12 October 2015

Sheffield’s Lord Mayor, Deputy Lord Lieutenant Lady Neill, The High Sheriff John Holt, Master Cutler Craig McKay, and representatives from the Royal Artillery and Heeley school children laid wreaths at the Cenotaph in Barkers Pool today. The ceremony was to remember Acting Sergeant John Crawshaw Raynes VC, who was awarded this country’s highest military award, the Victoria Cross, exactly 100 years ago at Fosse 7 de Bethune.

The award citation for the Victoria Cross cites the following:
“No. 36380 Sergeant-Major J C Raynes, (Royal Field Artillery). For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. On 11 October, 1915, at Fosse 7 de Bethune, his Battery was being heavily bombarded by armour-piercing and gas shells. On ‘Cease Fire’ being ordered Sergeant-Major (then Acting Sergeant) Raynes, went out under an intense shell fire to assist Sergeant Ayres, who was lying wounded forty yards away. He bandaged him and returned to his gun, when it was again ordered into action.

A few minutes later ‘Cease Fire’ was again ordered owing to the intensity of the enemy fire, and Sergeant-Major Raynes, calling on two gunners to help him – both of whom were killed shortly afterwards – went out and carried Sergeant Ayres into a dug-out. A gas shell burst at the mouth of the dug-out, and Sergeant-Major Raynes, once more ran across the open, fetched his own smoke helmet, put it on Sergeant Ayres, and then, himself badly gassed, staggered back to serve his gun.

On 12 October, 1915, at Quality Street, a house was knocked down by a heavy shell, four men being buried in the house and four in the cellar. The first man rescued was Sergeant-Major Raynes, wounded in the head and leg, but he insisted on remaining under heavy shell fire to assist in the rescue of all the other men. Then, after having his wounds dressed, he reported himself immediately for duty with his Battery, which was again being heavily shelled.”