Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC has had his latest “hero of the month” article published in Britain at War, the country’s best-selling military history monthly magazine.
The February issue of the magazine has a two-page write-up on the life and bravery of Corporal Alfred Drake, who was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for courage during the Great War.
Drake, who was born in Stepney, east London, enlisted into the Rifle Brigade in September 1914, aged 20. He arrived in France in May 1915. On the night of 23 November 1915, he was serving with the 8th Battalion, the Rifle Brigade, at Brique, Belgium, when he and three others were sent into No Man’s Land to reconnoitre German lines.
The patrol was discovered and the enemy opened fire with machine-gun and rifles, wounding the officer and one other man. When the other uninjured man helped his wounded comrade back towards Allied lines, Drake was left with the officer. As Drake, aged 21, protected his officer, he was riddled with bullets. His VC was announced on January 22, 1916.
During the Great War, he was chosen to take part in bombing raids on newly-chosen Bulgarian targets. He received his VC for a daring rescue in enemy-held territory of a fellow airman whose aircraft had been shot down on November 19 1915.
Davies, then a 29-year-old squadron commander, briefly landed close to Flight Sub-Lieutenant Smylie’s burning aircraft and lifted him to safety just as enemy troops came within rifle range. His VC was announced on January 1 1916.
Lord Ashcroft’s articles for Britain at War over the past four years have been largely based on excerpts from four of his books on gallantry: Victoria Cross Heroes, Special Forces Heroes, George Cross Heroes and Heroes of the Skies. His fifth bravery book, Special Ops Heroes, was published in November 2014.
For the foreseeable future, Lord Ashcroft’s “hero of the month” articles will concentrate on men who were awarded the VC during the First World War. Lord Ashcroft is a military historian who has lectured extensively on courage and his various medal collections.
- Lord Ashcroft’s latest article appears in the February issue of Britain at War which is on sale now.