Sergeant Ernest Albert Egerton VC
Sergeant Ernest Albert Egerton VC 16th (Chatsworth Rifles) Battalion Sherwood Foresters At Bulgar Wood on 20 September 1917 volunteered for a mopping up party in which he shot several Germans and took some 29 prisoners.
Died natural causes 14 February 1966. Medals in Regimental Museum Collection.
Ernest's Memory Lives On.
A WAR hero's name is set to live on for generations in his home village in North Staffordshire.
Sergeant Ernest Egerton was decorated after launching a solo attack on enemy dug-outs at Passchendaele Ridge on September 20, 1917.
His courage earned the corporal in the 16th Battalion The Sherwood Foresters the Victoria Cross for remarkable bravery.
Now part of a new housing development, which has been built opposite the family's home in Uttoxeter Road, Blythe Bridge, has been named in his honour.
Mr Egerton died in 1966, aged 68, and was buried with a full military guard of honour at St Peter's Church, Forsbrook.
His daughter Margaret Porter, who now lives in Hampshire, said she was delighted by the tribute to her father.
She said "We grew up as girls at the house in Uttoxeter Road and dad used to keep his Victoria Cross there in the bottom drawer of the bureau.
"He did not talk much about his wartime exploits but that as probably because we were all girls.
"After he died, we gave the medal to his regiment's museum in Nottingham, which we thought was fitting.
"I am especially delighted with this tribute because dad used to work for PMT and they always said they were going to name a bus after him - my son used to joke that it would be called Ern 1."
It is the second tribute to be paid to Sergeant Egerton in his home village within the last five years.
Exactly 80 years after his act of courage, a plaque was erected in his honour outside the family's former home.
A full military procession brought the village to a standstill as the community paid their respect to their Victoria Cross war hero.
Family friend John McNeal, who was also formerly secretary-treasurer for Blythe Bridge British Legion, added: I think it is great he should be honoured in this way in his home village.
"He is buried in the church yard and we always place the Royal British Legion wreath on his grave after the parade"
The naming of Egerton Close was recommended by the developers and approved by Staffordshire Moorlands Council.
Sergeant Egerton was one of only three men from the Potteries to be awarded the Victoria Cross.
|Act of bravery that saved the lives of many|
|Sergeant Egerton's citation for his Victoria
Cross reads: "On September, 1917 south-west of Ypres,
Belgium during an attack, visibility was bad owing to fog and smoke.
As a result, the two leading waves of the attack passed over certain hostile dug-outs without clearing them.
Enemy rifles and machine guns from these dug-outs were inflicting severe casualties.
Corporal Egerton at once responded to a call for volunteers to help in clearing up the situation.
He dashed for the dugouts under heavy fire at short range.
He shot a rifleman, a bomber and a gunner.
By which time, support had arrived and 29 of the enemy surrendered."
His Citation read
|'For the most conspicuous bravery, initiative and devotion to duty when during an attack visibility was obscured owing to fog and smoke as a result of which the two leading waves of the attack passed over certain hostile dugouts without clearing them. Enemy rifles assisted by a machine-gun were from these dug-outs inflicting severe casualties on the advancing waves. When volunteers were called to assist in clearing up the situation, Corporal Egerton at once jumped up and dashed for the dugouts under heavy fire at short range. He shot in succession a rifleman, a bomber and a gunner, by which time he was supported and 29 of the enemy surrendered. The reckless bravery of the NCO relieved in less than 30 seconds an extremely difficult situation. His gallantry is beyond all praise.'|
A Village Hero's Life
||Ernest Albert Egerton was born on 10th September 1897, at Meir Lane, Longton, Staffordshire, the third son of Thomas Henry Egerton. Educated at Queen's Street, Cooke Street and Blurton Church Schools, he entered Florence Colliery at the age of 16, working as a haulage hand. On his eighteenth birthday, he enlisted at Shelton recruiting office in the 3rd North Staffordshire Regiment. Two brothers also served in the army: his eldest brother Thomas Edward was medically discharged from active service by December 1917 and his second brother William Charles was an Acting Corporal in the Rifle Brigade and was killed in action on 17th August 1917 aged 28. William worked for the Stoke-on-Trent Corporation and resided at, 30 Foley Street, Fenton, Staffordshire. His youngest brother Harold, was only a youth at the time of the War; therefore he was not old enough for active service.|
|After undergoing training at Wallsend-on-Tyne,
Ernest was posted to 1st North Staffordshires in France, and transferred
in October 1916 to the 16th Sherwood Foresters.
