Thomas Ricketts

Last updated
Thomas Ricketts
Thomas Ricketts, VC (1901-1967).jpg
Born15 April 1901, Middle Arm, White Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador [1]
Died10 February 1967 (aged 66) St. John`s, Newfoundland and Labrador
Buried
Allegiance Newfoundland
Years of service1916 1919
Rank Sergeant
Unit Royal Newfoundland Regiment
Battles/wars World War I
Awards Victoria Cross
Croix de Guerre (France)

Thomas "Tommy" Ricketts VC (April 15, 1901 February 10, 1967) was a Newfoundland soldier and recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Ricketts is the youngest army recipient fighting in a combatant role.

Victoria Cross highest military decoration awarded for valour in armed forces of various Commonwealth countries

The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system. It is awarded for gallantry "in the presence of the enemy" to members of the British Armed Forces. It may be awarded posthumously. It was previously awarded to Commonwealth countries, most of which have established their own honours systems and no longer recommend British honours. It may be awarded to a person of any military rank in any service and to civilians under military command although no civilian has received the award since 1879. Since the first awards were presented by Queen Victoria in 1857, two-thirds of all awards have been personally presented by the British monarch. These investitures are usually held at Buckingham Palace.

Dominion of Newfoundland UK possession in North America between 1907 and 1949

Newfoundland was a British dominion from 1907 to 1949. The dominion, situated in northeastern North America along the Atlantic coast, comprised the island of Newfoundland as well as Labrador on the continental mainland. Before attaining dominion status, Newfoundland was a British colony, self-governing from 1855.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom, officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but more commonly known as the UK or Britain, is a sovereign country lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state‍—‌the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Contents

Victoria Cross

Ricketts, who was 17 years old and a private in the 1st Battalion, Royal Newfoundland Regiment during the First World War, performed the following on October 14, 1918 for which he was awarded the VC:

A private is a soldier of the lowest military rank.

Royal Newfoundland Regiment

The Royal Newfoundland Regiment is a Primary Reserve infantry regiment of the Canadian Army. It is part of the 5th Canadian Division's 37 Canadian Brigade Group.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

During the advance from Ledeghem (Belgium) the attack was temporarily held up by heavy hostile fire, and the platoon to which he belonged suffered severe casualties from the fire of a battery at point blank range. Private Ricketts at once volunteered to go forward with his Section Commander and a Lewis gun to attempt to outflank the battery. They advanced by short rushes while subject to severe fire from enemy machine guns.

Ledegem Municipality in Flemish Community, Belgium

Ledegem is a municipality located in the Belgian province of West Flanders. The municipality comprises the towns of Ledegem proper, Rollegem-Kapelle and Sint-Eloois-Winkel. On January 1, 2006, Ledegem had a total population of 9,306. The total area is 24.76 km² which gives a population density of 376 inhabitants per km².

When 300 yards away, their ammunition gave out. The enemy, seeing an opportunity to get their field guns away, began to bring up their gun teams. Private Ricketts at once realized the situation. He doubled back 100 yards, procured some ammunition and dashed back to the Lewis gun, and by very accurate fire drove the enemy and their gun teams into a farm. His platoon then advanced without casualties, and captured four field guns, four machine guns and eight prisoners. A fifth field gun was subsequently intercepted by fire and captured. By his presence of mind in anticipating the enemy intention and his utter disregard for personal safety, Private Ricketts secured the further supplies of ammunition which directly resulted in these important captures and undoubtedly saved many lives. [2]

King George V presented Ricketts with his VC at York Cottage on the Sandringham Estate on January 19, 1919. At the ceremony, the King reportedly stated: "This is the youngest VC in my army." General Dighton Probyn, one of the oldest living VC holders at the time, was also present at the investiture. [3]

George V King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India

George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 until his death in 1936.

York Cottage house in the grounds of the Sandringham Estate, in Norfolk, England

York Cottage is a house in the grounds of Sandringham House in Norfolk, England.

Sandringham House Country house in Norfolk, England, private home of Queen Elizabeth II

Sandringham House is a country house in the parish of Sandringham, Norfolk, England. It is the private home of Elizabeth II, whose father, George VI, and grandfather, George V, both died there. The house stands in a 20,000-acre (8,100 ha) estate in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The house is listed as Grade II* along with its landscaped gardens, park, and woodlands.

While Ricketts is the youngest VC army recipient in a combatant role, he is not the youngest VC recipient. Hospital Apprentice Andrew Fitzgibbon and Drummer Thomas Flinn (who despite strictly being a non-combatant, received his VC for hand-to-hand combat during the Indian Mutiny), both aged 15, were awarded the VC in non-combatant roles. While Ricketts, Fitzgibbon and Flinn were all living VC recipients, Jack Cornwell of the Royal Navy was awarded the VC posthumously for his actions at the Battle of Jutland at age 16.

Andrew Fitzgibbon Recipient of the Victoria Cross

Andrew Fitzgibbon VC was an Irish soldier, and possibly the youngest recipient of the Victoria Cross.

Jack Cornwell Recipient of the Victoria Cross

John Travers Cornwell VC, commonly known as Jack Cornwell or as Boy Cornwell, is remembered for his gallantry at the Battle of Jutland during Word War One. Having died at the age of only 16, he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Cornwell is the third-youngest recipient of the VC after Andrew Fitzgibbon and Thomas Flinn.

Battle of Jutland 1916 naval battle during World War I

The Battle of Jutland was a naval battle fought between Britain's Royal Navy Grand Fleet, under Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet, under Vice-Admiral Reinhard Scheer, during the First World War. The battle unfolded in extensive manoeuvring and three main engagements, from 31 May to 1 June 1916, off the North Sea coast of Denmark's Jutland Peninsula. It was the largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of battleships in that war. Jutland was the third fleet action between steel battleships, following the smaller but more decisive battles of the Yellow Sea (1904) and Tsushima (1905) during the Russo-Japanese War. Jutland was the last major battle in world history fought primarily by battleships.

Ricketts was also awarded France's Croix de Guerre with Golden Star in 1919. [4]

After the war

Thomas Ricketts memorial plaque.
(Water Street, St. John's, Newfoundland) Ricketts plaque.gif
Thomas Ricketts memorial plaque.
(Water Street, St. John's, Newfoundland)
Thomas Rickettsmonument aan het Beurtepachthof.jpg

After the war, Ricketts studied pharmacy, and opened a business on Water Street in St. John's.

He was given a state funeral when he died in 1967, and is commemorated by a memorial on the former site of his pharmacy. Ricketts is buried at the Anglican Cemetery, Forest Road, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Ricketts' medals are on display at The Rooms in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Ricketts is sometimes erroneously referred to as having been a Canadian soldier during the First World War. Newfoundland was a self-governing dominion at the time and did not become a province of Canada until 1949.

The sports arena in Baie Verte is named in honour of Ricketts. [5] In 2018, the "Tommy Ricketts Memorial Peace Park" opened in Conception Bay South. [6]

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References

  1. "Newfoundland's Reluctant War Hero: Thomas Ricketts V.C" (PDF).
  2. "No. 31108". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 January 1919. p. 309.
  3. Roberts, Terry (11 November 2008). "Unwilling hero". The Telegram . Archived from the original on 6 January 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  4. "Private Thomas Ricketts". Canadian Great War Project. Archived from the original on 6 January 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2015.