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Bridgeton's war hero          Pte.Henry May page 2 of 5



NEWSPAPER ARTICLES  VC award     King George.V    Henry's death

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     family
Extract and Photograph above from 'Daily Record and Mail,' April 20th 1915:
GLASGOW'S VC.....A VISIT TO PRIVATE MAY'S HOME

One of the 'Daily Record and Mail' representatives had the pleasing duty of conveying the glad tidings to Mrs.May.  Naturally she was delighted that the coveted distinction had been awarded to her husband, but one thing she would have preferred even before the Victoria Cross, as she frankly phrased it, " would be him comin' in that door as weel as when he left."
Many woman with husbands at the war will appreciate the sentiment thus expressed. Private May has his home at 38 Colvend Street, Bridgeton, Glasgow, a quiet thoroughfare in the neighbourhood of Main Street and adjacent to the bridge which connects with the Rutherglen side of the river. He has a family of three, the eldest being a sunny little lady of six summers, and the youngest, of the same sex, eighteen months.  
The hero is 29 years of age, and is known in several of the factories in the East-end. Previous to joining the army, he acted as a mechanic at the weaving mill of Messrs John Brown and Company, Adelphi Street, and after serving the necessary three years with the colours he was employed as a tenter in the weaving factory of Messrs Frew, Main Street, Bridgeton.
When war broke out Private May had only about a fortnight of his time to serve as a reservist. Called up with his comrades, he proceeded immediately to the front, and in the interval he has participated in nearly all the heavy fighting.
A LUCKY MAN
According to Mrs May, whose anxiety throughout the interview  was to tell her simple tale with befitting modesty, Private May "has always been lucky."  His fortune has been out on occasion, however, for the gallant soldier received one wound. The mishap occurred on November 2. Happily the injury was not of a very serious nature, but it was severe enough to necessitate his remaining in hospital for three weeks. A piece of shrapnel, which had struck him on the cheek, was the cause of his absence from duty. 
Following upon the treatment at the hospital, Private May was was transferred to the base, where he was detained for six weeks
Home leave was granted at the expiry of his stay at the base, and the wounded hero reached Glasgow in time to enjoy the Christmas and New Year festivities. His holiday among friends was a short one. Three weeks saw it ended, and at the close of that period he was once again on his way to the trenches.
Little that was detailed could be ascertained with respect to the gallant action which had earned the Victoria Cross. In his speech and in his letters from the front on his return to the fighting zone, Private May had very little to say concerning the part he had played.  
Whispers had reached the ears of Private May that his bravery might be rewarded with the Distinguished Conduct Medal, but an honour such as had been awarded was never anticipated.
THE RESCUED OFFICER
Mrs May knew nothing of the earlier act mentioned in the official version. To the best of her knowledge, Lieutenant D.A.H.Graham, an Edinburgh gentleman, was the officer whom her husband had rescued. Apologising for her lack of particulars, and for possible inaccuracies, she explained that so far as she knew the officer was lying wounded when Private May and a number of other men endeavoured to bring him back to the British lines. In the attempt the others who had made the gallant essay were wounded.

Private May, who, in the darkness, was unable to make out the Cameronians lines. In the circumstances he did the next best thing possible; he conveyed the wounded officer, although Lieutenant Graham begged the the brave soldier to leave him to his fate, to a ditch, where shelter was obtained.
To his chagrin, Private May found, with the arrival of daylight, that the same amount of exertion would have suffice to bring the wounded officer right among his friends, for the British lines were but a few yards distant.  Lieutenant Graham, it transpired, was wounded in three places, and is believed to be recuperating in the East of Scotland at the moment.
 The noble part played by Private May did not escape notice, if the announcement of the distinction does appear belated. In a letter forwarded to his wife, Private May enclosed the following intimation which had reached him:- 
     "Your Commanding officer and brigade commander have informed me that you distinguished yourself on 22nd October, 1914, near La Boutillerie.   I have read their report with much pleasure."
  signed   J.S.Keir, Major General, Commanding 6th Division, 
               British Army in the Field, 31st March, 1915

 


Extract and Photographs below from 'Daily Record and Mail,' June 28th 1920:


V.C.'s AS KING'S GUEST

Never in the nation's history has such a spectacle been presented as was witnessed at Buckingham Place on Saturday afternoon, when 324 heroes, all decorated with the Victoria Cross - soldiers and sailors who had won the award for valour during Britain's many wars of 61 years -  were entertained by their King at a garden party at the Palace.
And Scotland was well represented in that memorable and impressive gathering. The men marched in stately files across the lawn to be received by the King and Queen. The little bronze Cross was the only passport required for this unique function. 
Each soldier and sailor was allowed to invite two relatives or friends, and in all, about a thousand persons were admitted to the grounds.
Spirit of Comradeship
In the march from Wellington Barracks to Buckingham Palace of this glorious company of men whose deeds had thrilled the nation. 



The defiant skirl of the bagpipes was heard, and in the column were to be seen kilted figures whose prowess and dauntless bravery had thrilled the hearts of Scotland.

The keynote of the march was undoubtedly comradeship, the comradeship which which secured to our troops victory in the great War.
When the V.C.'s reached the Palace outskirts the big gates swung open, and the "comrades of the V.C. order" many of their breasts glittering with other decorations, received a reception from the gathering crowd which will live long in their memories. 

 

 

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Henry May's Death

Extract from newspaper 
   'Sunday Mail'  July 27th 1941

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

      Extract from newspaper 
       'Daily Record and Mail' 
             July 30th 1941

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Acknowledgements:  My thanks to :-
 Iain Stewart for his help, I have never met Iain, but he kindly posted me data on Henry May's VC award  ... see Iain's website 
Gavin Berry for his assistance with these old newspaper articles.
Charlie McDonald for his contributions and Ronnie McPhee for bringing Henry May to my attention.

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Henry May

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