The Victoria Cross medal is Britain's highest military honor. Less well-known is the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), the second
highest honor in the British Army for the non-officer classes. This article from The Telegraph describes how one war hero who
would otherwise have won the Victoria Cross got the DCM instead. -Editor
Army top brass refused to award George West a posthumous Victoria Cross after he died while rescuing a wounded boy during the Boer War
It was the sort of exceptional bravery in the face of enemy fire which should have merited the highest honour.
But when George West was recommended for a posthumous Victoria Cross after dying trying to rescue a wounded comrade during the Boer War,
the Army’s top brass refused point blank.
Although nobody questioned West’s valour, it was his secret past which rendered him ineligible.
For West was still classed by the British Army as a deserter.
Just a few years earlier he had fled Dartmouth Naval College after being rejected for an officer's commission because his parents
'lacked financial status.'
Instead, following his death, West was awarded the less prestigious Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), the second highest honour in the
British Army for the non-officer classes.
West’s remarkable story has only now emerged, 114 years later, after his descendants decided to put the medal up for sale.
The young man is thought to be the only British deserter subsequently recommended for a Victoria Cross.
West had been a brilliant naval rating at Dartmouth Naval College but dropped out and went Absent Without Leave, apparently angry at
being made a victim of class snobbery over his family’s straightened circumstances.
He assumed an alias and fled Britain, starting a new life in South Africa where he worked in the country’s diamond mines.
But when the Second Boer War broke out between Britain and the Dutch-South African Boers in 1899, West, still answered the call of duty.
By now in his early 20s, he joined the British Cape Town Highlanders as a private under the assumed name of John Moore.
To read the complete article, see:
brave deserter refused Victoria Cross after mounting rescue of comrade
Wayne Homren, Editor
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