Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC has had two major articles on bravery published in the latest issue of Britain at War, the country’s best-selling military history monthly magazine.
The May issue of the magazine has a seven-page article on what can be considered the “first” George Cross (GC) award. The feature is on Wing Commander Leonard Harrison, who possibly defused more unexploded devices that any other man during the Second World War.
Harrison took part in the first GC action on February 12 1940 when the S.S. Kildare arrived at Immingham Docks, Lincolnshire, with a 250 kilo German bomb wedged half-through the main deck.
Although Thomas Alderson’s was the first GC to be announced, the first of Harrison’s three GC actions took place fully seven months before the start of Alderson’s exceptional bravery.
The same May issue of Britain at War carries Lord Ashcroft’s “hero of the month” article, which is on Jemadar Lala, who was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for outstanding courage during the Great War.
Lala, who was born in the village of Parol in north-west India, was amongst the first batch of Indians that were sent to France shortly after the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, but his VC action took place on January 21 1916 when he was serving a sepoy in Mesopotamia (now Iraq).
Lala, who served in the Indian Army, was awarded the VC after he twice risked his life to rescue officers, one if the face of heavy enemy fire. The citation for his VC, announced on May 13 1916, stated that he had “set a magnificent example of courage and devotion to his officers”.
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 articles appear in the May issue of Britain at War which is on sale now.