Willie Angus

Willie Angus
Willie Angus

William Angus VC (28 February 1888 – 14 June 1959), also known as Willie Angus, was a Scottish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Early life

Angus was born at Polkemmet Rows, Cappers, Armadale. After leaving school he was employed as a miner, but was able to find himself a place as a professional footballer at Carluke Rovers, before moving to Celtic, although he never played for the first team. Angus made two Scottish League appearances on loan to Vale of Leven in 1912. Released in 1914, he joined Wishaw Thistle, the club he was captaining when war was declared in August. As a member of local Territorial battalion of the Highland Light Infantry, he was mobilised immediately.

First World War

Early in 1915 his company, from 8th Bn HLI, was transferred to the 8th Royal Scots, the first Territorial battalion to join the Expeditionary Force. 8th Royal Scots had suffered a great many casualties and were in urgent need of replacements. He was serving as a lance-corporal in this battalion when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Victoria Cross

On 12 June 1915 at Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée, France, Lance-Corporal Angus voluntarily left his trench to rescue a wounded officer, fellow Carluke man Lieutenant James Martin, who was lying within a few yards of the enemy’s position and had been injured by a mine. To do this he had to travel through 64 metres in no-man’s land under heavy bomb and rifle fire, and received about 40 wounds, some of them being very serious, including the loss of his left eye. His commanding officer said there had been no braver deed in the history of the British Army.


After the rescue he was taken to a military hospital in Boulogne-sur-Mer, where he learned of his award of the Victoria Cross. After 2 months in hospital he returned to London where he was given the Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 30 August 1915. When the King commented on his 40 injuries, Angus was said to have answered “Aye, sir, but only 13 were serious.”.

After he had returned to Carluke, he was given a hero’s welcome and received standing ovations at Celtic Park and Ibrox. Following the war, he started business as a goods carrier. He married and had five children.

He also became president of Carluke Rovers, a position he held until his death in 1959. Each year of his life, he received a telegram of thanks from the family of the man he rescued.

Willie is buried, together with his wife Mary, at Wilton Cemetery, in Carluke. His Victoria Cross is displayed at the National War Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh Castle, Scotland.

In 2015, on the centenary of his heroic acts, a commemorative stone was laid in Carluke. A memorial stone was also laid at his birthplace in Armadale.

Willie Angus
Willie Angus

Bernard William Vann

Bernard William Vann
Bernard William Vann

Lieutenant Colonel Bernard William Vann, VC, MC & Bar (9 July 1887 – 3 October 1918) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Early life

Vann was born on 9 July 1887 in Rushden, in Northamptonshire, where his parents, Alfred George Collins Vann and Hannah Elizabeth Vann were teachers. He attended Chichele College, Higham Ferrers, where his father was headmaster.

Vann was a keen footballer who played for amateur teams at Hugglescote United, Irthlingborough, and Northampton Town. During the 1906/1907 season, he played for Burton United, then a League club. He made five appearances that season and then joined Derby County, making the first of his three league appearances for the club on 23 March 1907. Later that year, he played for Leicester Fosse, playing in two non-league games for the club.

From 1907 to 1910, Vann was a student at Jesus College, Cambridge, reading History. While at the University of Cambridge, Bernard served in the Officers’ Training Corps as a sergeant. During this time, he played for Mansfield Wesley. In 1910, his final year of studies, he was a hockey blue for the university.

After graduation, Vann taught at Ashby-de-la-Zouch Grammar School in Leicestershire but then decided on a career in the priesthood. He was ordained a deacon in the Church of England in October 1910 and, in December 1911, he was ordained as a priest. He was licensed as a curate at St Barnabas’ Church in the New Humberstone suburb of Leicester and then at St Saviour’s Church in the same city. In January 1913, he became chaplain and assistant master at Wellingborough School.

First World War

On the outbreak of the First World War, Vann volunteered as a military chaplain but, frustrated by difficulties and delays, enlisted in the infantry instead, initially in 28th (County of London) Battalion of The London Regiment, (The Artists’ Rifles). Shortly afterwards, he was commissioned into the 1/8th Battalion, The Sherwood Foresters (The Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) on 1 September 1914.

