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 November issue of the magazine has a three-page write-up on the life and bravery of Air Commodore Ferdinand Maurice Felix West VC, CBE, MC, who was born in Bayswater, central London, in January 1896.
Until the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914, West worked as a clerk in a bank in Zurich, Switzerland. Shortly after the start of the war, he travelled to England and enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC).
After serving on the frontline as a second lieutenant in The Royal Munster Fusiliers, where he later recalled “we lived like rats”, and after later being promoted to acting captain, West became determined to fly. In March 1917, he was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and, later, the newly-formed RAF. In July1918, he was awarded the Military Cross (MC) for bravery in the air that May.
His VC action took place while serving as a captain in northern France on August 10 1918, when his plane was attacked by seven enemy aircraft. He kept control of his aircraft despite enemy fire severing part of one leg and wounding his other leg. Somehow he managed to land his plane after which point he fainted.
West, who was 22 at the time, had to have his badly damaged left leg amputated. His VC was announced on November 8 1918, three days before the Armistice. West served in the Second World War and eventually died in July 1988, aged 92.
Lord Ashcroft’s articles for Britain at War over the past five years have been largely based on excerpts from his six books on gallantry: Victoria Cross Heroes,Special Forces Heroes, George Cross Heroes, Heroes of the Skies, Special Ops Heroes andVictoria Cross Heroes Volume II.
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 November issue of Britain at War which is on sale now.