Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1944, Serjeant Hanson Victor Turner V.C., 1st Battalion, the West Yorkshire Regiment (The Prince of Wales’ Own), was killed in action at Ningthoukhong in the state of Manipur in north-east India.
One of a family of nine children, after leaving school he worked as a bus conductor. His father had served as a serjeant with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment during the Great War, and so he followed his father into that regiment in 1940. In 1943 Serjeant Turner was sent to the Far East.
On the night of the 6th of June in 1944 he was at Ningthoukhong (often erroneously referred to as being in Burma, even in his V.C. citation), one of the section commanders of a platoon of twenty men. They had come under attack from the Japanese, who were equipped with medium and light machine guns as well as grenades. The platoon lost three machine guns and had to give ground. The citation refers to how Serjeant Turner “with coolness and fine leadership reorganised his party and with a doggedness and spirit of endurance of the highest order repelled all attacks”. He and his men held the position through the night.
The next morning the Japanese attempted to outflank the position, but Serjeant Turner was alert to them. They had to be driven off and/or killed, but the small number of his men holding the position could not be spared to set up a counter-attack. So Serjeant Turner armed himself with as many grenades as he could carry and attacked the enemy single-handed. When he had used up those grenades he returned a further five times for more – all that time the Japanese were attacking with small arms fire and their own grenades. After the sixth time that he had gone back for more grenades, he was killed as he was in the act of throwing one at the enemy.
His Victoria Cross citation concludes with these words: “His conduct on that night will ever be remembered by the Regiment. His superb leadership and undaunted will to win in the early stages of the attack was undoubtedly instrumental in preventing the enemy plan from succeeding. The number of enemy found dead the next morning was ample evidence of the effect his grenade throwing had had. He displayed outstanding valour and had not the slightest thought of his own safety. He died on the battlefield in the spirit of supreme self-sacrifice”. Serjeant Turner lies buried in the War Cemetery in Imphal, India. On his headstone are the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Ever remembered”. From Andover in Hampshire, Hanson was 33 years old and married.