Great War Battle of the Menin Road 1917 Military Cross and Hindenburg Line 28th August 1917

London Medal Company Great War Battle of the Menin.

The superb Great War Battle of the Menin Road 1917 Military Cross and Hindenburg Line 28th August 1917 Second Award Bar and Second World War group awarded to Captain F.E. Whitby, 16th Count of London Battalion, London Regiment - the Queen's Westminster Rifles attached 19th County of London Battalion, London Regiment - the Saint Pancras Rifles, late 1/1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment, and later Cameronians, who served in France from November 1914, being five time wounded in action.    

Group of 9: Military Cross, GRI cypher, reverse engraved: 'CAPT F.E. WHITBY.', with Second Award Bar; 1914 Star with Clasp; (2591 PTE F.E. WHITBY. 1/1 HERTS:R.); British War Medal and Victory Medal; (CAPT. F.E. WHITBY); 1939-1945 Star; Atlantic Star; Italy Star; Defence Medal; War Medal. Court mounted for display.

Condition: Good Very Fine.

Together with original newspaper cutting concerning the award of his Second Award Bar to the Military Cross, which includes a picture of him in uniform.     

Frank Edward Whitby was born in 1892, and lived in Harpenden and later Saint Alban's, and Luton and Ware, Hertfordshire. Whitby joined the Territorial Force in 1913, seeing service as a Private (No.2591) with the 1/1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment, and with the outbreak of the Great War was mobilised on 1st September 1914 seeing service with 'B' Company in France from 6th November 1914, where his Battalion formed part of the 4th Guards Brigade, fighting alongside the Grenadier, Coldstream, and Irish Guards, the Battalion distinguished itself so well at Ypres that it went on to be nicknamed the "Herts Guards" being called as such in Kipling's History of the Irish Guards.

Whitby would have been immediately in action and on the evening of the 14th November 1914 the Battalion relieved the 2nd Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in the trenches between Polygon Wood and Nonne Bosschen Wood. The Battalion then moved to Bethune, and relieved Indian troops near Le Touquet on the 24th December. In the summer of 1915 the 1/1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment was considered a veteran battalion which was as such then transferred to the 6th Brigade of the 2nd Division to bolster the new battalions of the New Army, and then transferred into the 118th Brigade of the 39th Division, after which he would have been present at Festubert. Whitby went on to see service during the battle of Loos, and on the Somme. Being promoted to Sergeant, he was wounded no less than four times when serving with the 1/1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment.

Whitby was posted home to England in October 1916 after his fourth wounding, and then went for for Officer Cadet training at Newmarket, being eventually commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 1st March 1917, he then joined the 16th Count of London Battalion, London Regiment - the Queen's Westminster Rifles, and returned to France on 2nd May 1917 being attached to the 19th County of London Battalion, London Regiment - the Saint Pancras Rifles.

Within six months of his returning to France as an officer, Whitby had gone on to be twice decorated with the Military Cross, the first award being published in the London Gazette on 16th August 1917 with the citation stating: 'During an action he personally reconnoitred and established posts in front of the line, continually moving up and down the line of shell holes under heavy fire. Throughout the operation he displayed the utmost skill and courage, and by his personal example instilled confidence into all ranks." He performed these deeds during the battle of the Menin Road.

Whitby was promoted to Acting Captain, gazetted 18th August 1917, and appointed a Company Commander immediately the Battalion came out the action where he won his first Military Cross, and it was during the fighting for the Hindenburg Line round Croiselles and Bullecourt that he performed the actions which won him his second Military Cross, the citation being published in the London Gazette for 18th October 1917 and reading as follows: 'When the division on the flank was heavily counter-attacked and driven back, Captain Whitby, who was senior company commander in the front line, with great initiative and skill threw all the details he could collect into a dangerous gap that was formed in the front line, and moved up a support platoon to fill the interval. The next day he led his men forward in an attack in spite of a severe wound in his neck exposing himself with great gallantry to an intense machine gun fire in the execution of his duties. He set a splendid example to all his officers and men.' This action occurred on the 28th August 1917 when Whitby was wounded for the fifth time in action.

Whitby recovered from his wound, and then returned to the London Regiment and on 8th May 1918 was gazetted to the rank of Captain, this being confirmed on 13th November 1918, and again on 24th April 1919, he being shown as 'Commanding a company'. Whitby relinquished his commission from the British Army on 14th June 1919, having spent the entire war on the Western Front, being in action from near the beginning to the very end. Having been five times wounded, he was very lucky to be alive.

Whitby went on to live in Glasgow, where he became a member of the Army Officer's Emergency Reserve and as a result, on the outbreak of the Second World War, when aged fifty one, Whitby was recalled to service, this time as an Acting Major with the Cameronians. His Second World War service was in complete contrast to his First World War service, and on 15th June 1943 he was appointed to "Ships Staff - Sea Going Duties", and in this capacity he served on various troop ships crossing the Atlantic and going to the Mediterranean. Thus he qualified for the Atlantic Star and the Italy Star, and finished his sea service on VE Day - 8th May 1945, and was demobilised for the second time from the Army on the 18th June 1947. Whitby continued to serve in a Reserve Appoontment for another seven years and finally relinquished his commission on the 15th March 1954, being granted the Honorary rank of Captain.

13 June 2017