Private Harry Christian VC

Private Harry Christian VC

Harry Christian was born in Pennington on 17 January 1892, the second son of William and Mary Christian.  He was baptised at Pennington Church on 28 February 1892.

His father’s occupation was shown as miner and they lived at Carkettle.  According to the admission register for Ulverston Church of England School, Harry started on 8 Jan 1900 moving there from St Mary’s Infant School. The 1901 census shows Harry living at Tarn Close in Osmotherley with his parents and siblings: William, Maggie, John and Martha.  James and Walter were born in the next five years, showing up on the 1911 census when the family was living at Low Mill in Egremont.

Harry’s army records show that he joined the Kings Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment Special Reserve) on 10 December 1909.  His occupation is listed as farm labourer.  He was 5 feet 4 inches tall with a chest measurement of 32 inches.  He weighed just under 8 stone. On 5 April 1910 he transferred to The Kings Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) and on 7 April 1910 was sent to Jersey. From there he went to India, being stationed at Lucknow and Calcutta.  He served in France between January and October 1915, went to Salonica until November 1918 and then Turkey before being demobilised in June 1919.  His records show that he suffered from malaria in December 1916.

Harry was fined or confined to barracks several times for being drunk or for using obscene language.  On one occasion he was fined 5 s, ordered to pay damages and detained for 14 days for “kicking a native tea seller’s can over”. He also assaulted a police officer and an officer.

Harry was awarded his Victoria Cross for his actions during the Battle on Loos at Givenchy on 18 October 1915. His citation reads in the London Gazette on 3 March 1916 reads:

“For most conspicuous bravery. He was holding a crater with five or six men in front of our trenches. The enemy commenced a very heavy bombardment of the position with; heavy “minenwerfer” bombs, forcing a temporary withdrawal. When he found that three men were missing, Private Christian at once returned alone to the crater, and, although bombs were continually bursting actually on the edge of the crater, he found, dug out, and carried one by one into safety all three men, thereby undoubtedly saving their lives. Later he placed himself where he could see the bombs coming, and directed his comrades when and where to seek cover.”

Harry was the first member of regiment to be awarded the Victoria Cross. He was badly wounded and returned home. He received his medal from King George V at Ibrox Park, Glasgow on 18 September 1917.

For photographs of Harry Christian receiving his medal and his medals please go to the website of the Kings Own Museum

On being discharged from the army. Harry returned to Egremont where he was the landlord of the Park Head Inn in Thornhill for 40 years. Harry married Ellen Simm in 1920. He died on 2 September 1974
Harry Christian was born in Pennington on 17 January 1892, the second son of William and Mary Christian. He was baptised at Pennington Church on 28 February 1892.