from 22th April until 25th May 1915 for control of the strategic Flemish town of Ypres in western Belgium, following the First Battle of Ypres the previous autumn. It marked the first mass use by Germany of poison gas on the Western Front.
100 years ago between 25th April 1915 and 9th January 1916 the Dardanelles (Gallipoli) Campaign took place. The Royal Navy's attempts to pass through the Dardanelles in order to disrupt Ottoman shipping were thwarted. The Allies decided to launch a land assault instead, but this also failed leading to the Ottoman victory. The 5th Battalion The Wiltshire Regiment took part in this campaign.