Billy Congreve

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William La Touche Congreve
William Congreve VC.jpg
Nickname(s) Billy
Born 12 March 1891
Burton, Cheshire, England
Died 20 July 1916
Longueval, France
Buried at Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Rank Major
Unit Rifle Brigade
Battles/wars World War I 
Awards Victoria Cross
Distinguished Service Order
Military Cross
Légion d'honneur (France)
Relations General Sir Walter Norris Congreve VC (father)

Major William "Billy" La Touche Congreve VC, DSO, MC (12 March 1891 – 20 July 1916) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Life and career[edit]

He was at school at Summer Fields School, Oxford and then at Eton, leaving in 1907.[1] On 1 June 1916 he married Pamela Cynthia Maude, the daughter of actors Cyril Maude and Winifred Emery.[2]

Congreve was 25 years old, and a Major in The Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own), British Army during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

During the period 6 July to 20 July 1916 at Longueval, France, Major Congreve constantly inspired those round him by numerous acts of gallantry. As Brigade Major he not only conducted battalions up to their positions but when the Brigade headquarters was heavily shelled he went out with the medical officer to remove the wounded to places of safety, although he himself was suffering from gas and other shell effects. He went out again on a subsequent occasion tending the wounded under heavy shell fire. Finally, on returning to the front line to ascertain the position after an unsuccessful attack, he was shot and died instantly.

He was the son of General Sir Walter Norris Congreve, also a Victoria Cross awardee - they are one of only three father and son pairings to win a VC. His younger brother, Geoffrey, first of the Congreve baronets of Congreve, Staffordshire, was a distinguished sailor, awarded the DSO for a raid on Norway and killed in 1941 during a raid on the French coast.

His widow bore a posthumous daughter, Mary Gloria Congreve, born 21 March 1917.[3] Pamela Congreve later remarried, to Brigadier the Hon. William Fraser, in 1919.

Memorials[edit]

William Congreve's grave is at Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension, France, 9 miles east of Amiens, Plot I, Row F, Grave 35. There is also a memorial to him in the form of a plaque in Corbie church, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.[4]

Lutyens designed another plaque to his memory which is at St John the Baptist's church in Stowe-by-Chartley, Staffordshire.[5]

Congreve's service in the First World War is also recalled, along with that of his father, in a Roll of Honour book in St Michael's Church, West Felton, Shropshire, the latter village having been his childhood home when his father lived at West Felton Grange from 1903 to 1924. His VC is recorded in the same village on the community building called the Haslehurst Institute, land for building which had been given by his father.[6]

Major Congreve's grave

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Green Jackets Museum, Winchester, England.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Eton College - Rolls of Honour
  2. ^ Congreve at The Peerage.com, accessed 8 June 2011
  3. ^ Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage 1940 edn: Congreve
  4. ^ CWGC entry
  5. ^ Francis, Peter (2013). Shropshire War Memorials, Sites of Remembrance. YouCaxton Publications. p. 168. ISBN 978-1-909644-11-3. 
  6. ^ Shropshire War Memorials, Sites of Remembrance. p. 165. 

External links[edit]