27th October marks the anniversary of the action during the Second World War for which Old Wellingtonian Victor Buller Turner was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Victor came to Wellington in the Autumn of 1913, and was in the Blucher. While at College he became a School Prefect, Captain of the 2nd XI, Head of Fives, a member of the Literary Society and a Lance Corporal in the Corps. He left at the end of 1917 and went to Sandhurst, being commissioned into the Rifle Brigade in 1918.
By the outbreak of war in 1939 he was a Major, and in 1942 was made temporary Lieutenant-Colonel. In October 1942 he commanded a battalion of the Rifle Brigade at the pivotal Second Battle of El Alamein in North Africa. After overcoming a German position, the battalion fought off desperate counter-attacks by 90 German tanks, destroying or immobilising more than 50 of them. During the action, one of the 6-pounder guns was left with only one officer and a sergeant, so Colonel Turner joined them as loader, and between them they destroyed another five tanks. Not until the last tank had been repulsed did he consent to having a wound in his head attended to.
Victor’s citation records that ‘he and his Battalion were continuously attacked from 5.30 a.m. to 7 p.m., unsupported and so isolated that replenishment of ammunition was impossible owing to the concentration and accuracy of the enemy fire… Throughout the action Lieutenant-Colonel Turner never ceased to go to each part of the front as it was threatened. Wherever the fire was heaviest, there he was to be found… He set an example of leadership and bravery which inspired his whole Battalion and which will remain an inspiration to the Brigade.’
Victor survived the War, and afterwards was appointed to the Royal Household, where he held various ceremonial positions as part of the Queen’s bodyguard. He died in 1972.
On 1st October we remembered Victor’s older brother, Alexander Buller Turner, who received a posthumous Victoria Cross for his action in the First World War. Victor and Alexander are one of only four pairs of brothers both to be awarded Victoria Crosses, and the only pair who won them in two separate world wars.