With his battalion, Vann served in the Ypres Salient for several months from February 1915. In an action at Kemmel on 24 April 1915, a trench he was in was bombed. Although wounded, he organised the defence and rescued buried men under heavy fire. He refused to leave his post until ordered to by his superiors. He was promoted to lieutenant on 26 April 1915 and two months later was made a temporary captain.

Vann further distinguished himself in fighting at Hooge in late July to early August, assisting another officer in holding the line and leading patrols to the German trenches, gathering intelligence. For his actions over this period, he was awarded the Military Cross (MC). On 25 September 1915, his brother Arthur was killed at the Battle of Loos. The following month, Vann was wounded during fighting at the Hohenzollern Redoubt which resulted in him being sent to England for treatment. He returned to the front in June 1916, his captain’s rank having been made substantive. He soon was promoted to acting major.

In August 1916 Vann received a bar to his previously awarded MC “for conspicuous gallantry in action. He led a daring raid against the enemy’s trenches, himself taking five prisoners and displaying great courage and determination. He has on many previous occasions done fine work.” Later in the year, suffering neuritis in his neck, he was sent to England for medical treatment. Declared fit in March 1917, he was sent on a command training course and returned to the front six months later as commander of 2/6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters. During this time, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre. He was promoted to acting lieutenant colonel the following month.

For the first part of 1918, Vann spent periods in hospital or on leave. In June 1918, Vann took over command of 1/6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters. On 29 September 1918, during the Battle of St Quentin Canal, he led his battalion across the canal through thick fog and under heavy fire. He secured his troops’ advance by rushing up to the firing line and leading the advance forward himself. Of his battalion, nearly 30 men were killed and over a hundred others were wounded in this engagement. A few days later, on 3 October 1918, he was again leading his battalion, this time across the Beaurevoir-Bonsomme Line, near Ramicourt, when he was killed in action by a sniper.

For his actions of 29 September 1918, he was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC). The citation for his VC, the only one of the First World War to be awarded to a cleric of the Church of England performing a combat role, read as follows:

For most conspicuous bravery, devotion to duty and fine leadership during the attack at Bellenglise and Lehaucourt, on September 29th, 1918. He led his battalion with great skill across the Canal de Saint-Quentin through a very thick fog and under heavy fire from field and machine guns. On reaching the high ground above Bellenglise the whole attack was held up by fire of all descriptions from the front and right flank. Realising that everything depended on the advance going forward with the barrage, Col. Vann rushed up to the firing line and with the greatest gallantry led the line forward. By his prompt action and absolute contempt for danger the whole situation was changed, the men were encouraged and the line swept forward. Later, he rushed a field-gun single-handed and knocked out three of the detachment. The success of the day was in no small degree due to the splendid gallantry and fine leadership displayed by this officer. Lt. Col. Vann, who had on all occasions set the highest example of valour, was killed near Ramicourt on 3rd October, 1918, when leading his battalion in attack.

— The London Gazette No. 31067, 14 December 1918

Vann was initially buried near where he was killed but in 1920, his remains were moved to Bellicourt British Cemetery in Aisne, France. The inscription on his headstone, “A Great Priest Who Is In His Days Pleased God”, was written by the Bishop of Peterborough.

Donald Simpson Bell

Donald Simpson Bell
Donald Simpson Bell

Second Lieutenant Donald Simpson Bell, VC (3 December 1890 – 10 July 1916) was an English school teacher and professional footballer. During World War I he was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for actions during the Battle of the Somme in mid-1916.


Bell was born on 3 December 1890 to Smith and Annie Bell, who resided in Queen’s Road, Harrogate. He attended St Peter’s Church of England Primary School and Harrogate Grammar School before going to Westminster College, London, to train as a teacher. A noted sportsman at college, he played as an amateur with Crystal Palace and later for Newcastle United. He returned to Harrogate and became a schoolteacher at Starbeck Council School (now Starbeck Primary School) and a member of the National Union of Teachers. To supplement his salary, in 1912 he signed professional forms with Bradford (Park Avenue). He played 6 games for the club as a defender or midfielder between 1912–14.

World War I

When World War I broke out, he became the first professional footballer to enlist into the British Army – joining the West Yorkshire Regiment in 1915. He was promoted to Lance Corporal and then commissioned into the 9th Battalion, Green Howards (Alexandra, Princess of Wales’ Own Yorkshire Regiment), going to France in November 1915. After being in reserve for the opening of the battle of the Somme, the 9th battalion were ordered into the front line on 5 July.

