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    Harry Mugford VC


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    Harold Mugford was born on 31 August 1894, he was a keen cricketer, enjoyed outdoor pursuits, and was a member of the Essex Yeomanry.

    He was mobilised in August 1914, and saw action in the Ypres Salient in the early part of 1915 and again at the Battle of Frezenberg Ridge where the Essex Yeomanry distinguished themselves. He was also with the Regiment at the Battle of Loos. During this time Harold was buried on no less than three occasions when high explosive shells exploded close to his post.

    The machine-gun detachment of the Essex Yeomanry, in which Mugford was then serving, was transferred to the 8th Squadron, Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry) on 3 March 1916, although they remained attached to the Regiment.

    On 9 April 1917, the British First and Third Armies launched a major offensive on a 14-mile front from Vimy Ridge to Croisilles; the main thrust being in the central sector, east of Arras. The German front was broken and advances of nearly four miles were made in some places on the first day, and it seemed likely that a wider breakthrough might be achieved. Cavalry units were brought forward in the hope of exploiting the early success.

    Early on the morning of 11 April, the 8th Cavalry Brigade (of which the Essex Yeomanry formed part) were ordered to move forward and to capture the high ground on the east and north east of Monchy-le-Preux, which it was believed had been taken by infantry units of the 37th Division. Heavy enemy fire from the village of Roeux in the north forced a change in the direction of the Yeomanry's advance into Monchy itself. It was found that that although the enemy had withdrawn, the village was not defended and was under imminent threat of counter-attack. The Regiment therefore took steps to secure and hold the village. The Germans put down a heavy box-barrage on the village and brought up a large numbers of reinforcements during the day.

    The 8th Machine Gun Squadron helped to keep the attackers at bay, and it was the extraordinary bravery of Harold Mugford that earned him the Victoria Cross. The citation states:

    "For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty when under intense shell and machine-gun fire at Monchy-le-Preux, Lance Corporal Mugford succeeded in getting his machine-gun into a forward and very exposed position. From this point he was able to deal most effectively with the enemy, who were massing for counter-attack. His No 2 was killed almost immediately, and at the same moment he himself was severely wounded. He was then ordered to a new position and told to go to the dressing-station, but continued on duty with his gun, inflicting severe loss on the enemy.

    Soon after he was again wounded, a shell breaking both his legs. He still remained with his gun, begging his comrades to leave him and take cover. Shortly afterwards this non-commissioned officer was removed to the dressing-station where he was again wounded in the arm."

    Edited by Spasm
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    Harold Mugford was not expected to survive his dreadful wounds. He was in a critical condition when he was brought back to England, and underwent six operations. Both his legs were amputated above the knee and, in addition to the wound to his arm, shrapnel was removed from his hip, tongue and jaw. Despite his injuries and suffering, he remained cheerful - indeed "quite jolly" to use his mother's words.

    HRH King George V presented Harold Mugford with the Victoria Cross at an open-air investiture in the grounds of at Buckingham Palace on 3 July 1918. This was followed, in August, by a public presentation by the Mayor of East Ham of a cheque for £300, the proceeds of a fund raised in the Borough as a token of appreciation of the honour conferred upon him.

    Harold Mugford was discharged from the Army on medical grounds and married Amy Key at All Saints' Church, Forest Gate on 23 April 1919.

    He died on 16 June 1958 at the age of 63. He was afforded the honour of a military funeral in Chelmsford Cathedral, prior to cremation at the Southend Crematorium. Mrs Mugford died in 1978. They had no children.

    The Victoria Cross awarded to Harold Mugford was bequeathed, in Amy Mugford's will, to Furness Withy & Company Ltd., his pre-war employers, who had continued to pay her husband an ill health pension up to the time of his death. The medal is on long-term loan to the Imperial War Museum where it can be seen in the Lord Ashcroft Gallery.

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    Thanks very much Gents, praise from guys like the militaria experts you all are is very much appreciated.

    I've still a long way to go before I can put on that little exhibition/sale but am at least making a dent into where I'd like to be. I think I'm getting better at it as well.

    There's still quite a lot of water bottles to do along with Tony's help in getting a stack of relic helmets for me from some of the French markets. Thanks Tony, good man.

    Here's another which could still do with the Canadian flag adding I think

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    Thank you guys

    Here's one for the stormtroopers, weeny KuK water bottle, would only hold a cup full. Just enough for a throat wet after an exciting sprint or with something a bit stronger in it

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