Awards of the Victoria Cross
Three members of the HAC were awarded the Victoria Cross in the First World War, two men won the award whilst serving with the 1st Battalion in April 1917 and a third won the VC whilst serving with the Grenadier Guards.
Lieutenant (later Lieutenant-Colonel) Reginald Leonard (Bill) Haine VC MC
Haine was a member of the 1st Battalion’s No. 3 [or C] Company and went with it to France on 18 September 1914. He won the VC for his actions at Gavrelle on the 28-29 April 1917, when, as stated in his citation, ‘our troops, occupying a pronounced salient, were repeatedly counter-attacked. There was an ever-present danger that if the enemy attack succeeded, the garrison of the salient would be surrounded.’ His ‘superb courage, quick decision and sound judgement were beyond praise, and it was his splendid personal example which inspired his men to continue their efforts during more than thirty hours of continuous fighting’. Haine later served in the Indian Army’s 35th Sikhs and was awarded the Military Cross for his actions on the North West Frontier of India on 17 May 1919.
Lieutenant (later Captain) Alfred Oliver Pollard VC MC and Bar DCM
Pollard was a member of the 1st Battalion’s No. 3 Company in 1914 and won the VC for his actions at Gavrelle on 29 April 1917. His citation states that ‘With only four men he started a counter-attack with bombs, and pressed it home till he had broken the enemy attack, regained all that had been lost and much ground in addition…By his force of will, dash and splendid example, coupled with an utter contempt of danger, this Officer, who has already won the DCM and MC, infused courage into every man who saw him.’ Pollard served in the Royal Air Force during the 1920s and was a writer of crime and mystery fiction; his many works also include an autobiography about his First World War experiences.
Lieutenant (Acting Captain) Thomas Tanatt Pryce VC MC and Bar
Pryce, who had also joined the HAC’s 1st Battalion in 1914, was commissioned into the Gloucestershire Regiment in 1915 and won his posthumous VC as Lieutenant in the 4th Battalion, the Grenadier Guards. This was awarded as a result of his actions on 13 April 1918 when, with only forty men, he held back an enemy battalion for ten hours. He was aged thirty-two when he died, ‘last seen engaged in a fierce hand-to-hand struggle with overwhelming numbers of the enemy’. He has no known grave but is remembered on the Ploegsteert Memorial in Hainaut, Belgium.
Other notable WWI members
Other notable members of the 1st Battalion who can found in these records include the actors Nigel Bruce (playing Dr Watson to Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes in a series of Hollywood films) and John Laurie (well-known for his dour Private James Frazer in the ‘Dad’s Army’ sitcom). The official war artist Adrian Hill and the philosopher and poet T.E. Hulme were also members of the 1st Battalion. Hulme joined the HAC in August 1914 as a Private, was drafted to France at the end of that year and was badly wounded in the arm in 1915; he was commissioned into the Royal Marine Artillery and was killed in action whilst serving with its Heavy Siege Train in Flanders in 1917.
The Honourable George Herbert Chubb (of the locksmith family), admitted to the HAC in 1900, served in the Royal Artillery’s Reserve of Officers, whilst Harry Neville Moss (who later ran the family firm of gentlemen outfitters) joined the HAC in 1916 and was a Private in its Reserve Battalion, later transferring to the Artists’ Rifles and being commissioned into the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. Some men have more well-known descendants like Reginald Lawrence Fowles, also admitted in 1900, had resigned in 1902 but rejoined the HAC in 1917 and was drafted to France only to be killed in action at Bullecourt on 18 July that year. He was the brother of Robert John Fowles MC (admitted in 1914) and uncle to Robert’s son, the novelist John Robert Fowles (author of The Magus
How to research a member of the HAC who died in the First World War