Bell was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 5 July 1916 at Horseshoe Trench, Somme, France.

For most conspicuous bravery. During an attack a very heavy enfilade fire was opened on the attacking company by a hostile machine gun. 2nd Lt. Bell immediately, and on his own initiative, crept up a communication trench and then, followed by Corpl. Colwill and Pte. Batey, rushed across the open under very heavy fire and attacked the machine gun, shooting the firer with his revolver, and destroying gun and personnel with bombs. This very brave act saved many lives and ensured the success of the attack. Five days later this very gallant officer lost his life performing a very similar act of bravery.

Describing the deed in a letter to his parents, Bell stated that “I must confess that it was the biggest fluke alive and I did nothing. I only chucked one bomb, but it did the trick”. Bell was shot in the head by a sniper on 10 July 1916 while attacking a machine-gun post near the village of Contalmaison. He is buried at Gordon Dump Cemetery, near Albert. His Victoria Cross was formerly displayed at the Green Howards Museum in Richmond, Yorkshire. On 25 November 2010 it was auctioned by London medal specialists, Spink. It was purchased for a reported £210,000 by the Professional Footballers’ Association and is on display at the National Football Museum in Manchester.


On 9 July 2000, through the initiative of “The Friends of the Green Howards Museum”, General The Lord Dannatt, then Colonel of the regiment unveiled a memorial dedicated to Bell on the spot where he lost his life at Contalmaison, now known as Bell’s Redoubt. There is also a memorial plaque to him in Wesley Methodist Church, Harrogate, where he was a Sunday School Teacher.

Edmund Baron Hartley

Edmund Baron Hartley
Edmund Baron Hartley

Colonel Edmund Baron Hartley VC CMG (6 May 1847 – 20 March 1919) was a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Early life

Hartley was born in Ivybridge, Devon, England, on 6 May 1847. Hartley arrived in Basutoland from Cape Town in 1875, becoming the first district surgeon in the colony. He was based in Maseru, but frequently traveled across the colony to treat patients. Following the outbreak of the 1879 Morosi’s Revolt he served as the principal medical officer of the Cape Colonial Forces. During the course of the campaign he organised his principal hospital at Fort Hartley on the Orange River. He distinguished himself during the campaign earning the Victoria Cross (VC) for his actions. Which bore the following citation:

On 5 June 1879 in South Africa, Surgeon Major Hartley attended the wounded under fire at the unsuccessful attack at Morosi’s Mountain. From an exposed position, on open ground, he carried in his arms a wounded corporal of the Cape Mounted Riflemen. The surgeon major then returned under severe enemy fire in order to dress the wounds of the other men of the storming party.

Hartley continued his service as the principal medical officer of the Cape troops during the subsequent Basuto Gun War.

Later service

He later achieved the rank of surgeon colonel and, in March 1900 during the Second Boer War fighting at Aliwal, he is mentioned doing ambulance work, ferrying away the wounded under fire.

In November 1900 he was reported wounded following the occupation of Philippolis by Lovat Scouts and Seaforth Highlanders. On 19 April 1901 he was appointed a companion of the Order of St Michael and St George. He died in Ash, Hampshire and is buried at Brookwood Cemetery.

John Frederick McCrea

John Frederick McCrea
John Frederick McCrea

John Frederick McCrea VC (2 April 1854 – 16 July 1894) was an English-born South African soldier and recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Early life

McCrea was born on 2 April 1854 at Saint Peter Port, Guernsey to Captain Herbert Taylor McCrea and Elizabeth Dobree Carey. Following his parents’ deaths in 1855, he was brought up by his aunt Charlotte in Guernsey and educated at Elizabeth College. He then studied medicine at Guy’s Hospital, qualifying in 1878 as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and Edinburgh.

In 1879 he went to South Africa, where he did duty at the Military Hospital in Cape Town as Civilian Surgeon to Her Majesty’s Forces. A year later he moved to Fort Beaufort, Eastern Cape to settle, but decided instead to join the 1st Regiment, Cape Mounted Yeomanry as a surgeon.


McCrea was 26 years old, and a Surgeon in the 1st Cape Mounted Yeomanry, Cape Colonial Forces during the Basuto Gun War, when he performed the following actions for which he was awarded the VC.

