Δευτέρα, 8 Αυγούστου 2016

If only I had known what he would turn out to be’- A VC hero who held Hitler at gunpoint – and let him go


The military code of conduct changes over time. During WWI, one would expect that despite the horrifying circumstances, wounded enemies should not be shot down like clay pigeons. Nevertheless, that is exactly what had happened most of the time. Private Henry Tandey thought otherwise.
Henry Tandey was born into a military family in 1891. On 12 August 1910, he joined the Green Howards line infantry regiment of the British Army. Prior to the outbreak of WWI, he was posted in Guernsey and South Africa.
His achievements made him the single most decorated private soldier in WWI. In October 1914, he took part in the battle of Ypres in Belgium, where the British forces suffered great casualties from the German enemy. The ending scene with Tandey carrying a soldier wounded in this battle with no clear outcome was later depicted by an Italian artist, Fortunino Matania. Years later, this picture will be in the spotlight of an international controversy that will haunt Tandey for the rest of his life.
Matania’s painting shows Henry Tandey carrying a wounded colleague (Trustees of the Green Howards Museum). Source
Matania’s painting shows Henry Tandey carrying a wounded colleague (Trustees of the Green Howards Museum). Source
Two years later, in August 1916, he fought in France, in the Second Battle of Cambrai during the Hundred Days Offensive. His resoluteness in storming across the no man’s land in order to bomb the German trenches and the subsequent capturing of 20 prisoners earned him the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Two weeks later, he repeated the scenario, returning with a bunch of prisoners yet again. This earned him the Military Medal.