Promoted lance-corporal on 21st February 1917 and Corporal 23rd August 1917, he came through the fighting on the Somme and at Ypres unscathed. He received his Victoria Cross from King George V at Buckingham Palace on 5th December and was given a tumultuous welcome in his home town. Among the many letters of congratulations was one from the Duke of Devonshire, who had taken special interest in the unit which took its name from his family's seat at Chatsworth. After pressure from Stoke's civic leaders, Egerton was granted extended leave to attend an official reception where directors, managers and workers at the Florence Colliery presented him with an inscribed silver cigarette-case and war bonds worth £85
Egerton was badly gassed during the enemy's spring offensive the following year. After a spell in hospital in France, he returned to his unit and was promoted Sergeant on 11th May. He left the battalion on 20th August and returned to England for officer training. He joined a cadet school at Ripon, but evidently declined a commission, joining the 3rd Sherwood Foresters as a Sergeant-instructor.
On 3rd August he was given a public reception at Longton Town Hall, where he received an illuminated testimonial.
He later married Elsie May Gimbert on Sunday 1st September 1918 at
Forsbrook parish church. Miss E. Gimbert was the youngest daughter of
Mr. & Mrs. Gimbert of Blythe Bridge. The ceremony was conducted
by the Rev. E. W. Bridgwood, Vicar, and was fully choral, the choirmaster
(Mr. Saunders) presiding the organ.
But Egerton confounded them all. Ten years later, he attributed his
'miraculous recovery' to a 12-month sojourn at Preston Hall, Aylesford,
in Kent, where the Ministry of Pensions, and later the British Legion,
staged training courses for injured ex-servicemen. Training as a gamekeeper,
he obtained the full benefits of open-air life in the Kentish countryside.
|During the Second World War he served in the
Volunteer's Local Defence (L.D.V). Later to be called the Home Guard (H.G)
and later became a security officer at Rootes Aircraft Works, Blythe Bridge,
and then the Staffordshire Potteries Works in Meir, where he worked for
14 years as a lodgeman. Despite his sometimes fragile health, Ernest Egerton
survived into his retirement, sadly dying at his Blythe Bridge home on
14th February 1967, aged 68. He was buried with full military honours
in Forsbrook cemetery, not far from the church where he was married almost
50 years previous.
On His Majesty, King George V's invitation, an Afternoon Party was held at Buckingham Palace on 26th June 1920 for the recipients of the Victoria Cross in which Sergeant Egerton attended and he also attended the VC Reunion Dinner in The Royal Gallery, House of Lords, Palace of Westminster, London, on Saturday, 9th November 1929.
Exactly eighty years later on September 20th 1997, which was the exact day when Sergeant Egerton bravely launched his solo attack on enemy dug-outs at Passchendaele Ridge a joint ceremony was held.
Firstly a ceremony was held at Staffordshire Potteries where Ernest worked as the lodge man and then a full military procession took place from the cenotaph next to the Forsbrook parish church, through his home village of Blythe Bridge and it ended at his former home in the village. Mrs Woolridge whom has lived at Sergeant Ernest Egerton's family home for many years was an inspiration in organizing the event in Blythe Bridge.
|Invested by the King
The King held an investiture at Buckingham Palace, Wednesday
His Majesty in Field Marshall's undress uniform and with him were the Lord-in-Waiting, the Groom-in-Waiting, the Equerry in Waiting, the Master of the household, the Controller of the Lord Chamberlain's Department and a number of distinguished officers.
Each man in turn was presented to the King, and stood while the Equerry-
in Waiting read an account of the particular deed for which the coveted
decoration was awarded.
Near the main gates each had also to submit to the process of being snapshotted, and Cpl Egerton and his gallant comrades received the hearty congratulations from their friends and others assembled outside the Palace.
Longton's Scheme of Recognition
A meeting was called on Tuesday 4th Dec 1917 in Longton town hall to
consider suitable steps to be taken by Longton as a town, to one of
its sons and mark his supremely rewarded and thrilling exploit. Officials
and committee were elected reflecting the different sections of the
community to organise a testimonial fund. It was also announced that
a handsome illuminated address of congratulations to Corpl Egerton would
be given to the committee. It was stated that at Florence colliery,
where Corpl Egerton worked prior to enlistment, the proprietors, staff
and workmen were formulating a testimonial. Among those present in the
hall were, Mr. and Mrs Kear, (Blythe Bridge Corpl Edgerton's maternal
grandparents) Mr. G.P. Hyslop, (agent at Florence colliery) Mr. J.W.
Gibson, (Headmaster at Cooke St. school) of which Corpl Egerton was
a one-time scholar.
Coral Egerton arrived in the Potteries shortly after noon on Saturday December 8th 1917. At one time it seemed North Staffordshire was going to be in the supremely proud position of welcoming with large-hearted gratitude, two V.C. heroes; but a fate, unkind in the extreme, and with a suddenness, which shocked the entire community of the district, was claimed by the death of Lance Sergt Rhodes V.C. of Tunstall, who would have shared in the demonstrative appreciation which awaited Coral Egerton.
Sentinel Reporter Interview
A Sentinel reporter found Corpl Egerton a pleasant young man. At first
he was reluctant to speak of his act of heroism, but eventually he put
into his own simple language the official record setting forth his "reckless
bravery." "It was in September, he said, I felt lost at first.
I was in a shell-hole in front of some concrete dugouts, and someone
with a machine gun was causing heavy casualties on our left flank, which
included some North Staffords. I could see the damage they were inflicting,
so I took it into my head to go forward. I kept running from shell hole
to shell hole until I got to the back of this particular concrete dug
out, and having gone so far, I could see three men with a machine gun.
Longton's Great Ovation
The Mayor, wearing his chain of office and deputy Mayor along with
the Longton testimonial movement officials, went by train from Stoke
with Coral Egerton, to Longton, where a striking demonstration awaited
them. As the train entered the station a peal of bells could be heard
from the neighbouring belfry of St John's church. The crowd of people
who had assembled on the platform sent up a salvo of cheers. That however
was nothing compared with the deafening reception accorded to the young
hero, when carried shoulder high by two men in khaki as he emerged from
the station. The vicinity of the station, packed with people eager to
get a glimpse of the young hero and the enthusiastic cheering with which
he had been greeted on making his appearance was renewed as he drove
off in an open carriage accompanied by the Mayor and deputy Mayor on
a triumphal tour of the town, along with many sections and organisations
in the community. Two former police officers that happened to be on
leave, Sergt Flower, (Mounted Military Police) and Sergt Rye of (The
Lancers) formed part of the military escort, which flanked the V.C.s
carriage, mounted on horses lent by Mr. Wm. Hall of Southlands, Longton.
The route traversed by the procession from the station entered Stafford
St. as far as the Sutherland Institute, Rosslyn Rd. Trentham Rd. Belgrave
Rd. Chaplin Rd. Upper Normacot Rd. High St. and Market St. to the town
On Sunday morning Coral Egerton V.C., along with his friends, attended Edensor Church, where only a few weeks ago a memorial service was conducted for his brother, who was killed in action. Members of the Edensor Girl Guides and Wardens Messrs Shaw and Heath had met him at Longton station.
A Cordial Send-Off
Corpl Egerton left the Potteries on Thursday morning for Manchester, prior to reporting in London on Friday 14th December for further service. The send off which he was given at Stoke station was not lacking in heartiness even though it was without the formality and distinction which characterised his arrival on Saturday last. Along with a number of relatives and friends he had arrived at stoke station in good time for the Manchester train leaving Stoke just before 9.30 am.
Handsome Presentation from Florence Colliery
As a result of telegraphic communication between Mr. S. Barber, manager of Florence colliery, and Corpl Egerton after the latter had reached London to report for further service on Friday last, the army authorities granted the young NCO a special four days leave in-order that he might attend at Longton town hall on Monday evening to receive a practical expression of the pride and delight which his decoration has occasioned among the proprietors, the management and employees of the Florence colliery, where Corpl Egerton formally worked. All the departments of the colliery were represented in a gift, which awaited the V.C. although the company was on the small side. Corpl Egerton was presented by the directors, staff and employees with £85.10, the bulk of which was in the shape of war savings certificates. He also received hearty congratulations from all concerned including his former workfellows. It was agreed to leave the bulk of the investment in the hands of Mr. G.P. Hyslop. Mr. S. barber, Mr. G. Till and Mr. S. Haile, as trustees would take care of the investment until Corpal Egerton finally returned from the war.
Corpl Egerton agreed with this and said he had also made provision for any eventuality and if, as god forbid anything any thing should happen to him, he had left instructions as to what must be done. There were more speeches from the colliery representatives, then the presentation took place, and with an enthusiastic ovation, he received the war certificates, £5 in cash and a silver cigarette case. The cigarette case bore the inscription; December 1917 presented to Coral E.A. Egerton V.C. by the officials and workmen of Florence colliery on the occasion of his being awarded the Victoria Cross. (Applause)
Corpl Edgerton's Reply
The applause was resumed with vigour as Corpl Egerton rose to respond. Once or twice in the course of his remarks he paused momentarily, but generally speaking he addressed the audience with fluency and delightfully boyish simplicity, he said it was a great pleasure to him to be able to stand in front of the employees from "the old firm" to which he was proud to belong. He could not express the words how he appreciated all that the staff and employees of the colliery had done. He had had a few gifts presented to him but he would treasure theirs more than any of the others, as having come from his old colleagues, men who had to work hard to get their money. "I know it is hard work" he said "because I have done some". He would be pleased if he if he could think that he was going to resume work at Florence colliery the following day, but they had all got their duty to do to get the war finished, as had been said. The men from Florence colliery responded well to the call of King and country in 1914. He was very proud to say that when he had been in difficult situations in the battlefield, he had come across a few lads who used to work with him "we were not able to have a drink together" he remarked "we were a bit to close to the Germans". Proceeding, Corpl Egerton said that he had enlisted in the North Stafford Regiment, and he would not be surprised if he were called back to that Regiment. Although he was in the Sherwood Forresters at the present nearly the whole of his battalion were North Staffordshire men. It was always re-enforced by The North Staffords, and on one occasion after they had come out of an attack a General came round to see them and specially mentioned his pride in the men from North Staffs who had joined the Sherwood Forresters and had helped them achieve some of the successes which they had secured. He would take that cigarette case back with him to the battlefield, and every time he opened it he would think of the men who worked at Florence colliery. He hoped that the war would soon be over, so that all the boys could resume their old jobs. (Applause)
Mr. Barber, manager, finished off, saying they were all pleased that Corpl Egerton had been granted a special 4 day's leave for the presentation and went on to describe how he managed that, and hoped it would not be too long before he was back at work, because they could do very well with his sort at the colliery.