On 14 January 1881, at Tweefontein, Basutoland, South Africa, the burghers had been forced to retire under a most determined enemy attack, with a loss of 16 killed and 21 wounded. Surgeon McCrea was the only doctor present and notwithstanding a serious wound on the breast bone, which he dressed himself, he most gallantly took the casualties into shelter and continued to attend to the wounded throughout the day. Had it not been for this devotion to duty on the part of Surgeon McCrea, there would undoubtedly have been much greater suffering and loss of life.

Further career

McCrea was promoted to the rank of Surgeon Major and on 3 February 1882 was transferred to the Cape Mounted Riflemen.

Harry Frederick Whitchurch

Harry Frederick Whitchurch
Harry Frederick Whitchurch

Harry Frederick Whitchurch VC (22 September 1866 – 16 August 1907) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Whitchurch was 28 years old, and a surgeon captain in the Indian Medical Service, Indian Army during the Chitral Expedition of 1895 of 1895 when, on 3 March, the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

During the sortie from Chitral Fort of the 3rd March last, at the commencement of the siege, Surgeon-Captain Whitchurch went to the assistance of Captain Baird, 24th Bengal Infantry, who was mortally wounded, and brought him back to the fort under a heavy fire from the enemy. Captain Baird was on the right of the fighting line, and had only a small party of Gurkhas and men of the 4th Kashmir Rifles. He was wounded on the heights ‘at a distance of a mile and a half from the fort. When Surgeon-Captain Whitchurch proceeded to his rescue, the enemy, in great strength, had broken through the fighting line’; darkness had set in and Captain Baird, Surgeon-Captain Whitchurch, and the sepoys were completely isolated from assistance. Captain Baird was placed in a dooly by Surgeon-Captain Whitchurch, and the party then attempted to return to the fort. The Gurkhas bravely clung to the dooly until three were killed and a fourth was severely wounded. Surgeon-Captain Whitchurch then put Captain Baird upon his back and carried him some distance with heroic courage and resolution. The little party kept diminishing in numbers, being fired at the whole way. On one or two occasions Surgeon-Captain Whitchurch was obliged to charge walls, from behind which the enemy kept up an incessant fire. At one place particularly the whole party was in imminent danger of being cut up, having been surrounded, by the enemy. Surgeon-Captain Whitchurch gallantly rushed the position, and eventually succeeded in getting Captain Baird and the sepoys into the fort. Nearly all the party were wounded, Captain Baird receiving two additional wounds before reaching the fort.

Neville Reginald Howse

Neville Reginald Howse
Neville Reginald Howse

Major General Sir Neville Reginald Howse, VC, KCB, KCMG, FRCS (26 October 1863 – 19 September 1930) was an Australian Army officer, medical doctor, and politician. He was the first Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest decoration for gallantry “in the face of the enemy” that can be awarded to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces.

Howse was born in Somerset, England, and followed his father into the medical profession. He emigrated to Australia in 1889 and eventually settled in Orange, New South Wales. During the Boer War, Howse served with the Australian medical corps. He was awarded the VC for his rescue of a wounded man at Vredefort in July 1900, while under heavy rifle fire. During the First World War, Howse served in New Guinea, Gallipoli, and on the Western Front. He oversaw the medical services of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and finished the war with the rank of major-general. He was elected to parliament in 1922, and was subsequently appointed to cabinet by Stanley Bruce. He served as Minister for Defence (1925–1927), Health (1925–1927; 1928–1929), and Home and Territories (1928).

Early life

Howse was born in Stogursey, Somerset, England, the son of Lucy Elizabeth (née Conroy) and Alfred Howse. He was educated at Fullard’s House School in Taunton. He chose to follow his father (a surgeon) into the medical profession, studying medicine at London Hospital. He attained the qualifications MRCS and LRCP in 1886, and subsequently became a demonstrator in anatomy at the University of Durham.

In 1889, Howse immigrated to Australia for health reasons. He initially settled in Newcastle, New South Wales, but later moved to Taree. He returned to England in 1895 for further studies, obtaining the rank of FRCS in 1897. He moved back to Australia in 1899 and bought a medical practice in Orange, which would remain his primary residence for the next 30 years except during his overseas military service.

