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John Stanhope Collings-Wells VC DSO (19 July 1880 - 27 March 1918) was an officer in the British Army, recipient of the Distinguished Service Order and the Victoria Cross, the highest award of the British Commonwealth for gallantry "in the face of the enemy".

Contents

Biography

Born in Manchester on 19 July 1880 to Arthur & Caroline Mary, Collings-Wells moved to Marple to live with his Cousin, Will Buck, enabling him to run his father's business in Manchester.[1]

Collings-Wells enlisted in the Hertfordshire Militia, and was commissioned into the Bedfordshire Regiment on 14 March 1904. He was made Lieutenant in September 1904 and Captain in January 1907. When war broke out, he travelled to France with his Regiment on 22nd of August 1914. In the winter of 1914-15, he was wounded and invalided home. He returned to the front lines in July 1916, with the rank of Major, in command of a company. He was promoted to acting Lieutenant-Colonel in October 1916.

Collings-Wells was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1917 for his command of a battalion, which captured and held the northern outskirts of Gavrelle on the 23 April 1917. Further, on 29 April he commanded a composite battalion, attacked and captured the Oppy line. He was also Mentioned in despatches in November 1917.[2]

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VC Citation

In the period 22/27 March during the fighting from Marcoing to Albert, France, he committed acts which won him the Victoria Cross. He died in action on 27 March 1918.

For most conspicuous bravery, skilful leading and handling of his battalion in very critical situations during a withdrawal.

When the rear guard was almost surrounded and in great danger of being captured, Lieutenant-Colonel Collings-Wells, realising the situation, called for volunteers to remain behind and hold up the enemy whilst the remainder of the rearguard withdrew and, with his small body of volunteers held them up for over one and a half hours until they had expended every round of ammunition. During this time he moved freely amongst his men, guiding them and encouraging them and, by his great courage, undoubtedly saved the situation.

On a subsequent occasion, when his battalion was ordered to carry out a counter -attack, he showed the greatest bravery. Knowing that his men were extremely tired after six days fighting, he placed himself in front and led the attack and, even when twice wounded, refused to leave them, but continued to lead and encourage his men until he was killed at the moment of gaining their objective. The successful results of the operation were, without doubt, due to the undaunted courage exhibited by this officer.

London Gazette, 24 April 1918[2]

He was buried at Bouzincourt Ridge Cemetery (Plot 3, Row E, Grave 12).[1] His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regimental Museum, Luton, Bedfordshire, England.

References

  1. ^ a b John Stanhope Collings-Wells, p1, article at Marple.co.uk
  2. ^ a b John Stanhope Collings-Wells, p2, article at Marple.co.uk

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