Awards and Decorations: Victoria Cross
Died: 19th December 1914
William Arthur McCrae Bruce, only son of Colonel A McCrae Bruce, of La Fontaine, Pontac, entered [Victoria] College at the age of fourteen in September 1904. He was in the Cricket XI in 1907 and 1908. He entered Sandhurst as a King’s India Cadet, and passing out in 1909 was attached for a year to the Northumberland Fusiliers, and subsequently posted to the 59th Scinde Rifles.
He was at home on leave when the war began, and played for the OV’s against College in July. He sailed at once for India to rejoin his regiment but was ordered to await its arrival at Cairo. With it he landed in France with the first part of the Indian Expeditionary Force (IEF) in September 1914, and was killed on 19th December, 1914.
The Victoria Cross was posthumously awarded to him for valour on that day. The story is best told in the official wording of the award: “For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty.
On 19th December, 1914, near Givenchy, during a night attack, Lieut. Bruce was in command of a small party which captured one of the enemy’s trenches. In spite of being severely wounded in the neck, he walked up and down the trench, encouraging his men to hold on against several counter-attacks for some hours until killed. The fire from rifles and bombs was very heavy all day, and it was due to the skilful disposition made and the example and encouragement shown by Lieut. Bruce that his men were able to hold out until dusk, when the trench was finally captured by the enemy.”
The above text appeared in the Victoria College Book of Remembrance published in 1920.
The link to the Channel Islands Great War Study Group is: