1. ITV Report

Cumbrian Victoria Cross Medal winners from WWI

Private Smith from Workington was awarded this Victoria Cross medal Photo: ITV Border

Abraham Acton was born in 1893 in Whitehaven. He was a private in the 2nd Battalion and was recommended for a Victoria Cross medal within the first month of being on the front line.He was awarded the Victoria Cross medal after voluntarily leaving his trench to rescue two wounded men. During these rescues he was under fire for an hour.

He was killed in Festubert, France, in action on the 16th May 1915. His body was never found.

Private Acton (left) and Private Smith (right) Credit: ITV Border

Private James Smith also won a Victoria Cross medal for rescuing wounded men with Private Acton.

He was born in Workington in 1881 and died in 1968. At 33 years old he was a private in the 3rd Battalion of the Border Regiment, attached to the 2nd Battalion during the war.

Stuart Eastwood, the Curator of Cumbria's Museum of Military Life, tells us more about these two heroes:

Robert Beatham was born in Glassonbury in 1894. At the age of 20 he migrated to Australia and was a private in the 8th Battalion in the Australian Imperial Force. He died in action on 9th August 1918, on the second day of the Battle of Amiens. He was 24-years-old.

He was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery. During machine gun fire, which were stopping the men advancing, he went forward and bombed four enemy machine guns, killing ten men and capturing ten others. Although wounded, he bombed another machine gun and died doing so.His actions are said to have saved many casualties and help the advance.

Credit: PA
  • Edward Boyle from Carlisle was a Lieutenant-Commander in the Royal Navy. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for taking down enemy boats in a submarine despite navigational difficulties, strong currents and the threat of being discovered by enemies patrolling the area.
  • Private Harry Christian from Pennington was in the 2nd Battalion, aged 23-years-old. He received the Victoria Cross medal for returning to a crater alone to rescue three men, despite heavy bombardment, when fighting in Cuinchy, France.
Credit: PA
  • Major William Forshaw was born in Barrow-in-Furness and was a lieutenant in the 1/9th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment.
  • In Turkey he directed men and threw bombs for 40 hours. He then recaptured a portion of a trench that was taken over. For these actions he was awarded a Victoria Cross medal. He later achieved the rank of major.
  • James Hewitson from Coninston was a Lance-Corporal in the 1/4th Battalion at the age of 25. He was awarded the Victoria Cross medal for clearing enemies from trenches and dug-outs and eliminating a hostile machine-gun team.

Edward Benn 'Ned' Smith was from Maryport and received both a Distinguished Conduct Medal and a Victoria Cross medal in a short time.

Lance-Sergeant Smith was in command of a platoon when he took over a machine-gun post and fired at the enemy despite being under fire, which included having hand grenades thrown at him. He then took charge of another platoon that needed assistance and captured the objective. He was killed as a Lieutenant in France in the second World War.

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