Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1915, Private Abraham Acton V.C., 2nd Battalion, the Border Regiment, was killed in action during the Battle of Festubert in France.
One of thirteen children of a fisherman who had served with the Royal Engineers, Private Acton was educated at Crosthwaite Memorial School in Whitehaven, and then worked as a general labourer. He also was a member of the Orange Lodge and the first Orangeman to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the Great War.
Private Acton enlisted early in 1914, and went to France at the end of November that year. In less than a month his actions would earn him the award of the Victoria Cross. Three days before Christmas, at Rouges-Bancs, he left his trench to rescue a wounded man who had been lying in the open for three days. Later that day he again braved heavy fire to bring in another wounded man. He was Mentioned in Despatches twice, and Sir John French presented him with his Victoria Cross ribbon. Sadly he did not live to receive his Victoria Cross formally, as he was killed in action during the Battle of Festubert. Private Acton’s parents went to Buckingham Palace in November of 1916 to receive their son’s award.
Private Acton’s body was not recovered so he has no known grave, and he is commemorated on the Le Touret memorial at Richebourg l’Avoue. He is also remembered on memorials at Crosthwaite Memorial School and Whitehaven Holy Trinity Church, as well as a birthplace plaque, and the Whitehaven borough roll of honour.
Abraham, from Whitehaven, Cumbria, was 21 years old and engaged to be married.