The gentlemanly swagger of Francis Octavius Grenfell

The First Victoria Cross of the European War, 1914. Captain Francis Grenfell, 9th Lancers at Audregnies, 24 August 1914' by Richard Caton Woodville

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The First Victoria Cross of the European War, 1914. Captain Francis Grenfell, 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers at Audregnies, 24 August 1914′ by Richard Caton Woodville.

 

was a remarkable rider and accomplished polo player before the war.

Grenfell was a remarkable rider and accomplished polo player before the war.

Grenfell was 33 years old that day he rode with the regiment in a charge against a large body of unbroken German infantry. The casualties were very heavy and the captain soon left as the senior officer. He was rallying part of the regiment behind a railway embankment when he was twice hit and severely wounded. In spite of his injuries, however, when asked for help in saving the guns, by Major Ernest Wright Alexander of the 119th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, he and some volunteers, under a hail of bullets, helped to manhandle and push the guns out of range of enemy fire. The citation was gazetted on 16 September 1914 and read:

    For gallantry in action against unbroken infantry at Andregnies, Belgium, on 24th August 1914, and for gallant conduct in assisting to save the guns of the 119th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, near Doubon the same day.

Grenfell however was later killed in action on 24 May 1915 and is buried in the Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery.

His VC is on display in the Regimental museum of the 9th/12th Royal Lancers.

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