In the selection of the Men to receive the Victoria Cross Rule thirteen
was not strictly adhered to. It is believed that it was the intention to
award one of these awards and it is clear that only one ballot took place.
The evidence being the results of the vote by the members of the 4th Battalion.
Two men were awarded the Victoria Cross in a ballot held on the 26th April at the Royal Marine Depot at Deal. The ballot contained both Officers and Men of the 4th Battalion, contravening Rule 13 of The Royal Warrant for the Victoria Cross, dated the 29th of January 1856.
The men were assembled on the Parade ground, where slips of voting paper were handed to those present. (It is not known whether the hospital wounded voted or not, but it is known that they were included in the ballot.)
The ballot results, shown below, included the names of both officers and men. The two VCs being awarded to Sergeant Norman Finch with 91 votes and Captain Edward Bamford with ?? votes. The sheet shows Bamford having 34 Votes then crossed out and adding 64 Votes. The reasons for the alterations are not explained.
On the 22nd and 23 of April 1918 a battle took place at Zeebrugge in Belgium. It was mounted by two thousand men of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir Roger Keyes.
This port was a base for German submarines, from which they attacked and sank Allied shipping. They accounted for over a third of all the tonnage sunk in World War One. Over two thousand five hundred allied ships sent to the bottom.
It was vital that this port was denied to them and this raid was to ensure that it was. Three ships were sunk across the entrance to the harbour; rendering the trapped submarines useless.
The battle was fierce and the attacking force faced fierce opposition and suffered heavy losses. Marines and Sailors landed on the Mole and stormed the enemy defences. Whilst the fighting was in progress three 'blocking' ships were scuttled; they were the HM Ships Thetis Intrepid and Iphiginia and also HM Submarine C3.
Such was the bravery during this action that it was found difficult to award honours for valour. So many men, both sailors and marines so distinguished themselves in battle. that a ballot was used to make the awards for bravery. For the Royal Marines the following men were recommended to be entered into the ballot for the Victoria Cross:.
|Finch (Sgt. RMA)
|Walker (C Co.)
|Horton (12 Plbt.)
|Holdridge (1Plt.[MG Iris])
|Hopewell (9 Plt.)
|Bessant (B Co.)
|Press (B Co.)
|Smith (11 Plt.)
|Radford (C Co.)
|Broom (C Co)
The account of Captain Edward Bamford of the Royal Marines Light Infantry
was that on the night of the 22nd and 23rd of April 1918, St. George's Day,
from HMS Vindictive, he landed, under great difficulty in the darkness.
on the Mole with three platoons of Royal Marines In the face of intensive
enemy fire he led the Company with great disregard for personal danger;
setting a magnificent example to his men. When he was satisfied with the
safe establishment of the first strong point, he then led his men in an
assault on an enemy battery on the left
Captain Bamford was born in London on the 28 May 1887. He died in Shanghai, China, at the young age of 41 on 29 September 1928. He held three other honours, Legion d'Honneur (France); Order of St. Anne, third class, (Russia.); Order of the Rising Sun, Fourth Class (Japan.)
The account of Sergeant Finch, of the Royal Marine Artillery, tells us
that on the 22 and 23 of April 1918,
Sergeant Finch was the second in command of the pom-pom and Lewis gun in the foretop of HMS Vindictive. During one period, the Vindictive sustained hits every few seconds. The officer in command and Finch kept up a perpetual flow of fire. Two heavy enemy shells hit them directly on the foretop; killing or disabling the others. Severely wounded himself, Sergeant Finch kept harassing the enemy, entrenched on the Mole, from his battered and exposed position. Another direct hit finally put the rest of the armament out of action.
Sergeant Finch, later to become a Lieutenant, was born in Handsworth, Birmingham on Boxing Day 1890. He was a Sergeant-Major in the Queen's Bodyguard of Yeoman of the Guard in 1961.
His VC was Gazetted on the 23 of July 1918. He died in Portsmouth, Hampshire on 15 March 1966 and was
cremated at Porchester. His ashes were transferred to Southampton and from there the trail ends. His only known memorial is at the Eastney Barracks, Royal Marines Museum, Southsea.
COMMANDER (ACTING CAPTAIN) ALFRED F.B. CARPENTER.
Commander of the HMS Vindictive at Zeebrugge, 23 April
The board of Admiralty have approved the promotion of Commander (Acting Captain) Alfred. F.B. Carpenter,R.N., to
Captain, to date, April 23 1918, in recognition of his services in command of HMS Vindictive on the same occasion.
Captain Alfred Francis Blakeney Carpenter entered the Royal Navy in September, 1897, was promoted Commander in June, 1915, and was appointed for the War Staff course in 1913. He holds the silver medal of the Royal Humane Society.
Lieutenant Richard Douglas SANDFORD
On the Royal Naval side of the assault, another VC was awarded for heroism to Lieutenant Richard Douglas SANDFORD who was in command of HM Submarine C3. He was born in Exmouth, Devon on the 11 May1891 and died, aged 27, on the 23 November 1918.
His Memorials are at Eston Cemetery, Yorkshire and Exeter Cathedral.
Apart from the Victoria Cross he was also the holder of the Legion d'Honneur (Belgium.)
His VC was Gazetted on 23 July 1918
On the 22 and 23 of April 1918 at Zeebrugge, Belgium, Lieutenant Sandford skilfully placed his vessel, HM Submarine C3, between the piles of the viaduct which connected the Mole with the shore. After laying his fuse, she was abandoned and left to blow up the viaduct. He rejected the choice of using the gyro-steering that would have allowed his crew and himself to abandon the Submarine at a comfortable distance. Instead he preferred to ensure that the purpose of the mission was achieved successfully.