British Military & Criminal History:
1900 to 1999.
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A total of 3 people have won the Victoria Cross twice. This is shown by the term "VC and Bar". The recipient does not wear two Victoria Cross medals, but wears a small bar across the VC medal's ribbon.
This section provides some information about the three servicemen who have won the ultimate British award for bravery in the presence of the enemy - not just once but twice.
1: Surgeon Captain Martin-Leake
Arthur Martin-Leake was born in Standen, Hertfordshire, on 4 April 1874. Surgeon Captain (later Lieutenant Colonel) Martin-Leake was a member of the South African Constabulary then Royal Army Medical Corps, attached to the 5th Field Ambulance.
On 8 February 1902, at Vlakfontein, South Africa, Surgeon Captain Martin-Leake went out into the firing line to dress a wounded man under very heavy enemy fire only 100 yards away. He then attended a badly wounded officer and while doing so was shot himself. He only gave up when thoroughly exhausted and then refused water until other wounded men had been served. This award was published in the London Gazette on 13 May 1902.
During the period 29 October to 8 November 1914 near Zonnebeke, Belgium, Lieutenant Martin-Leake showed most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in rescuing, whilst exposed to constant fire, a large number of the wounded who were lying close to the enemy's trenches. The bar to his second VC was published in the London Gazette on 18 February 1915.
During World War Two, Arthur Martin-Leake commanded a mobile ARP unit. Arthur Martin-Leake died in Ware, Hertfordshire, on 22 June 1953. He is buried in St. John's Church High Cross in Hertfordshire.
2: Captain Chavasse
Noel Godfrey Chavasse was born in Oxford on 9 November 1884, one of seven children to the Bishop of Liverpool Francis James and Edith Jane Chavasse. Noel Chavasse was educated at Magdalen College School, Liverpool College and Trinity College Oxford, from where he graduated with distinction. A 'blue' in rugby and lacrosse, Noel and his twin brother Christopher took part in the 400 metre race at the 1908 London Olympics; they failed to make the final of the event. In 1912, Noel Chavasse completed his medical studies and became a Resident Medical Officer at Liverpool's Royal Southern Hospital. He volunteered for the Territorial Force, becoming a Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) officer attached to the Liverpool Scottish (1/10th Battalion, King's Liverpool Regiment.)
On 9 August 1916, at Guillemont, France, during an attack, Captain Chavasse attended to the wounded all day, under heavy fire, frequently in the view of the enemy, and during the night he searched for wounded in front of the enemy's lines. Next day he took a stretcher-bearer and under heavy shell fire carried an urgent case 500 yards into safety, being wounded himself on the return journey. The same night, with 20 volunteers, he rescued 3 wounded men from a shell-hole 36 yards from the enemy's trenches, buried the bodies of 2 officers and collected many identity discs. Altogether he saved the lives of some 20 wounded men, besides the ordinary cases which passed through his hands. This award was published in the London Gazette on 26 October 1916.
During the period 31 July to 2 August 1917, at Wieltje, Belgium, Captain Chavasse, although severely wounded early in the action while carrying a wounded officer to the dressing station, refused to leave his post and not only continued to perform his duties, but in addition went out repeatedly under heavy fire and searched for and attended the wounded. During these searches, although practically without food, worn with fatigue and faint from his wound, he helped to carry in badly wounded men. He was instrumental in saving many wounded who would have undoubtedly died under the bad weather conditions. Captain Chavasse subsequently died of his wounds on 4 August 1917, near the town of Ypres. The bar to his second VC was published in the London Gazette on 14 September 1917.
Brandhoek Church with Noel Chavasse Memorial in foreground (Stephen Stratford 2011).
Noel Chavasse Memorial in grounds of Brandhoek Church (Stephen Stratford 2011).
Captain Chavasse is buried in Brandhoek New Military Cemetery, grave reference III.B.15.
Captain Chavasse's grave in Brandhoek New Military Cemetery (stephen Stratford 2011).
Captain Chavasse's Victoria Cross and Bar, together with his other medals, are on display in the Lord Ashcroft Gallery at the Imperial War Museum.
For information about Noel Chavasse's brothers and sisters, please see my article about the "Chavasse Family".
Nearby the grave of Captain Noel Chavasse, is the grave of his batman Private C.A. Rudd, who was killed on 10 August 1917; just six days after his officer.
Private C. A. Rudd, 10th The King's Liverpool Regiment (Stephen Stratford 2011).
Charles Arundel Rudd was baptised on 14 May 1899 at Holy Trinity Church, Birchfield, Staffordshire. Parents were Christopher Rudd (diamond mounter) and Julia Ann Byfield Rudd.
The 1901 Census has the Rudd family living at 102 Birchfield Road, Handsworth. In addition to his parents (Father now working in his confectionary shop) and Julia Ann Byfield Rudd (age 42), there was daughter Elsie (age 6), son Howard William (age 1) and Father-in-law William Day (age 58 - brass worker).
The 1911 Census records the Rudd family now living at 170 Duke Street, St. Helens, Lancashire. Father’s occupation recorded as "confectionery salesman". Elsie (age 16) working as a "clerk - Merchants", Charles Arundel (age 14) working as a "clerk - corn factory" and Howard William (age 11) still at school.
Enlisted at St. Helens into the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment. Batman to Captain Noel Chavasse, VC*, MC. Charles Arundel Rudd died of his wounds on 10 August 1917, and is buried in the same cemetery as his Captain. Entitled to British War Medal and Victory Medal
3: Second Lieutenant Upham
Charles Hazlitt Upham was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 21 September 1908. He was a 2nd Lieutenant (later Captain) in the 20th Battalion, 2nd N.Z.E.F (The Canterbury Regiment).
Between 22 and 30 May 1941 in Crete, Greece, 2nd Lieutenant Upham displayed outstanding leadership and courage in the very close quarter fighting. He was blown up by one mortar shell and badly wounded by another. He was also wounded in the foot, but in spite of his wounds and a severe attack of dysentery, he refused to go to hospital. He carried a wounded man back to safety when his company was forced to retire on 22 May 1941 and on 30 May 1941 he beat off an attack at Sphankia, 22 Germans falling to his short range fire. This award was published in the London Gazette on 14 October 1941.
On 14-15 July 1942 at El Ruweisat Ridge, Western Desert, Captain Upham, in spite of being twice wounded, insisted on remaining with his men. Just before dawn he led his company in a determined attack, capturing the objective after fierce fighting; he himself destroyed a German tank and several guns and vehicles with hand grenades. Although his arm had been broken by a machine-gun bullet, he continued to dominate the situation and when at last, weak from loss of blood, he had his wounds dressed, he immediately returned to his men, remaining with them until he was again severely wounded and unable to move. After being captured, Lieutenant Upham spent the rest of the war as a POW in Colditz Castle. The bar to his second VC was published in the London Gazette on 26 September 1945.
Charles Upham died in New Zealand in November 1994, aged 86.
Charles Upham's grave (Howard Clarke 2005).
Panel on Charles Upham's Grave (Howard Clarke 2005).
Charles Upham's Grave (Howard Clarke 2005).