Military service

Boer War

Howse served in the Second Boer War with the Second Contingent of the New South Wales Army Medical Corps, Australian Forces, arriving at East London, Eastern Cape, in February 1900 as a lieutenant.

On 24 July 1900, during the action at Vredefort, South Africa, Howse saw a trumpeter fall, and went through very heavy cross-fire to rescue the man. His horse was soon shot from under him, but he continued on foot, reached the casualty, dressed his wound, and then carried him to safety. For this action, Howse was awarded the Victoria Cross. The award was gazetted on 4 June 1901 and the original citation reads:

The King has been graciously pleased to signify His intention to confer the decoration of the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned Officers, Non-Commissioned Officer, and Soldier, for their conspicuous bravery in South Africa, as stated against their names :—

New South Wales Medical Staff Corps, Captain N. R. House

During the action at Vredefort on 24 July 1900, Captain House went out under a heavy cross fire and picked up a wounded man, and carried him to a place of shelter.

He thus became the first recipient of the Victoria Cross serving in the Australian armed forces; his medal is on display at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Howse was subsequently promoted to captain on 15 October 1900.

The Second Contingent left South Africa via Cape Town on 13 December 1900 on the S.S. Orient, however Howse had been invalided to Britain on 28 November 1900. Howse subsequently returned to Australia at the end of February 1901. Following the gazetting of his VC, Howse was presented with the medal in a ceremony at Victoria Barracks, Sydney on 4 December 1901. Also at the ceremony were Captain A. Heathcote and Sergeant J. Paton, prior recipients of the VC for actions during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, who had subsequently migrated to New South Wales.

Howse returned to South Africa as a major with the Australian Army Medical Corps (AAMC) in command of the Bearer Company, arriving at Durban in Natal on 17 March 1902. Following service in Natal, Orange River Colony and Western Transvaal (attached to Colonel A.W. Thornycroft’s Mounted Infantry Column), at the conclusion of the war he became seriously ill. He was again invalided to Britain on 6 July 1902, with the remainder of the AAMC contingent departing for Australia on 8 July 1902. Howse eventually returned to Australia in November 1902.

First World War

When the First World War began, Howse was appointed principal medical officer to the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force to German New Guinea, with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Following his time in New Guinea, he was appointed Assistant Director of Medical Services 1st Australian Division. During the Gallipoli campaign he took charge of evacuating wounded men from the beach in the campaign’s opening days. In 1917 at the Dardanelles commission, he described the arrangements for dealing with wounded men at Gallipoli as inadequate to the point of ‘criminal negligence’. He was Mentioned in Despatches for his service in this campaign.

In September 1915 he was given command of ANZAC medical services and in November became director of the AIF’s medical services, with the rank of surgeon-general. When the Australian Imperial Force moved to France, Howse took up a position in London, overseeing medical services in France, Egypt and Palestine. At the beginning of 1917 he was promoted to major general.

Howse was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the 1915 King’s Birthday Honours, was promoted to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) on 22 January 1917, and appointed Knight of Grace of the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem and Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in 1919. From 1921 to 1925 he was Director-General of Medical Services.


In 1922, Howse resigned his army commission to enter politics, as regulations at the time forbade political campaigning by members of the regular army. He was elected to the House of Representatives, standing for the Nationalist Party in the Division of Calare. He subsequently represented Australia at the League of Nations Assembly in 1923. In January 1925, Howse was elevated to cabinet by Prime Minister Stanley Bruce as Minister for Defence and Minister for Health. In the defence portfolio his primary responsibility was for repatriation. He was a member of the Australian delegation to the 1926 Imperial Conference in London, but was taken ill and had to resign his portfolios in April 1927. He was kept on in the ministry as an honorary minister without portfolio.

In February 1928, Howse was reappointed Minister for Health and also made Minister for Home and Territories. He relinquished the latter portfolio in November 1928 after that year’s election. Howse made a significant impact during his two periods as health minister. He helped establish the Federal Health Council of Australia, supported the formation of the Australian College of Surgeons and the first conference of Australian cancer organisations, and was instrumental in the decision to site the Australian Institute of Anatomy in Canberra. In 1928, he convinced cabinet to spend the considerable sum of £100,000 to establish one of the world’s first radium banks, allowing Australia to become a centre of radiological research. He was also credited with inspiring public confidence in Commonwealth Serum Laboratories and the government’s immunisation programs, at a time when a series of fatalities had led to a distrust of immunisation among the general population.

