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  • Christina Drummond

Captain George Henry Tatham Paton VC MC, Grenadier Guards

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Captain George Henry Tatham Paton VC MC, Grenadier Guards, was killed at Gonnelieu in France. From September, 1912, to March, 1914, he had been a Cadet Officer in the British Army Junior Division, Officers' Training Corps, Clifton College Engineer Contingent. He joined the army at the start of the Great War and served as Second Lieutenant in the London Regiment, 17th Battalion (Poplar and Stepney). Frustrated at the lack of prospects with little chance of getting to France, he transferred to the Grenadier Guards in 1916, and was awarded the Military Cross in August, 1917. On the day of his death, he exhibited extraordinary bravery for which he was awarded the posthumous Victoria Cross. From the London Gazette of 12th February, 1918: "For most conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice. When a unit on his left was driven back, leaving his flank in the air and his company practically surrounded, he fearlessly exposed himself to re-adjust the line, walking up and down within fifty yards of the enemy under a withering fire. He personally removed several wounded men, and was the last to leave the village. Later, he again re-adjusted the line, exposing himself regardless of all danger the whole time, and when the enemy four times counter-attacked he sprang each time upon the parapet, deliberately risking his life in order to stimulate his command. After the enemy had broken through on his left, he forced them once more to withdraw, thereby undoubtedly saving the left flank." He was mortally wounded after the fourth counter-attack by the enemy. Captain Paton was the first Grenadier Guards officer to win the VC since the Crimean War, and is buried in Metz-en-Couture Communal Cemetery, his Victoria Cross displayed at the Guards Regimental Headquarters at Wellington Barracks. A fellow student from college wrote to a friend in surprise and admiration on hearing of Captain Paton’s death, for he remembered him as being “a bit of a dandy with a gay sense of humour, taking nothing seriously.” George, from Innellan in Argyllshire, was 22 years old.

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