This blog post was compiled for GM1914 by Trafford Local Studies
Victoria Cross for Four Trafford Men
During the course of the First World War, four awards of the Victoria Cross were made to men from the Trafford area.
Captain Edward Kinder Bradbury
Royal Horse Artillery
1881 – 1914
Victoria Cross, Mentioned in Dispatches
Edward Kinder Bradbury was born on the 16th August 1881 at Church Bank, Bowdon, the son of Judge J. K. Bradbury of the Bury-Bolton circuit. He was educated at Marlborough and passed out of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, entering the Royal Artillery in 1900. He was promoted to Lieutenant in April 1901, and saw service in Cape Colony during the latter stages of the Boer War, receiving the Queen’s medal with 2 clasps. He was promoted to Captain in 1910.
At the outbreak of the Great War, Edward was serving with the British Expeditionary Force which, after being faced by an enemy far superior in number to its own, was retreating from Mons in Belgium. At Néry, France, ‘L’ Battery was attacked by a strong German force. Despite being severely wounded, Edward continued to direct the firing of the gun; he died later of his wounds.
His award of Victoria Cross was gazetted on the 25th November 1914 and was presented to his mother by King George V at Buckingham Palace. Part of the citation reads:
‘For gallantry and organising the defence of “L” Battery against heavy odds at Nery 1st September 1914.’
His General was quoted as saying:
‘Your son was simply beloved by us all from me, his General, down to the last joined subaltern.’
At dawn on the 1st September each year in Néry, the action is remembered by ‘L’ Battery, who present a thirteen pounder field gun and discharge a single shot.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission Nery Communal Cemetery
On September 1st 2014 the bravery of Edward Kinder Bradbury was honoured by Trafford Council with the presentation of a Blue Plaque on the site of his birthplace, Churchbank in Bowdon.
2nd Lieutenant Charles Harry Coverdale
1888 – 1955
Victoria Cross, Military Medal
Charles Harry Coverdale was born on the 21st April 1888 and is shown on the 1891 and 1901 censuses living with his family in Stretford Road, Old Trafford. In 1914, shortly after the outbreak of war, he enlisted in the Manchester Regiment, serving with the 11th Manchesters at Gallipoli, where he was promoted to Sergeant. He later served on the Western Front in France.
Charles was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in 1917 and the Victoria Cross in October that year for his bravery and leadership at the battle of Poelcapelle where he killed 3 snipers, rushed 2 machine gun positions, then reorganised his platoon to capture another position. Having been forced back, he later attacked with a smaller number of men and when again forced to withdraw, was himself the last to leave. Part of the citation, gazetted on the 18th December 1917, reads:
‘By his gallant leadership and utter disregard of danger throughout the attack he set a splendid example of fearlessness to his men, and inspired all with a spirit of emulation which undoubtedly contributed largely to the success of the operation.’
Charles was recommended for a commission and became a 2nd Lieutenant in 1918. After the war, he became the Chief Engineer of Joseph Lumb & Sons in Huddersfield. He died in 1955 and was buried with military honours in Edgerton Cemetery, Huddersfield.
In October 2017 Trafford Council will honour the bravery of Charles Harry Coverdale with the award of a Blue Plaque.
Major George Onions
3rd Hussars Reserve Regiment, 3rd King’s Own Hussars,
1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment
1883 – 1944
George Onions was born in Bilston, Wolverhampton on the 2nd March 1883 and educated at West Monmouthshire Grammar School, Pontypool. After a brief period in Australia, he came to live at 1 Cranford Avenue, Sale, where he enlisted in the army, transferring to the 1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment in 1917. As Lance-Corporal, he won the Victoria Cross at Achiet-le-Petit on the 22nd August 1918. Part of the citation reads:
‘For the most conspicuous bravery and initiative south of Acheit-le-Petit on 22nd August 1918… By his magnificent courage and presence of mind he averted what might have been a very dangerous situation.’
He was wounded and severely gassed during the action and evacuated to hospital in Liverpool.
A presentation to George Onions was made by Sale Borough Council on the 22nd February 1919, consisting of a cheque for £185, a gold watch and an illuminated address. The gold watch was inscribed:
‘Presented to Lance-Corporal George Onions of Sale, by his fellow townsmen in recognition of having won the Victoria Cross in the Great War’.
After the war he moved first to Northumberland and then to Birmingham where he died aged 61. He is buried in Quinton Cemetery, Birmingham.
In August 2018 Trafford Council will honour the bravery of George Onions with the award of a Blue Plaque.
Lieutenant Colonel James Neville Marshall
1887 – 1918
Victoria Cross, Military Cross and Bar
Official Order of Leopold, Chevalier Order of Leopold,
Croix de Guerre (Belgium)
James Neville Marshall was born on the 12th June 1887 at 2 Crosby Place, Steven Street, Stretford, the son of James Henry Marshall and Mary, née Walmsley. He married Edith Taylor in 1911.
In the First World War James enlisted in the Irish Guards. By 1918, he was an acting Lieutenant Colonel attached to the Lancashire Fusiliers. On the 4th November he was commanding 16th Battalion at the battle of the Sambre when a partly constructed bridge over the Sambre-Oise Canal came under concentrated fire and was broken before the advanced troops of his battalion could cross. James at once organised repair parties and under intense fire stood on the bank encouraging his men and assisting in the work. When the bridge was repaired he attempted to cross at the head of his battalion and was killed. He was aged 31.
Part of the citation in the London Gazette of the 13th February 1919 reads:
‘For the most conspicuous bravery, determination and leadership in the attack on the Sambre-Oise Canal, near Catillon, on the 4th November 1918… The passage of the canal was of vital importance, and the gallantry displayed by all ranks was largely due to the inspiring example set by Lt Col Marshall.’
Commonwealth War Graves Commission Ors Communal Cemetery
In November 2018 Trafford Council will honour the bravery of James Neville Marshall with the award of a Blue Plaque.
Image of Charles Harry Coverdale courtesy of the Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum and Archive, held by Tameside MBC
Image of George Onions courtesy of the Devonshire Regiment