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 April issue of the magazine has a two-page write-up on the life and bravery of Wing Commander Frederick William Palmer, who was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for outstanding bravery during the Great War.
Palmer, who was born in Hammersmith, west London, enlisted as a private into the 22nd Battalion, The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), shortly after the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914.
Shortly after his 24th birthday, Palmer left for France in November 1915 and was present at both Delville Wood and Redan Ridge. However, it was not until February 1917, once again while fighting in France, that he displayed such bravery that he was later awarded the VC.
After his officers had been shot in battle, Sergeant Palmer assumed command of his unit and, having cut his way under-point blank machine gun fire, through the wire entanglements, he rushed the enemy’s trench with six of his men.
He and his men put the enemy’s machine-gun out of action and then held out against no less than eight determined counter-attacks over several hours. At one crucial point during the final counter-attack Palmer, despite having been blown off his feet by an enemy bomb, rallied his men and drove back the enemy so as to hold the position.
Palmer’s VC was announced on April 3 1917 and he had been awarded the Military Medal (MM) for earlier gallantry. He received both decorations from George V at an investiture on June 2 1917.
After the outbreak of the Second World War, Palmer was granted a commission in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR).
Lord Ashcroft’s articles for Britain at War over the past five 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 sixth bravery book, Victoria Cross Heroes Volume II, was published in November last year.
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 April issue of Britain at War which is on sale now.