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 four pages on the life and career of Lieutenant Maurice James Dease VC, who displayed exceptional bravery in the early days of the First World War. In fact, he was the first officer in the Great War to be awarded the VC posthumously.
Dease, who was born in County Westmeath, Ireland, in September 1889, was a Roman Catholic who took his religious beliefs seriously. He was commissioned into the 4th Battalion, The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), in May 1910 as a second lieutenant.
After the outbreak of the Great War and by this point a full lieutenant, he went with the British Expeditionary Force to Belgium. On August 23 1914, his battalion was defending the Nimy bridges to the north of Mons against a much larger German force that then attacked.
Despite being hit three times, Dease rallied his men and, after his unit took several casualties, he single-handedly manned a machine-gun post. Dease held out for hours but he was eventually wounded a fourth and fifth time. His final wound proved fatal and he died, aged 24. His posthumous VC was announced on November 16 1914.
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 February issue of Britain at War which is on sale now.