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Bulwell soldier who won Victoria Cross during First World War attack

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A brave soldier from Bulwell was awarded the Victoria Cross after aking part in a First World War battle which was a disaster for the British Army.

Corporal James Upton was serving in the 1st Battalion, Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) during the Battle of Aubers Ridge, on the Western Front, on 9th May, 1915.

Whilst in action the heroic Cpl Upton rescued wounded soldiers while exposed to enemy rifle and artillery fire.

One wounded man was killed by a shell while Cpl Upton was carrying him on his back.

A Bestwood Colliery miner who became a regular soldier, Cpl Upton visited Hucknall soon after for a recruitment drive on the Market Place.

At Aubers Ridge, the British were taking part in a combined offensive with the French.

But the British bombardment was wholly insufficient to break the German defences, which had been newly strengthened. No ground was won or any tactical advantage gained, and 11,000 British soldiers were killed or wounded.

Combined with the failure of the Gallipoli campaign, it meant the downfall of the Liberal Government and a Coalition was formed with Conservative and, for the first time, Labour MPs in a Tory-dominated Cabinet.

The Times newspaper published a comment by Sir John French, commander of the British Expeditionary Force, that the Government had ‘not given us enough ammunition’.

This caused an absolute storm because it was deemed unpatriotic, which caused The Times and its sister paper, the Daily Mail, to be banned from Hucknall Library.

In an astute summing-up of the situation, Dispatch editor Henry Morley wrote: “It is a mistake to blame the alarm clock for waking us up, nor can unpleasant truths be disposed of by the ways adopted in some quarters.”

 

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