• 100 years ago on this day, A.K. Chesterton won the Military Cross.

    100 years ago, on this day A.K. Chesterton, a second lieutenant serving with the London Regiment, won the Military Cross.

    A.K. had originally joined the army underage in 1915, and had served with the 5th South African Infantry in the hellish campaign in German East Africa. Invalided out in 1917 through malaria and dysentery, his parents told the army he was still only seventeen and secured his discharge. Despite this, he was still keen to serve and he persuaded his parents to send him to England to train as an officer.

    After duly training in Ireland, he arrived in France. His Military Cross was awarded during operations against the German fortifications of the Hindenberg Line.

    The citation reads:

    "For conspicuous gallantry during the attack on Peizieres September 18th, 1918. He led his platoon in a most determined manner and succeeded in reaching his final objective, despite having hostile machine-gun fire against him. During the operations east of Peizieres on September 19th, he organised bombing attack after bombing attack continually from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. against the enemy who were in Poplar trench. He personally led bombing parties and finally succeeded in capturing Poplar trench killing the machine-gun detachments that barred his way. During the whole of the period in question he displayed fine courage and set a splendid example to his men."

    In 1955, A.K. recorded some memories of the affair in Candour:

    "One of my last memories of the Western Front was the attainment of an objective - on the high ground beyond Epehy - which entailed our treading the final twenty yards or so without once touching the ground. The carpet was provided by the dead bodies of men of the German Alpine Corps. They were young who died, and we whose path was across them were also young. Too young not to have re-lived that grim progress, and others of a like mind, in many a nightmare for many and many a year."


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