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 January issue of the magazine has four pages on the life and career of Lieutenant Edward Benn Smith, VC, DCM, who displayed exceptional bravery in the final months of the First World War.
Smith, known as “Ned” to family and friends, was born in Maryport, Cumberland (now part of Cumbria), in November 1898. In July 1917, by which point he was 18 years old, he enlisted as a private with the Lancashire Fusiliers.
Incredibly, Smith earned his two gallantry medals on the battlefield in the space of just 11 days in the summer of 1918. On August 11, he and his men inflicted heavy casualties on a much larger, 40-strong enemy party, earning him the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM).
On August 21, while in charge of a platoon, Smith attacked a machine-gun post during the Battle of Albert, killing at least six of the enemy himself before carrying out other brave deeds. For this action, he was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC).
Smith remained in the Army after the war and, after a short break in his military service, rejoined early in the Second World War. He died from a gunshot wound to the head, possibly self-inflicted, while serving in France on January 12, 1940. He was 41 years old.
Lord Ashcroft’s articles for Britain at War over the past 11 years have been largely based on excerpts from his seven books on gallantry: Victoria Cross Heroes, Special Forces Heroes, George Cross Heroes, Heroes of the Skies, Special Ops Heroes, Victoria Cross Heroes Volume II and Falklands War Heroes.
Lord Ashcroft is a military historian who has lectured extensively on courage and his various medal collections.
- Lord Ashcroft’s latest article appears January issue of Britain at War which is on sale now.