Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC is sponsoring a monthly 16-page supplement on WW1, called Inside the First World War, which is free with the Sunday Telegraph and is released on the first Sunday of each month.
Part 8 of 12 is the most recent in the series and the theme this month was New Technologies. The article Lord Ashcroft wrote for inclusion in this instalment was the story of “Mick” Mannock, the highest scoring and most highly decorated British fighter pilot of the First World War, who was eventually credited with 73 combat victories, or “kills”.
Mannock, whose first name was Edward but who was known as “Mick” because of his Irish roots, was born in Brighton, Sussex, on May 24 1887.
Mannock was 27 and had moved to Turkey in his job with the National Telephone Company when the Great War broke out. When Turkey entered the war on Germany’s side, he and some other British workers were imprisoned and received regular beatings from the Turkish guards for their impertinence. When he tried to escape, he was put in solitary confinement and his health deteriorated but eventually the American Consulate secured his release. Back in Britain, Mannock was initially listed as “unfit for military duties” but during his imprisonment he had become obsessed with “destroying Germans” and he sought a way to channel this obsession.
In July 1915, he re-joined the Territorial unit of the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) in which he had first served before going to Turkey. A chance meeting with an old friend in early 1916 led to a discussion about flying and, in August 1916, the newly commissioned 2nd Lieutenant Mannock transferred to the Number One School of Military Aeronautics at Reading, going on to qualify as a pilot and leading to a remarkable, if short career. His astonishing medal group of one VC, three DSOs and two MCs, all awarded for bravery over a period of 15 months, makes Mannock probably the most highly decorated man in Lord Ashcroft’s medal collection.
Read the article on “Mick” Mannock here.
See all instalments of the Sunday Telegraph supplement, Inside the First World War here.
Lord Ashcroft’s VC collection is on display at the Imperial War Museum and is currently 183-strong. As well as his VC collection, Lord Ashcroft has a major Special Forces’ medals’ collection and a substantial collection of decorations awarded for gallantry in the air. In 2010, he also started collecting George Crosses (GCs) for the first time and currently owns 11 awards.
Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC is a Tory peer, businessman, philanthropist and author. He is a military historian who had written four books on bravery over the past eight years. He has also lectured extensively on courage and his various medal collections.
All the articles Lord Ashcroft is writing for the supplements are based on expanded excerpts from his four books on gallantry: Victoria Cross Heroes, Special Forces Heroes, George Cross Heroes and Heroes of the Skies. Furthermore, the vast majority of the write-ups are based on gallantry medals owned by him.
Follow him on Twitter: @LordAshcroft