Howse lost his seat in parliament in the Labor landslide at the 1929 election.

Death and legacy

In February 1930, Howse travelled to England for medical treatment for cancer, but died on 19 September 1930, and is buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, London. His son, John Howse, was member for Calare from 1946 to 1960.

Francis Alexander Caron Scrimger

Francis Alexander Caron Scrimger
Francis Alexander Caron Scrimger

Francis Alexander Caron Scrimger, VC (February 10, 1880 – February 13, 1937), was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Early life

Scrimger was born in Montreal, the son of the Reverend John Scrimger, Principal of The Presbyterian College, Montreal. He was educated at the High School of Montreal and McGill University, obtaining a BA in 1901 and an MD in 1905. He was commissioned into the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps in 1912.

Victoria Cross

During the Second Battle of Ypres on 25 April 1915 at Saint-Julien, Wieltje Salient, Belgium, Captain Scrimger, then serving as the medical officer of the 14th Battalion, Royal Montreal Regiment, was in charge of an advanced dressing station in a farmhouse near Wieltje on the St. Julien-Ypres Road. The advancing enemy were bombarding the area with an intense shelling. The German infantry were within sight. Scrimger directed the removal of the wounded under the heavy fire. Captain Scrimger and a badly wounded Captain Macdonald were the last men left at the station. Scrimger carried the wounded officer out of the farmhouse to the road. The bombardment of shell forced Scrimger to stop and place Macdonald on the road. Scrimger then protected him with his own body. During a lull in the gunfire Scrimger again carried Macdonald toward help. When he was unable to carry him any further, he remained with the wounded man until help could be obtained.

Later life

After the war, Scrimger was appointed to the chair of Surgery at McGill and Chief Surgeon of the Royal Victoria Hospital. He died in Montreal in 1937. His only son, Captain Alexander Canon Scrimger, of the 29th Canadian Reconnaissance Regiment (South Alberta Regiment), Canadian Armoured Corps, was killed in action in Holland in 1944.


In 1918, Mount Scrimger, a 9039-foot peak in the Canadian Rockies on the border between Alberta and British Columbia, was named after him. His medals are held at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa after being donated by his descendants in 2005.

John Alexander Sinton

John Alexander Sinton
John Alexander Sinton

Brigadier John Alexander Sinton, VC, OBE, FRS, DL (2 December 1884 – 25 March 1956) was a British medical doctor, malariologist, soldier, and a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Early life

Sinton was born in Victoria, British Columbia, the third of the seven children of Walter Lyon Sinton (1860–1930) and his wife, Isabella Mary, née Pringle (1860–1924), a family of Quaker linen manufacturers from north of Ireland. On his mother’s side he was a cousin of James Pringle, and a nephew of Thomas Sinton and cousin of Ernest Walton on his father’s. In 1890 they returned to Ulster where he was educated and lived for the rest of his life. He studied at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and read medicine at the Queen’s University, Belfast, where he graduated in 1908 as first in his year. He went on to attain degrees from the University of Cambridge (1910) and the University of Liverpool (1911).

Sinton joined the Indian Medical Service in 1911, coming first in the entrance examinations, but before being posted to India was seconded as the Queen’s University research scholar to the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine where his contact with Sir Ronald Ross may have influenced his later career as a malariologist.

Military career

Sinton was 31 years old and a captain in the Indian Medical Service (IMS), Indian Army, during the First World War. On 21 January 1916 at the Orah Ruins, Mesopotamia, Captain Sinton attended to the wounded under very heavy fire and the citation to his VC reads:

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. Although shot through both arms and through the side, he refused to go to hospital, and remained as long as daylight lasted, attending to his duties under very heavy fire. In three previous actions Captain Sinton displayed the utmost bravery.

Sinton later achieved the rank of brigadier (1943), was awarded the Russian Order of St George and mentioned in dispatches six times.

In 1921 he transferred from the military to the civil branch of the IMS which he continued to serve with until 1936.

Medical career

In July 1921 he was put in charge of the quinine and malaria inquiry under the newly formed Central Malaria Bureau. He was appointed the first director of the malaria survey of India at Kasauli in 1925 where he worked with Sir S. R. Christophers.

