War medals on way from Penrith to Welsh museum …

Date: Friday 14th September 2018

A PENRITH man is to present to a Welsh regimental museum a set of First World War medals awarded to his grandfather.

George Dudson with his grandfather’s medals.
George Dudson with his grandfather’s medals.

The collection includes the Military Medal, which was awarded to Private Sydney Alfred Wells, of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, on 18th September, 1918.

His grandson, 70-year-old George Dudson, said the handover would take place 100 years to the day that it was first presented.

He said the Military Medal was awarded for bravery in the field at the Battle of Epehy. The collection also includes three campaign medals — the 14/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.

Mr Dudson’s maternal grandfather, who died in 1976, was from Barry, near Cardiff, and he joined up in 1915 when he was aged 19 or 20.

He was wounded a number of times including in the Battle of the Sambre, where he received a gunshot wound to the “lower extremities”, just days before the armistice was signed on 11th November, 1918.

Mr Dudson, of Alder Road, said he thought his grandfather, who later moved to live in the Carlisle area, was very brave to return to the front lines after being wounded. The idea to make the presentation was prompted by recent anniversaries from the conflict.

He said: “I thought it would be a nice gesture to give it to the museum actually on the anniversary of the day. They should be placed with other artefacts in the museum to let other generations see them.” The citation states that Pte Wells displayed great gallantry during the Battle of Epehy and, at one stage, the remnants of his company were surrounded by the enemy.

It adds: “He volunteered to go back and report the situation to headquarters and, in spite of heavy machine gun fire deliberately turned on him, succeeded in getting through unscathed though the chances against it were very great. His contempt of danger and great courage were most conspicuous.”

In the battle, near the French village, the British 4th Army, under the command of Sir Henry Rawlinson, attacked the German forward outposts in front of the Hindenburg Line — Germany’s last defence line on the Western Front.

Although the Germans held on both flanks, they were defeated in the centre by the Allied advance. By the end of the day they had advanced three miles and the modest result encouraged Field Marshal Douglas Haig and his fellow commanders to launch further successful attacks.

l A portrait of a First World War soldier from Appleby was sold at auction by PFK for £65.

The lot included the service medals of Private Edward Benson and some letters which were sent to his family, who lived at Pembroke Street.

Pte Benson, who worked at Wetheriggs Pottery, served in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and, according to an article in the Herald at the time, was wounded during the first day of the Battle of Cambrai, on 8th October, 1918, and sent to a hospital at Edinburgh to recover from the injury to his left knee.

The Second Battle of Cambria, as it was known, took place in France during the Hundred Days Offensive of World War I. It was over within three days and hailed as an overwhelming success for the Allies, with minimal injuries.