Medals

See the July 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 July issue of the magazine has four pages on the life and career of Captain James Edgar Leach, who was awarded the VC for bravery during the First World War.

Leach, who was born in Lancaster, Lancashire, enlisted in the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, the Northamptonshire Regiment, in 1910. (more…)

The ups & downs of the Battle of Britain’s busiest flying ace.

By Lord Ashcroft

First published in Saga Magazine in July 2020. 

John Freeborn, a daring Spitfire pilot, overcame tragedy to end the war a hero, notching up more flying hours than any other defending our isles. Lord Ashcroft tells his amazing story as we mark the Battle of Britain’s 80th anniversary.

Wartime stories often contain a mix of tragedy and triumph. However, few pilots can have experienced such a range of emotions as Wing Commander John Freeborn during the Second World War.

A tough, no-nonsense Yorkshireman, Freeborn began the war as the central figure in a ‘friendly fire’ incident that claimed the life of a British airman, yet ended it not only highly decorated but with the distinction of flying more Battle of Britain hours than any other RAF pilot. (more…)

The parachuting padre

By Lord Ashcroft

First published in the Mail on Sunday on 07 June 2020.

When these battle-hardened troops from the recently formed SAS dropped behind German lines after D-Day, they demanded jeeps, guns, explosives – and a gallant Scot carrying a makeshift ‘church’ in a wicker hamper…

Thousands of Allied troops were already pressing forward on the ground by the time British Special Forces flew south over the darkened fields of France on June 21, 1944.

But for the SAS , this journey, two weeks after D-Day, would be one of the most dangerous missions of the Second World War – a parachute drop into the heart of occupied France, where the Germans were digging in. And where to be caught was a death sentence. (more…)

Our emergency service workers are genuine heroes – and those who have sacrificed their lives fighting Covid-19 deserve a fitting memorial in their memory

By Lord Ashcroft

First published in the Daily Express on 06 June 2020.

MY passion for bravery has spanned well over half a century and yet, even now, certain quotations associated with courage still stir my blood.

Thucydides was one of the first Greek historians and a skilled military general.

In the fifth century BC, he wrote: “The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.”

Nelson Mandela once said: “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

These two quotations, which I have long cherished, explain why I have such a deep-rooted admiration and respect for our emergency service workers. (more…)

See the June 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 June issue of the magazine has four pages on the life and career of Captain Gerald O’Sullivan, who was awarded the VC for bravery during the First World War.

O’Sullivan, who was born in Co Cork, was commissioned into the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in 1909. During the First World War, he served with the 1st Iniskillings that were chosen for duties in the Dardanelles. (more…)

Crack shot who took out 17 Germans with his rifle – then picked up his Bren gun…

By Lord Ashcroft

First published in the Mail on Sunday on 24 May 2020.

One of 40 British troops who held off 500 enemy, his courage saved countless lives at Dunkirk – and won the war’s first Army VC.

IT WAS Britain’s lowest point of the Second World War. Amid scenes of chaos and desperation, and under a relentless assault from bombs, mortars and gunfire, our Armed Forces, helped by civilians with boats, were tasked with rescuing well over 300,000 servicemen from a small French harbour.

They say that when the going gets tough, the tough get going and, at the height of Operation Dynamo, as the rescue mission was called, no one showed more grit, determination and courage than Captain Marcus Ervine- Andrews. (more…)

Seventeen minutes that made our SAS the most feared fighters in the world

By Lord Ashcroft

First published in the Daily Express on 05 May 2020.

Forty years on, respected military historian LORD ASHCROFT on the thrilling special forces operation to end the Iranian Embassy siege.

It was 10pm and Britain’s first woman Prime Minister was in the middle of a group of rugged SAS soldiers in jubilant spirits, sipping chilled beers. In a packed room at the Regent’s Park Barracks in central London, a television was wheeled in so everyone could watch the late news.

“****ing sit down, Maggie. I can’t see,” said Lance Corporal John “Mac” McAleese, a rock-hard Scot prone to colourful language.

For a moment, there was an awkward hush. It was not the way Margaret Thatcher was usually addressed. But she simply did as she was told and sat down cross-legged on the floor. Her husband, Denis, was nearby. (more…)

In This Together

By Lord Ashcroft

First published in the Daily Express on 04 May 2020.

This Friday’s VE Day anniversary plans may have changed – but we can still celebrate the values of courage, perseverance and love.
Let us learn the lessons from our past and mark this day with remembrance and reconciliation.

I was conceived shortly after VE Day. Perhaps that’s not surprising: my parents and the country had plenty to celebrate, personally and collectively.

My father Eric, a young officer serving in The South Lancashire Regiment, had survived the war despite being wounded during the D-Day Landings. My mother, Rene, who had worked as a Red Cross nurse, met my father when he was convalescing from his injuries. (more…)

The last Victoria Cross hero before VE Day who was so brave even the enemy marvelled

By Lord Ashcroft

This article was first published in the Mail on Sunday on 03 May 2020.

LORD ASHCROFT salutes a soldier who launched a one-man charge firing a machine-gun from his hip to save comrades in a Nazi ambush.

By late April 1945, the German army was in retreat and, after nearly six long years of war, the Allies were finally poised to defeat Adolf Hitler. For many British servicemen, particularly those who had served for all or most of the Second World War, thoughts inevitably turned to surviving the last battles and returning safely to their loved ones.

Yet for one man, Guardsman Edward Charlton of the Irish Guards, his finest hour was yet to come. For just days before Hitler’s suicide and, later, Germany’s surrender, he would display such outstanding bravery that he would be awarded the final Victoria Cross (VC) of the war in Europe. (more…)

See the May 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 May issue of the magazine has four pages on the life and career of Brevet Major John Knox VC, who was decorated with the Victoria Cross (VC) for great bravery during the Crimean War.

Knox, who was born in Calton, Glasgow, enlisted into the Scots Fusilier Guards in Glasgow in May 1843, aged 14, having run away from home. By the time he arrived in the Crimea in September 1954, he was serving in the rank of colour sergeant. (more…)