Special remembrance for Frank Alexander de Pass, World War One Lieutenant and Victoria Cross honorary

Centenary remembrance of World War One continues this year with the laying of commemoration plaques in London’s Whitehall in honour of those who received the Victoria Cross.

In particular, Victoria Cross honorary Lieutenant Frank de Pass was remembered this week with a plaque alongside others who gave their lives.

What makes Frank de Pass unique is that he was the first Jewish andthe first Indian Army Officer to be honoured with the highest award for valour. In the midst of heavy fighting in France in November 1914, Frank rescued a wounded soldier. The next day he was later killed by an enemy sniper, whilst trying to divert them from his regiment who were conducting trench repairs.

Frank was a British national, born in London in 1887. In 1906, he joined the Royal Horse Artillery and three years later joined the 34th Prince Albert Victor’s Own Poona Horse, an armoured regiment of the Indian Army. The regiment originated in the early 1800s and went on to take part in World War One, World War Two, and post-independence, the Indo-Pakistan conflicts of 1965 and 1971.

A ceremony took place earlier in November in tribute to Frank de Pass, with the UK Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, members of Frank’s family and other Victoria Cross recipients in attendance.

Reports at the time describe Frank’s courage and how much his fellow soldiers respected him and his actions, using language such as, ‘intrepid’ and an ‘example’.

Frank’s Victoria Cross is on display in the National Army Museum in London. He is one of only four members of the Poona Horse regiment to receive the Victoria Cross, the Centenary News reports.

Victoria Cross commemorations will continue throughout the rest of the year.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE