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  • Christina Drummond

Lieutenant Alec George Horwood, VC, DCM, 6th Battalion, the Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey)

Remembering the Fallen: On this day in 1944, Lieutenant Alec George Horwood, VC, DCM, 6th Battalion, the Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey), attached to 1st Battalion, the Northamptonshire Regiment, was killed in action at Kyauchaw in Burma.

He had joined the Queen’s Royal Regiment at Bermondsey in early April of 1939, and had achieved the rank of sergeant a year later. Captured during the evacuation from Dunkirk, he later escaped and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. In December of 1940 he received his commission and was attached to 1st Battalion, the Northamptonshire Regiment, with whom he was posted to Burma.

Lieutenant Horwood was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on and before the day of his death. He had accompanied the forward company of the Northamptonshire Regiment into action against the Japanese, and spent the day of the 18th of January in 1944 lying in an exposed position, under intense sniper and machine-gun fire, in an area cleared by air bombing and mortars, while the company located the Japanese bunkers and machine-gun nests. Part of his lengthy citation reads: “On 19th January, he established an observation post on a precipitous ridge…while under continual fire from the enemy, he directed mortar fire in support of two attacks…He also carried out a reconnaissance along the bare ridge, deliberately drawing enemy fire so that the company which he had led might see the enemy positions. Lieutenant Horwood remained on the ridge during the night and on the morning shot the mortars again to support a fresh attack from rear of the enemy. He volunteered to lead the attack that afternoon. He led with such calm resolute bravery that the enemy were reached…while directing and leading the men with complete disregard to the enemy fire which was then at point blank range, he was mortally wounded. By his fine example of leadership when continually under fire, by his personal example to others of reconnoitering, guiding and bringing up ammunition in addition to his duties at the mortar observation post, all of which were carried out under great physical difficulties and in exposed positions, this officer set the highest example of bravery and devotion to duty which all ranks responded to magnificently. The cool, calculated actions of this officer, coupled with his magnificent bearing and bravery which culminated in his death on the enemy wire, very largely contributed to the ultimate success of the operation which resulted in the capture of the position on the 24th January.”

Lieutenant Horwood’s body was not recovered after the action, and he is commemorated on the Rangoon Memorial in the Yangon Region, Myanmar.

Alec, from Yeovil, was 30 years old and married.

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