Medals

HERO OF THE SKIES

By Lord Ashcroft

First published in Saga Magazine in January 2022.

As the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War approaches, we celebrate one of its heroes, William O’Brien, who is the only Royal Marine ever to receive the Distinguished Flying Medal. ‘Uncle Bill’ went on to be the oldest pilot to fly missions in Afghanistan, flying helicopters with the Royal Naval Reserve. By Lord Michael Ashcroft.

Four decades ago, his skill and bravery in the Falklands – evacuating casualties by helicopter under enemy fire – earned pilot William O’Brien a unique honour. In recognition of 17 night-flying sorties, rescuing wounded personnel and resupplying vital ammunition, he became the only Royal Marine ever to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM), and received the only such decoration of the conflict.

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See the January issue of Britain at War for Lord Ashcroft’s new bravery article

By Lord Ashcroft

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 Major Charles George Gibson “Pat” Riley DCM, one of the earliest and most courageous members of the SAS.

Riley was born in Wisconsin, USA, to an Irish-American family. However, when he was just seven, the family moved to Cumbria. After working first in a quarry, he joined the Coldstream Guards in January 1934, aged 18. (more…)

‘SAINT’ WHO WENT MARCHING ON

By Lord Ashcroft

First published in the Daily Express on 04 January 2022.

As his medals join the world’s greatest collection of gallantry awards, the long journey of Colour Sergeant Alwyn Stevens from the remote island of St Helena to guts and glory in Afghanistan.

I WAS a toddler when I first visited St Helena. It was a stop-off for my family on our way to Africa where my father Eric Ashcroft was taking up a post as a colonial officer. I’ve had a soft spot for the remote volcanic island ever since and until Covid-19 intervened, was a regular visitor to the British Overseas Territory where Napoleon was exiled after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.

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See the December issue of Britain at War for Lord Ashcroft’s new bravery article

By Lord Ashcroft

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 December issue of the magazine has four pages on the life and career of Guardsman Edward Charlton, who was awarded the last VC of the European theatre at the end of the Second World War.

Charlton, who was born in Rowlands Gill near Gateshead in County Durham, volunteered for the Irish Guards shortly after the outbreak of the war in September 1939. He was then aged 19. (more…)

Forty years on since the Falklands War, my new book celebrates the bravery of our Armed Forces

By Lord Ashcroft

First published on ConservativeHome.com on 17 November 2021.

Last night I was able to host what habecome that rarest of events: a live book launch with real guests. My book launches over the past 20 months have, sadly, had to be “virtual” online events because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

I welcomed nearly 250 guests to Millbank Tower, central London, to mark the publication of my latest bravery book: Falklands War Heroes. Politicians, members (and former members) of our Armed Forces, business leaders, lawyers, charity bosses and journalists mixed happily with my friends and family.

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Times Radio interviews Lord Ashcroft

By Lord Ashcroft

Released on 16 November 2021.

Matt Chorley of the Times Radio interviews Lord Ashcroft about his book, Falklands War Heroes, on the day of its official launch.

Listen to full interview … 

Hero Para who led charge on an Argentine machine gun post – and won last VC of 20th Century: Sergeant Ian McKay’s disregard for his own life was awe-inspiring

By Lord Ashcroft

Serialisation published in The Mail on Sunday on 14 November 2021.

During the long sea crossing from England to the Falklands, Sergeant Ian McKay wrote to a friend in the spring of 1982: ‘I have no intention of taking any risks and getting killed. If I do, then it will be to protect my men, to save lives.’

His words were tragically prescient. He would go on to be awarded the last Victoria Cross earned in the 20th Century for the extreme valour and selflessness that cost him his life.

The 29-year-old’s call to arms had been sudden and unexpected as events in the South Atlantic escalated.

Finishing a game of football with a group of friends, he had received an urgent message to return to his barracks at Aldershot in Hampshire.

‘He came in and went out,’ his wife Marica later recalled. ‘I put his dinner in a Tupperware container and he went straight away. He just said, “I’ve got to go.”

‘I never saw him again.’

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Was this the bravest VC of them all?

By Lord Ashcroft

First published in The Sunday Telegraph on 14 November 2021.

In a quiet corner of Twickenham Cemetery, south-west London, beneath the outstretched branches of a gnarled cherry tree, there is a black marble tombstone. “Cherished memories of a dearly loved husband, father and grandfather,” reads the inscription.

However, it is two letters after the name of the individual that makes this grave so different from the others: “V.C.”, standing for Victoria Cross, Britain and the Commonwealth’s most prestigious decoration for gallantry in the presence of the enemy.

This is the grave of Warrant Officer Norman Jackson VC; as someone with a lifelong interest in bravery, I am the privileged custodian of the Jackson medal group. It is part of my VC collection – more than 200 strong and the largest in the world – that is on public display in the Imperial War Museum, London.

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Saluting the bravest of the brave – the only combat soldier ever to be awarded two Victoria Crosses

By Lord Ashcroft

First published in the New Zealand Herald on 14 November 2021.

Few military graveyards are set in a location as stunning as Suda Bay War Cemetery.

Situated below olive groves buzzing with cicadas and only a stone’s throw from the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea, it commemorates more than 1500 fallen Commonwealth servicemen from World War II.

Walking through row upon row of white headstones on perfectly manicured lawns in northwest Crete, it is impossible not to feel deeply moved by quite how many young lives were lost 80 years ago during the battle for this picturesque Greek island.

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Lord Ashcroft unveils his new bravery website on Armistice Day

By Lord Ashcroft

A new website featuring Lord Ashcroft’s lifelong passion for bravery has gone “live” today – Armistice Day.

The site is packed with information on Lord Ashcroft’s media and publishing work over the past 15 years relating to gallantry.

The new site – www.lordashcroftonbravery.com – includes the following information: (more…)