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Bravery recognised: celebrating King's Victoria Cross recipients

During the First World War, King's tragically lost 239 staff and students. But two former students, who did survive the war, demonstrated incredible heroism, and were awarded the Victoria Cross - the highest and most prestigious award for the British armed forces, conferred for gallantry ‘in the face of the enemy’.

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Captain Archie White

A former President of King’s Student Union, having studied English Literature, Cpt. White won the Victoria Cross ‘for most conspicuous bravery at Stuff Redoubt’, in the autumn of 1916.

According to records, he demonstrated his heroism when, ‘for four days and nights by indomitable spirit, great personal courage and skillful dispositions, he held his position under fire of all kinds and against several counter-attacks’.

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The Reverend Noel Mellish

Having studied Theology at King’s, Rev. Mellish was the first chaplain to win the Victoria Cross during the War.

The citation described how, ‘on three consecutive days of heavy fighting near Ypres in March 1916 he went to-and fro continuously between the trenches, attending to and rescuing at least 22 wounded men from an area that was swept by machine-gun fire.’ This was, as the citation points out, ‘far outside the sphere of his normal duties’.

Further Resources

The King’s War Memorials website celebrates the lives of more than 700 students and staff and its partner institutions who were killed in the First and Second World Wars, and other twentieth-century conflicts. Detailed biographies serve as a permanent reminder of the selfless service to society enshrined in King’s public ethos and the personal sacrifices of its students and staff.

King’s Archives is a unique and world-renowned resource for the history of medicine, science, technology, warfare, Victorian London and much more – and it’s open to all.

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