Harold Mugford VC
On 11th April 1917, during the advance from Arras, the 8th Cavalry Brigade was ordered to advance mounted, over open country to occupy high ground east and north east of Monchy-le-Preux, a key position between the Scarpe and the Sensee. The Essex Yeomanry was the leading Regiment with the 10th Hussars on its left and the Royal Horse Guards in reserve. C Squadron, the lead Squadron in the Brigade, came under heavy machine gun fire crossing a ridge and the Stortford and Dunmow Troops were almost annihilated. The survivors of C Squadron followed by the remainder of the Essex Yeomanry and the 10th Hussars rode on and occupied Monchy where they dug in. With the Commanding Officer of the 10th Hussars becoming a casualty, Lieutenant Colonel Whitmore had all the soldiers in Monchy under command. The two Regiments, held their positions in and around the town against determined German attacks for 18 hours until relieved by infantry. The Essex Yeomanry suffered 135 casualties and almost all the horses were killed. Many awards were made; in particular Lance Corporal Harold Mugford, late of the Essex Yeomanry, was awarded the Victoria Cross. He was born on 31st August 1894 and had joined the Essex Yeomanry in 1912 and was in the EY Machine Gun detachment until the 8th MG Squadron was formed in 1916.
After the town of Monchy had been occupied by the EY, he placed his machine gun in a forward and exposed position and dealt with an enemy formation massing for a counter-attack. His No2 was killed almost immediately and at the same moment Mugford was severely wounded. He was ordered to a new position and told to go to the dressing station as soon as it was occupied. Refusing to leave his gun, e continued to inflict losses on the enemy.
A short time later a shell broke both is legs, but he would not leave his gun, begging his comrades to take cover.
Ultimately, Mugford was taken to the dressing station where he was again wounded in the arm.
He received the Victoria Cross for distinguished gallantry at Monchy of 11th April 1917. He died on 16th June 1958 and was afforded a military funeral in Chelmsford Cathedral.
For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty when under intense shell and machine-gun fire at Monchy-le-Preux, Lance Corporal Mugford succeeded in getting his machine-gun into a forward and very exposed position. From this point he was able to deal most effectively with the enemy, who were massing for counter-attack. His No 2 was killed almost immediately, and at the same moment he himself was severely wounded. He was then ordered to a new position and told to go to the dressing-station, but continued on duty with his gun, inflicting severe loss on the enemy.
Soon after he was again wounded, a shell breaking both his legs. He still remained with his gun, begging his comrades to leave him and take cover. Shortly afterwards this non-commissioned officer was removed to the dressing-station where he was again wounded in the arm.
The valour and initiative displayed by Lance Corporal Mugford was instrumental in breaking up the impending counter-attack of the enemy. For his conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty, he was awarded the Victoria Cross.