He became Manson fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and at the malaria laboratory of the Ministry of Health at Horton Hospital, near Epsom. He also became adviser on malaria to the Ministry of Health. With the outbreak of the Second World War, Sinton was recalled as an IMS reservist and commanded a hospital in India. At the age of fifty-five he was again retired, but was appointed consultant malariologist to the east African force and later to Middle East command, retiring with the honorary rank of brigadier in August 1943.

He then worked as consultant malariologist to the War Office, travelling widely to Assam, Australia, Burma, Ceylon, India, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands, where his expertise in malaria was invaluable. Further military decorations resulted from this period, after which Sinton returned to Northern Ireland and retired to Cookstown. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1946.

Other activities

Sinton is the only Fellow of the Royal Society to have received a Victoria Cross. In his retirement he served as Deputy Lieutenant for County Tyrone and, in 1953, as High Sheriff of Tyrone.

His name is remembered in Sinton Halls, a student housing block at the Queen’s University, Belfast, where he sat on the senate and was a Pro-Chancellor. The Sinton Medical and Dental Centre at Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn is also named in his honour. Others honoured Sinton by naming three mosquito species, Aedes sintoni, Anopheles sintoni, and Anopheles sintonoides, one sandfly species, Sergentomyia sintoni, and one subgenus Sintonius of the genus Phlebotomus, after him.

He died at his home at Slaghtfreedan Lodge, Cookstown, County Tyrone, on 25 March 1956 and was buried with full military honours on 28 March at Claggan Presbyterian cemetery in Cookstown. Colonel H. W. Mulligan in an obituary in the British Medical Journal described him thus:

Sinton had an exceptionally quick, receptive, and retentive brain, but his greatness sprang not so much from his unusual intellectual gifts as from the simple qualities of absolute integrity and tremendous industry

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Army Medical Services Museum at Aldershot.

Bellenden Seymour Hutcheson

Bellenden Seymour Hutcheson
Bellenden Seymour Hutcheson

Bellenden Seymour Hutcheson VC, MC (16 December 1883 – 9 April 1954) was an American-born Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross (VC) during the First World War. The VC is the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Hutcheson was one of the seven Canadians to be awarded the Victoria Cross for their deeds on one single day, 2 September 1918, for actions across the 30 km long Drocourt-Quéant Line near Arras, France. The other six were Arthur George Knight, William Henry Metcalf, Claude Joseph Patrick Nunney, Cyrus Wesley Peck, Walter Leigh Rayfield and John Francis Young.


Hutcheson was a graduate of Northwestern University Medical School. In 1915, he renounced his United States citizenship in order to join the Canadian Army as a medical officer. He reclaimed his American citizenship after the war.

He was 34 years old, and a captain in the Canadian Army Medical Corps, Canadian Expeditionary Force, attached to 75th (Mississauga) Battalion, during the First World War. He was awarded the MC in 1918 for attended to and dressing the wounded.

On 2 September 1918 in France, Captain Hutcheson went through the Drocourt-Quéant Support Line with his battalion, remaining on the field until every wounded man had been attended to. He dressed the wounds of a seriously hurt officer under terrific machine-gun and shell fire, and with the help of prisoners and his own men, succeeded in evacuating the officer to safety. Immediately afterwards, he rushed forward in full view of the enemy to attend a wounded sergeant, and having placed him in a shell-hole, dressed his wounds.

The citation reads:

His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to:–

Capt. Bellenden Seymour Hutcheson, Can. A. Med. Corps, attd. 75th Bn., 1st Central Ontario R.

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on September 2nd, when under most intense shell, machine-gun and rifle fire, he went through the Queant-Drocourt Support Line with the battalion. Without hesitation and with utter disregard of personal safety he remained on the field until every wounded man had been attended to. He dressed the wounds of a seriously wounded officer under terrific machine-gun and shell fire, and, with the assistance of prisoners and of his own men, succeeded in evacuating him to safety, despite the fact that the bearer party suffered heavy casualties.

Immediately afterwards he rushed forward, in full view of the enemy, under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire, to tend a wounded sergeant, and, having placed him in a shell-hole, dressed his wounds. Captain Hutcheson performed many similar gallant acts, and, by his coolness and devotion to duty, many lives were saved.

— London Gazette, 14 December 1918.