2722614 Edward Colquhoun CHARLTON, VC, 2 Irish Guards

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    Please note that there is no recommendation filed at The National Archives, Kew.

    From THE LONDON GAZETTE of Tuesday, the 30th of April, 1946
    THURSDAY, 2 MAY, 1946

    War Office, 2nd May, 1946.

    The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the VICTORIA CROSS to: -

    No. 2722614 Guardsman Edward Colquhoun CHARLTON, Irish Guards.

    In Germany on the morning of 21st April, 1945, Guardsman Charlton was co-driver in one tank of a troop which, with a platoon of infantry, seized the village of Wistedt. Shortly afterwards, the enemy attacked this position under cover of an artillery concentration and in great strength, comprising, as it later transpired, a battalion of the 15 Panzer Grenadiers supported by six self-propelled guns. All the tanks, including Guardsman Charlton’s, were hit; the infantry were hard pressed and in danger of being over-run.

    Whereupon, entirely on his own initiative, Guardsman Charlton decided to counter-attack the enemy. Quickly recovering the Browning from his damaged tank, he advanced up the road in full view of the enemy, firing the Browning from his hip. Such was the boldness of his attack that he halted the leading enemy company, inflicting heavy casualties on them. This effort at the same time brought much needed relief to our own infantry.

    For ten minutes Guardsman Charlton fired in this manner, until wounded in the left arm. Immediately, despite intense enemy fire, he mounted his machine gun on a nearby fence, which he used to support his wounded left arm. He stood firing thus for a further ten minutes until he was again hit in the left arm which fell away shattered and useless.

    Although twice wounded and suffering from loss of blood, Guardsman Charlton again lifted his machine gun on to the fence, now having only one arm with which to fire and reload. Nevertheless, he still continued to inflict casualties on the enemy, until finally, he was hit for the third time and collapsed. He died later of his wounds in enemy hands. The heroism and determination of this Guardsman in his self-imposed task were beyond all praise. Even his German captors were amazed at his valour.

    Guardsman Charlton’s courageous and self-sacrificing action not only inflicted extremely heavy casualties on the enemy and retrieved his comrades from a desperate situation, but also enabled the position to be speedily recaptured.


    From The History of the Irish Guards in the Second World War, FitzGerald; pages 574-5:
    No. 1 Squadron and No. 3 Company moved into Elsdorf and sent a troop and a platoon to occupy Wistedt, two kilometres to the west. They passed a pleasant evening shooting at transport flushed from Rotenburg by the 32nd Brigade, but the night was disturbed by the sound of troop movements closing in on them. The 15th Panzer Grenadier Division, was retiring from Bremen.

    The morning of the 21st April began with heavy rain. At first light the troop of tanks in Wistedt moved out of the centre of the little village to cover the roads leading into it. In front of the village rose a small hill, thick with trees and silent in the rain.

    Daylight came, the sections “stood down” and began to think seriously of breakfast. Out of the wood rolled two self-propelled guns; their first shots hit the tank posted as a sentry on the road. Behind the self-propelled guns came a company of infantry. The tank went on fire as soon as it was hit, and the crew baled out. Guardsman E. Charlton, the driver, stopped to look at the German infantry running down the road. He climbed on to the burning tank, unhooked the Browning machine gun from the turret and jumped back into the road to meet the Germans. He faced them four-square, firing steadily. A bullet struck his left arm; he moved to a gate in the hedge and supported his arm on the top bar, still firing. His left arm was hit again, and he propped the Browning on the gate, firing and loading it with one hand. A final burst of fire shattered his right arm, and Charlton collapsed by the gate, the Browning on top of him.

    The Germans swept over him, but Charlton had ruined for them the effect of their sudden attack; the platoon and the other tanks had recovered themselves. The Germans carried Charlton away, but he was already dying, and there was nothing they could do for him except bury him with the honour he deserved.

    A German officer who took part in the attack was later sent from a prison camp to the 2nd Battalion to show them Charlton’s grave, as he had talked so much about the bravery of an Irish Guardsman.


    From a tribute by Jimmy Mendes, DCM in John Bull, 1946 (extract courtesy of ATB )
    After the Battle - Online Store
    The citation just says he recovered the Browning from his damaged tank. That alone was something. Not only was he in full view of the enemy and in the line of their sights, but his Sherman was brewing up. Anybody who knows Shermans will tell you they have nasty habits when they’re hit. They burst into flames and the ammo starts popping. It’s uncomfortable to be near one, much less on it; the citation just says he recovered the Browning.

    The story might never have been told, had he not made it possible for some of his comrades to come back alive and report it. In Ed’s case there were not only his pals, but the enemy too, who saw to it that he will never be forgotten. Ed died in a German field hospital, and captured Germans told interrogating officers the amazing story of a man who stood in front of three blazing Shermans and held up a battalion of Panzer Grenadiers.


    From Cheshire, Greater Manchester, and Merseyside Counties Publications (England) - Wednesday, June 28, 2000:
    Council honours war hero
    A PLAQUE in memory of Trafford's greatest war hero is being unveiled at Trafford Town Hall tomorrow (Friday).

    The plaque has been installed to commemorate Edward Charlton VC, who was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously after being killed in battle in 1945.

    Edward, who lived in Firswood, charged a German tank unit, firing at them even when he was hit several times. His unit, the Irish Guards , had seized the village of Wistedt, when his troop was attacked by the 15th Panzer Grenadiers.

    Edward was driving a tank that were hit by the enemy. He leapt into action, launching a counter-attack with his machine gun.

    His citation said: "He advanced up the road in full view of the enemy, firing the Browning from his hip.

    "Such was the boldness of his attack and the intensity of his fire that he halted the leading enemy company, inflicting heavy casualties on them. This effort at the same time brought much needed relief to our own infantry."

    He kept shooting for 10 minutes, until he was shot in the left arm. He then mounted his machine gun on a fence and kept firing until he was hit again in the left arm, which fell away shattered and useless. He continued to fire with one arm, until he was hit for a third time and collapsed.

    The citation said: "The heroism and determination of this Guardsman in his self-imposed task were beyond all praise."

    Brigadier O'Cock OBE, MC, Edward Charlton VC's company commander, will unveil the plaque.


    Guardsman Charlton’s VC can be viewed along with others awarded to members of the Guards’ Regiments, at the Guards Museum, Wellington Barracks.

    :poppy:
    Guardsman EDWARD COLQUHOUN CHARLTON V.C., 2722614, 2nd Bn., Irish Guards who died age 24 on 21 April 1945
    Son of Albert and Edith Wilcox Charlton, of Old Trafford, Manchester.
    Remembered with honour BECKLINGEN WAR CEMETERY
    Grave/Memorial Reference: 7. F. 13.
    becklingen war cemetery, germany

    See also
    BBC - WW2 People's War - My Brother, the Last VC of the European Campaign
     

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