Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC has two major articles on bravery published in the latest issue of Britain at War, the country’s best-selling military history monthly magazine.
The November edition of the magazine carries a 4,000-word, eight-page article based on Lord Ashcroft’s unique insight into the extraordinary life and courage of Violette Szabó GC.
As a member of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Szabó twice went undercover in German-occupied France to work with the Resistance. She was shot, wounded and captured by the Germans in the summer of 1944.
During her months in captivity, she was brutally tortured and mistreated until finally, along with two other women prisoners, she was shot dead in early 1945 having told her interrogators nothing of value. After the war ended, she was awarded a posthumous George Cross (GC), Britain and the Commonwealth’s most prestigious medal for gallantry not in the face of the enemy.
Lord Ashcroft purchased Szabó s GC medal group at auction in July and this gave him access to a remarkable collection of documents and letters that were sold with the medals. He has used this material to write his article for the Britain at War. Szabó’s medal group is now on display at the Lord Ashcroft Gallery at the Imperial War Museum, London.
In his regular “hero of the month” feature, Lord Ashcroft writes about the gallantry of Piper (later Sergeant-Piper) Daniel Laidlaw, who was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for his exploits during the First World War.
Laidlaw served a piper in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and was awarded his decoration for outstanding bravery at the Battle of Loos in September 1915. Amid, chaotic scenes as the battle went badly for the British troops, Laidlaw inspired his comrades by going into no-man’s land playing his pipes. Despite a heavy bombardment, he continued playing until he was wounded by enemy fire.
However, he survived his injuries along with the rest of the war, and he was also awarded the French Croix de Guerre for his courage. He eventually died at his home in Scotland, in 1950, aged 74.
* Lord Ashcroft’s two articles appear in the November issue of Britain at War which is on sale now.