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William Thomas Forshaw VC (of Barrow-in-Furness) & S M Lee-Heppel

WM reference
Memorial type
  • Unveiled : 07 August 2005
Current location

private residence
Gays Lane
Windsor And Maidenhead
OS Grid Ref.: SU 89632 77614
Denomination: Undefined


Plaque with 2 crests in left and right hand top corners followed by inscription


Lt./Major/ William Thomas Forshaw V.C./ Gallipoli 7th 8th 9th August 1915/ The Vineyard/ Sadie Mollie Lee-Heppel/ His wife/ Hospital Ship Goorkha/ Lived here

Inscription legible?


Names on memorial

Forshaw, William Thomas
Lee-heppel, Sadie Mollie
See details


First World War (1914-1918)
Total names on memorial: 2
Served and returned: 2
Died: 0
Exact count: yes
Information shown: surname,rank,regiment,forename,relationships,decorations
Order of information: Undefined


VC or GC Recipients
Total names on memorial: 1
Served and returned: 1
Died: 0
Exact count: yes
Information shown: surname,rank,regiment,forename,relationships,decorations
Order of information: Undefined


Condition: Unknown
Measurements: Undefined
Materials: Undefined
Listed?: No


Date: 07 August 2005
Attended by: Local Clergy/Dignitaries


Site: Unknown or N/A
Memorial: Unknown or N/A
Comments: None

Trust fund/Scholarship

Purpose: Unknown or N/A


Unknown or N/A
Details: Unknown or N/A

Responsibility of

Unknown or N/A


William married Sadie Mollie Lee-Heppel on the 5th February 1916 in Barnet Registry Office, in North London. She was a nurse at a Military Hospital in Caterham, Surrey, where William had occasionally been treated. William lived on Nether Street in North Finchley, London at this time. We don't know where the couple made their home. (From William Thomas Forshaw's Manchester Regiment website) He joined the Home Guard in WW2 and died at his home in Holyport on 26th May 1943 and is buried at Touchen End, Berks. Sadie was a trained nurse.. About William Thomas Forshaw William Thomas Forshaw was born April 20th, 1890 in Barrow-in-Furness, England (then in Lancashire, now in Cumbria). After beginning a career of teaching in Ashton-under-Lyme, Lancashire, he joined the 9th battalion, Manchester Regiment at the outbreak of the First World War. He soon found himself in Egypt for training (and site of his successes on the running track) and thence to Gallipoli – the peninsula of land on the west side of the strategically important Dardanelles in Turkey. As a 2nd Lieutenant and Acting Captain, he won the Victoria Cross for gallantry in defending the "Vineyard" from August 7th to 9th, 1915. The Victoria Cross is the highest award which can be bestowed in the British military forces. It has only been awarded 1354 times since 1854! The account of the actual battle is quite amazing. The fact that he lit the many bombs which he threw with a cigarette earned him the nickname in the press at the time "The Cigarette VC". There is a brief description here. Forshaw ended up as a Major and survived the war, returning home to a career in photography (teaching jobs, like all jobs, were then hard to come by for returning soldiers). He died in Holyport on May 26th, 1943. He left no children, only nieces and nephews. Memorials include a street (and car park) named after him in his home town of Barrow. Unfortunately these were lost (!) a few years ago. After a nine-year search for his grave, a new headstone was erected and dedicated 17th October 1994 at Touchen End Cemetery, Bray, Berkshire. His medal is on display at the Museum of the Manchester, Ashton-under-Lyme, Lancashire. _________________________________________________________________________ London Gazette, 9 September 1915 The Vinyard, Gallipoli, 7 - 9 August 1915, Lieutenant William Thomas Forshaw, 9th Bn, Manchester Regiment. During the period 7/9 August 1915 at Gallipoli, when holding the north-west corner of the "Vineyard" against heavy attacks by the Turks, Lieutenant Forshaw not only directed his men but personally threw bombs continuously for over 40 hours. When his detachment was relieved, he volunteered to continue directing the defence. Later, when the Turks captured a portion of the trench, he shot three of them and recaptured it. It was due to his fine example and magnificant courage that his very important position was held. William Forshaw survived WWI and was living in Holyport, Berkshire when he died at the comparatively young age of 53 on 26 March 1943 and was buried in Touchen End Cemetery, Bray, near Maidenhead, in a grave that was not marked with a headstone. It was thought that William Forshaw had been buried in Ashton-under-Lyne and many publications reflected this. But the Victoria Cross historian, Tom Medcraft, was convinced he was not buried in Ashton and after a nine year search, discovered Forshaw was in fact buried in Touchen End. This discovery was made through the efforts of Mrs Pat Curtis, Senior Librarian at Maidenhead Library, who found the undertaker, Pymm's of Maidenhead, who had buried William Forshaw and whose records showed he was buried in Touchen End Cemetery. However, the undertaker's records did not show the exact location of the grave as their original records had been lost when they moved premises some forty years earlier. Further research by Tom Medcraft and Pat Curtis revealed that the churchyard seemed to be laid out in 'date order' for the years during which William Forshaw had been buried and his grave was one of five in an area of the cemetery which was seriously overgrown. As a result of the grave being located and the area cleared, a ceremony was held in Touchen End Cemetery on Monday, 17th October 1994 to erect and dedicate a headstone to Lieutenant William Forshaw VC, by members of the 1st Bn. The King's Regiment (Manchester & Liverpool) - which was formed from his own Manchester Regiment - who erected the memorial stone. Also present were Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Hodges, Commanding Officer of the 1st Bn. The King's Regiment (Manchester & Liverpool), Brigadier Geremy Gaskell, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Bray, and the Vicar of Bray, who carried out the service. The Victoria Cross of William Forshaw resides at the "The Museum of the Manchester's" Ashton-under-Lyne Town Hall, Manchester, together with his other medals. Also on display is a sword presented to him by the Mayor of Barrow - his home town - when he was given the Freedom of the City in 1916, and a beautiful silver tea service which was presented to him by the Headmaster of North Manchester Grammar School in October 1915, where he had served as a teacher prior to going to war. The room in the museum which houses his medals and other presentation gifts, is called "The Forshaw Room". ______________________________________________________________________________ William Thomas Forshaw, the son of a manager at the Vickers Shipyard was born in Barrow-in Furness in 1890. At the outbreak of World War 1, he volunteered for service with the Manchester Territorial Regiment. By May 1915 he was a lieutenant serving in the Dardanelles campaign on the Gallipoli Peninsular in Turkey. He was awarded the Victoria Cross, and earned the nickname “Cigarette VC”, for his brave actions at Sulva Bay from 7 Aug to 9 Aug 1915. He apparently held off repeated attacks from the Turks by continually lobbing bombs, made from old jam and bully beef tins, into the advancing enemy ranks. The fuses of these bombs were casually lit by Lieutenant Forshaw using his lighted cigarette. Over the night of 8/9 Aug the Turks actually forced Bill and his detachment from their trench, only for Bill to lead a charge that led to it’s recapture. As the citation reads: “It was due to his personal example, magnificent courage and endurance that a very important corner of the defences were held”. He retired from the army as a Major in 1922 and lived in Ipswich where he started a couple of private “prep” schools. During the Second World War he served in the Home Guard but he died in May 1943 at his new home in Maidenhead. A blue plaque commemorating the life of William Forshaw is sited on the entrance to Ladysmith Barracks, the home of the Manchester regiment from 1845 to 1958. She appears to have been on the Hospital Ship Goorkha which was mined off Malta on 10th October 1917, but there were no casualties.


The Gallipolian 40 / Winter 2005



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