Medals

Let’s rejoice at the news that the NHS has been awarded the George Cross

By Lord Ashcroft

First published on ConHome on 05 July  2021.

I am thrilled and heartened by today’s announcement that the NHS has been awarded the George Cross (GC).

It is only the third time in the decoration’s 81-year-history that a collective GC has been awarded by the reigning monarch – and its recipient on this occasion could hardly be more deserving.

Yet again, the Queen has judged the mood of the nation perfectly and decided that this is the appropriate way to reward the devotion to duty, self-sacrifice and courage of our NHS staff.

The awards marks the 73rd birthday of the NHS, but it has clearly been prompted by the response of NHS staff to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In her hand-written personal message to accompany the news, the Queen concluded: “This award recognises all NHS staff, past and present, across all disciplines and all four nations. Over more than seven decades, and especially in recent times, you have supported the people of our country with courage, compassion and dedication, demonstrating the highest standards of public service. You have our enduring thanks and heartfelt appreciation. Elizabeth R” (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 Corporal William Edward Sparks, DSM. Sparks, known to his friends as Bill, was born in London’s East End and was a Cockney with an infectious laugh.

In 1942, he was chosen as one of just twelve men for a daring mission behind enemy lines. The plan was to use six Cockle Mark II canoes to paddle up the Gironde and Garonne rivers at night to attack German shipping by placing bombs on their hulls. (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 Wing Commander Forest Yeo-Thomas, GC, MC & Bar.

Yeo-Thomas, widely known simply as “Tommy’, was born in London but his parents moved to France when he and his two brothers were young so the three boys became bilingual. (more…)

See the April 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 April issue of the magazine has four pages on the life and career of Colonel John Duncan Grant, VC, CB, DSO, who was awarded the only VC for the Tibet campaign.

Grant, who was born in Rurki, India, and who was usually known as “Jack”, was from a military family. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant (unattached) in January 1898, aged 20. (more…)

Fighting fit at 103, the Capt Tom of Buenos Aires who left his homeland behind to fly Spitfires for Britain

By Lord Ashcroft

Published in the Mail on Sunday on 07 March 2021.

As he cycles along a quiet backstreet on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, there is an occasional wobble. And as he kicks a football at the local sports club, it is clear that his best days as a player are long behind him. Yet there is nothing to suggest that Ronny Scott celebrated his 100th birthday more than three years ago – or to hint at the incredible life he once led fighting for Britain, despite his Argentine nationality. (more…)

Cold Courage

By Lord Ashcroft

First published in Air Mail magazine in January 2021.

In January 1941, Flight Lieutenant Wilson Charlton was awarded the George Cross for disposing of more than 200 unexploded bombs – at a rate of more than three every day. But he was too busy to attend his investiture for another five years. On the 80th anniversary of his award, Lord Ashcroft tells Charlton’s story — and how his own fascination with bravery germinated and grew.

In the long and illustrious history of the George Cross (GC), few men have done more to earn the prestigious award than Wilson “Bombs” Charlton. Not only did he deal with an estimated 200 unexploded bombs in just two months but, after his GC was announced, he also showed great courage as a prisoner of war. (more…)

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 Assistant Section Officer Noor Inayat Khan, who was awarded the George Cross (GC) for bravery during the Second World War.

Khan, known to so many simply by her codename “Madeleine”, was the first woman secret agent to be infiltrated into Nazi-occupied France. Born in Moscow and from a truly international family, she was recruited to join the secretive Special Operations Executive (SOE). (more…)

“He will be remembered as the bravest man in history to never be awarded the Victoria Cross”

By Lord Ashcroft

First published in the Telegraph Magazine on Saturday, 14 November 2020.

Fearless, wild and brilliant – Paddy Mayne, founding father of the SAS, is reputed to have destroyed more German planes during the Second World War than the RAF’s top ace.

So why was his bravery never fully recognised in his lifetime?

Ahead of a new BBC drama, military historian Lord Ashcroft examines the extraordinary life – and premature death – of the most controversial Special Forces hero in history.

On a granite plinth in Conway Square in the centre of Newtownards, Co Down, there is a near life-size bronze statue in memory of the town’s most famous son. The inscription beneath it reads: ‘Lt Col Blair ‘Paddy’ Mayne 1915-1955.’

With a modesty that was typical of the man himself, there is no mention that he was a founding father of the SAS, no mention of his astonishing four Distinguished Service Order (DSO) awards from the Second World War, and no mention that Paddy Mayne was arguably the UK’s greatest-ever front-line soldier. (more…)

The Unknown Warrior represents all that is best about our military

By Lord Ashcroft

First published in the Sunday Express on 08 November 2020.

THERE are more than 3,300 graves, tombs and memorials in Westminster Abbey, including the final resting places of 30 kings and queens.

However, to me, there is one grave that, since it was placed in the floor of the 800-year-old building just inside the Great West Door, has a significance matched by no other.

It is the final resting place of the Unknown Warrior and has been rightly revered for an entire century – since King George V first paid his respects on Armistice Day, November 1920. (more…)

See the November 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 November issue of the magazine has four pages on the life and career of Petty Officer George McKenzie Samson, who was awarded the VC for bravery during the First World War.

Samson, who was born in Carnoustie, Forfarshire (now Fife), Scotland, led an adventurous life travelling extensively all over the world. He was awarded his VC for bravery during the Gallipoli landings in April 1915. (more…)