Harold Marcus ERVINE-ANDREWS. VC, MiD, 1 East Lancashire Regiment

Discussion in '1940' started by dbf, May 15, 2009.

  1. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Major Harold Marcus Ervine-Andrews, East Lancashire Regiment, was awarded the Victoria Cross in July, 1940, one of the first two Army V.C.s of the present war.

    On the night of May 31st, 1940, Major Ervine-Andrews and his company held their position along the Canal de Bergues in front of Dunkirk for over ten hours, in the face of intense artillery, mortar and machine-gun fire, and vastly superior enemy forces. He called for volunteers to fill a gap on his flank, and, going forward, engaged the enemy from the top of a straw-roofed barn with rifle and light automatic fire. He personally accounted for seventeen of the enemy with his rifle, and for many more with a Bren gun. When all his ammunition was expended he sent back the wounded, brought all that remained of the company safely back and again took up position. Throughout this action Major Ervine-Andrews displayed courage, tenacity and devotion to duty worthy of the highest traditions of the British Army, and his magnificent example imbued his own troops with the dauntless fighting spirit which he himself displayed.

    Major Ervine-Andrews was born in County Wexford in 1911, and served on the North-West Frontier of India in 1936-7. He was Mentioned in Despatches and holds the medal with clasp for that campaign.


    Medal listing of Ervine-Andrews, Harold Marcus
    Rank: Lieutenant Acting Captain
    Regiment: East Lancashire Regiment
    Date of Act Of Bravery: 31 May-01 June 1940
    Campaign: 1939-1945 War
    Locale: Canal de Bergues, Dunkirk
    Date 1900 Feb 02 - 1944 Sep 01
    Catalogue reference WO 98/8

    See this thread for ref:
    Last edited: May 27, 2020
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Just been doing a bit of research on this chap as I've been to where he won his VC.

    Sadly he was the last surviving Irish recipient of the VC and he attempted to return home to Co. Cavan after the war, but was driven out by local members of the IRA and later settled in Cornwall.
    Harold Marcus Ervine-Andrews - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    He's VC story is quite remarkable and unfortunately his citation doesn't do him justice.

  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Another image.
    Unknown Artist's Charcoal dated 1943 showing Captain H.M Ervine Andrews on the roof of the barn. from National Archives.

    And a Regimental Painting.
    Ervine-Andrews is seen on the upper platform taking a magazine for his Bren gun.

  4. Mark Hone

    Mark Hone Senior Member

    I visited the approximate site of his VC action on my 2000 school battlefields tour. Unfortunately I found it dificult to pinpoint the exact location of the barn on the ground but hope, with the aid of GPS etc, to manage a better job in 2010! Perhaps another contributor might help with the precise location.
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I went to this location on a battlefield tour a few years ago (the guide was crap though so he probably just picked a random canal as we were driving along) but for the life of me I haven't a clue where it was although I do remember we crossed a lock to get to what must have been the north side of the canal where the barn was.

    Does anyone know the precise location as I wouldn't mind visiting it next month.

  6. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Am presuming he was 1st Bn?

    Map from the Official History.

  7. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Modern comparison.

    dbf likes this.

    CROONAERT Ipsissimus

    Does anyone know the precise location as I wouldn't mind visiting it next month.

    Nicking Pauls's map for the mo', ...it was in the vicinity of the green blob (overlooking Pont Bentis-Meulen)


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  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Many thanks all. Can you confirm if the enemy was advancing along the red arrow towards the Canal and 1 East Lancs ?

  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive


    Some shots from where Major Ervine-Andrews earned his VC.

    These three shots were taken looking East toward Pont a Moutons from the D4 road that runs parallel with the broken red line near the green dot.

    I wonder if this was part of the barn he was holding off the Germans in?



    Paul Reed likes this.
  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Looking South from the field above towards Le Benkies Mille. The D4 is to the right and the canal is about 20 meters to my front.


  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Looking West from the D3 towards the junction with the D4 and the Canal Bridge Major Ervine-Andrews and his men were defending. The barn was to the right of this shot.

  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Looking North from South of the Canal on the D3 Road towards the barns most likely location.


  14. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    Hello Andy, thanks for directing me to this thread. I found it interesting to sort out the camera angles and practice my image manipulating skills. See below thumbnails of your original pics color coded to the satellite image and camera angles.

    Not certain of the green framed pic (south east). Kind of guess.

    It seems to me that the small canal would be the right flank limit of the East Lancs. That would leave the cluster of buildings (le Benkies Mille) in the adjacent units zone and not divided between the two. So if the barn you are looking for was not just east of the small canal, I would investigate buildings as far east as Pont a Moutons. On the other hand, it might be possible the East Lancs got sucked into a fight for Benkies Mille across the small canal.



    Paul Reed and von Poop like this.
  15. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    A wonderful story of heroism and inspiration to all around.

    A good thread to read.

  16. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Nice thread, cheers, I'd missed it .
  17. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    Closer satellite image below.

    Slightly different write-up than above:

    " LG 26th July 1940Lieutenant (acting Captain) (now Captain) Harold Marcus ERVINE-ANDREWS, The East Lancashire Regiment.
    For most conspicuous gallantry on active service on the night of the 31st May/1st June, 1940. Captain Ervine-Andrews took over about a thousand yards of the defences in front of Dunkirk, his line extending along the Canal de Bergues, and the enemy attacked at dawn. For over ten hours, notwithstanding intense artillery, mortar, and machine-gun fire, and in the face of vastly superior enemy forces, Captain Ervine-Andrews and his company held their
    The enemy, however, succeeded in crossing the canal on both flanks; and, owing to superior enemy forces, a company of Captain Ervine-Andrews' own battalion, which was despatched to protect his flanks, was unable to gain contact with him. There being danger of one of his platoons being driven in, he called for volunteers to fill the gap, and then, going forward, climbed on to the top of a straw-roofed barn, from which he engaged the enemy with rifle and light automatic fire, though, at the time, the enemy were sending mortar-bombs and armour-piercing bullets through the roof.
    Captain Ervine-Andrews personally accounted for seventeen of the enemy with his rifle, and for many more with a Bren gun. Later, when the house which he held had been shattered by enemy fire and set alight, and all his ammunition had been expended, he sent back his wounded in the remaining carrier. Captain Ervine-Andrews then collected the remaining eight men of his company from this forward position, and, when almost completely surrounded, led them back to the cover afforded by the company in the rear, swimming or wading up to the chin in water for over a mile; having brought all that remained of 'his company safely back, he once again took up position.
    Throughout this action, Captain Ervine-Andrews displayed courage, tenacity, and devotion to duty, worthy of the highest traditions of the British Army, and his magnificent example imbued his own troops with the dauntless fighting spirit which he himself displayed."

  18. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Good effort on the angles if memory serves me well you are pretty spot on although the Yellow and Green were taken from the same place :)
  19. Earthican

    Earthican Senior Member

    Now that you mention it, Yellow should probably be near Green. I started with Yellow and was convinced it was right. When I studied Green I could not see any other location for it so assumed they were not from the same location.

    Could use some background info for this one. I believe the East Lancs were part of the 126 Inf Bde of the 42 Div(?).

    CROONAERT Ipsissimus

    Just the other month I was talking to a guy who served under Ervine-Andrews...completely irrelevant but, apparantly they also had a large supply of French F1 grenades that they'd aquired from somewhere. (He still had one in his pocket (his only armament) when he arrived back in the UK).


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