Another fine brave and modest gentlemen I have had the greatest pleasure to meet. We will be celebrating his and other DLI VC's at the memorial stone in the grounds of the DLI Museum, Sunday 6th November 2005. ADDRESS BY MAJOR GENERAL ROBIN BRIMS, COLONEL THE LIGHT INFANTRY AT THE MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR CAPTAIN RICHARD WALLACE ANNAND VC 2ND DLI DURHAM CATHEDRAL – 7 FEBRUARY 2005 He was nicknamed Jake after a cartoon character of the time, because whenever his platoon created a defensive position he would take off his coat, roll his sleeves up, and dig with his troops – those great miner–soldiers. On the 14th May 1940 2nd Battalion The Durham Light Infantry were in such a defensive position in Belgium. Dick’s platoon was astride a blown bridge on the banks of the River Dyle, just south of Brussels. I think it right to tell of Dick’s heroism through the words of his platoon. The men had been under attack all the previous day, hit by the lightning advance of the German army and continuous air raids from the Stuka dive-bombers. The Germans had already tried to break through but Dick’s platoon had driven them back. Shortly after dawn the enemy attacked again and at 11am, in the thick of the battle, they pushed forward a bridging party. Once again his platoon counter attacked, but soon ran out of ammunition. Dick then went forward himself over open ground with utter disregard for the fierce mortar and machinegun fire. Reaching the top of the ridge, he drove out the German bridging party with hand grenades, inflicting more than 20 casualties. Although wounded he managed to rejoin his platoon. The following evening the Germans launched another assault and Dick, armed with grenades went forward again and forced the enemy to retreat, taking heavy casualties. His platoon sergeant said later: “Mr Annand came to me at platoon headquarters and asked for a box of grenades as they could hear Jerry trying to repair the bridge. Off he went and he sure must have given them a lovely time because it wasn’t a great while before he was back for more. Just like giving an elephant strawberries. “The previous night while both sides were sending over the heavy stuff, he realised he had not received word from our right forward section which held a pillbox about 250 yards to our right front, so he decided to get out to them and see how they were fixed. He had been gone about two hours or so, and we had come to the conclusion that they had got him, when something which I found hard to recognise came crawling in. It was just Jake – that is the name by which we knew him. He looked as though he had been having an argument with a wild cat. His clothes were torn to shreds and he must have been cut and bruised all over. How he got there and back God only knows, because he had the fire of our own troops to contend with as well as Jerry. I don’t suppose he knows the meaning of the word fear. He never asked a man to do anything he could do himself. I can quite understand he wouldn’t talk much about it. He isn’t that kind. It was just another job of work to him.” As Dick led the survivors of his platoon away from the bridge in the early hours of May 16, he discovered that his batman, Private Joseph Hunter, from Sunderland, had been wounded in the head and legs and unable to walk was left behind. Despite his own wounds sustained in the previous days’ fighting, he returned again, found a wheelbarrow, lifted Hunter into it and wheeled him to the rear until their way was barred by a fallen tree. Now without the strength to lift he left Hunter in an empty trench and set out to find help. He collapsed from exhaustion and loss of blood shortly after finding his company HQ position abandoned. Hunter was captured by the advancing Germans and sent to a Dutch hospital, but died of his wounds a month later. What an astonishing story. No account such as this can be accurate in every detail. When awarded the VC there was an inference that Dick had saved poor Private Hunter. Typically, Dick said to his Commanding Officer that as this was not so, the VC must be returned. That would have been a real injustice. To my mind Dick had won more than one VC in those days of May 1940.