The First VC of the European War, 1914. Captain Francis Grenfell, 9th Lancers at Audregnies, 24 August 1914
Oil on canvas by Richard Caton Woodville (1856-1927), 1914.
Captain Francis Grenfell led the 9th (Queen's Royal) Lancers in the action at Audregnies, on 24 August 1914 during the Battle of Mons, against a large body of German infantry who were advancing to encircle the 5th Division. This action was later compared to the Charge of the Light Brigade since it demonstrated great bravery but accomplished little. Later in the day Grenfell and his men helped to drag away British guns which were in danger of being captured. In this painting, the artist appears to have combined the two events.
Although not the first action of World War One (1914-1918) for which the Victoria Cross was awarded, Grenfell was the first to be gazetted, that is, officially listed in 'The London Gazette' as a recipient. The citation was for 'gallantry in action against unbroken infantry at Audregnies and for gallant conduct in assisting to save the guns of the 119th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, near Doubon the same day'. Grenfell was killed in action at Hooghe near Ypres on 24 May 1915. The first VC to be won in the war was by Lieutenant M J Dease, Royal Fusiliers, on 23 August 1914.
NAM Accession Number
National Army Museum, Out of Copyright
National Army Museum, Study collection
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