20 May 2011

( select to enlarge )
Medal entitlement of Major Richard Willis,
1st Bn, Lancashire Fusiliers

  • Victoria Cross
  • Queen's Sudan Medal ( 1896 )
  • 1914-15 Star
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 )
  • Delhi Durbar Medal ( 1911 )
  • King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 )
  • Khedive's Sudan Medal ( 1896-1908 )
    • 1 clasp:
    • 'Khartourm'

The Victoria Cross and campaign medals awarded to Major Richard Willis have been acquired by the Michael Ashcroft Trust the holding institution for Lord Ashcroft's VC Collection. The Victoria Cross medal group is currently on display in the Imperial War Museum's Lord Ashcroft Gallery. ( Richard Willis's VC had previously been on a long loan to the Imperial War Museum - North, Trafford Park, Manchester ).

For the award of the Victoria Cross

[ London Gazette, 24 August 1915 ], W Beach, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, Turkey, 25 April 1915, Captain ( later Major ) Richard Raymond Willis, Sergeant Alfred Joseph Richards, Private William Keneally, 1st Bn, The Lancashire Fusiliers.

On the 25th April 1915, three Companies and the Headquarters of the 1st Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, in effecting a landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula to the West of Cape Helles, were met by a very deadly fire from hidden machine guns which caused a great number of casualties. The survivors, however, rushed up to and cut the wire entanglements, notwithstanding the terrific fire from the enemy, and, after overcoming extreme difficulties, the cliffs were gained and the position maintained.

Amongst the many very gallant Officers and men engaged in this most hazardous undertaking, Captain Willis, Serjeant Richards and Private Keneally have been selected by their comrades as having performed the most signal acts of bravery and devotion to duty.

  • Richard Willis was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 22nd September 1915.
  • Alfred Richards was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 26th September 1915
  • William Keneally's Victoria Cross was presented to his family by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 29th November 1916

Three further Victoria Crosses were later awarded to the 1st Bn, Lancashire Fusiliers under Rule 13 of the Royal Warrant ( Elected by the Regiment ). Along with the first three VCs, these are commonly known as the "Six VCs Before Breakfast". They were: [ London Gazette 15 March 1917 ]

  • Corporal John Elisha Grimshaw
  • Major Cuthbert Bromley ( Posthumous )
  • Sergeant Frank Edward Stubbs ( Posthumous )

Richard Willis died on the 9th February 1966 at the Faithful House Nursing Home, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and was cremated at the Cheltenham Crematorium and his ashes scattered in the Garden of Remembrance.


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Iain Stewart, 20 May 2011