Longton's V.C.s Return from War
He had returned back to the front, survived the major offensives at
the Somme and Ypres unscathed, but was badly gassed during the German
"Kaiserschlact" offensive of spring 1918.
As Mayor, Alderman W.E. Robinson indicated while making a presentation
to Sergeant Egerton, that the honour is so great that it is saved for
the few, and is counted a prize beyond all others because it goes to
only those whose glorious gallantry stands out conspicuously above all
that is so magnificent and so noble, that no ordinary reward could mark
An Illuminated Address
There was a very large attendance at Longton Town Hall on Friday evening.
The chair was occupied by Mr. H. Aynsley J.P. on whose right hand was mounted a handsome illuminated testimonial, the work of Messrs. Hughes and Harber Ltd. It was draped and surmounted with a Union Jack; the inscription was as follows;
The platform was adorned in tasteful style by the flags of all the
Allies; with the Stars and Stripes in particular prominence hung right
across the front and a representative assembly of all the dignitaries
The Mayors Remarks
The Mayor said it was his pleasing duty and great privilege to make
a presentation on behalf of the townspeople, to Sergeant Egerton, who
they were glad to see, had been created a Sergeant since he was last
The Presentation by the Mayor
Sergeant Egerton, I have now very great pleasure and the very great
privilege to ask your acceptance of this very beautiful illuminated
address, the context of which has been read by Mr. W.H. Jones. I also
ask you to accept this gift of money, particulars of which have been
read out by Mr. A.B. Jones and I pray that everything that is contained
in this address, the sentiments as to yourself, may be fully realised:
Sergeant Egerton in his reply said:
First of all let me thank you with all my heart for the rousing reception
you have given me tonight. Your kindness to me will always be a pleasant
memory. I only did my duty, like thousands of more of my comrades are
doing every day. Fortunately, I came through safely and what I tried
to do has been generously recognised. My family, and I will always treasure
the handsome testimonial you have given me especially as Mr. Harber,
who has been a great friend to me in so many ways, has given it to me.
The money accompanying the address will be extremely useful to me especially
as I'm being bold enough to get married on Sunday. My future wife and
I intend taking care of that part of your gift that is the money part,
for a rainy day.
FIRST WORLD WAR HERO MOURNED AT FORSBROOK
Sergeant Ernest A Egerton, V.C.
|Sergeant Ernest Albert Egerton,
a First World War hero, who won the V.C. on Passchendaele Ridge, 49 years
ago, was laid to rest on Thursday.
Many of his former comrades gathered around his graveside at Forsbrook Parish Church, as the Last Post was sounded for the Potteries last surviving V.C. of the First World War: who died at his home in Uttoxeter Road, Blythe Bridge aged sixty-eight years.
The Last Post was played by two buglers from Mr. Egerton's old regiment. The Sherwood Foresters.
Among the mourners who packed the church were several who were among the crowd which gave Mr. Egerton a hero's homecoming at Longton Station when he returned home from the war.
Members of the British Legion formed a guard of honour at the Church entrance.
The above was taken from the TIMES AND ECHO Friday February 25th 1966
Some Very Useful Refernce Links are Listed Below:
Finally my thanks go to Mr. John Lumsdon for allowing me to use some of his work, also a big thankyou goes to Mrs. Mary Woolridge (nee Jolly), whom was a fantastic help in collating a vast amount of information, photographs and memorabilia in which in turn made my job in making this website on Sergeant Egerton both enjoyable and a privilege to research and document for future generations
|Maintained and Funded by Steve Nail||
© egerton.org.uk 2006-2007
Updated 4/07/07 3:55 PM