Samuel Meekosha VC

Victoria Cross recipient, Corporal Samuel Meekosha, was only 22 years old when he took command during a WW1 bombardment at Yser, France, saving the lives of at least 4 of his platoon.

First child of Warsaw born Alexander Meekosha and his wife Mary Catherine Cunningham, Samuel Meekosha, was born in Leeds, on 16th September 1893. The family moved to Bradford when Samuel was a baby. Having spent his formative years in Bradford, WWI interrupted Samuel’s education at Bradford Technical College, and he joined the British Army’s Territorial Force, serving with the Bradford based 1st/6th Battalion, The Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire Regiment) of the 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division.

At Yser, France, on the 19th November 1915, Samuel was with his platoon of around 20 men holding an isolated trench. A heavy bombardment occurred, six were killed, seven wounded, and the rest were partially buried alive. No senior NCOs were left in action, so Samuel took command, sending for help and despite more large shells falling just 20 yards away, he continued to dig out the wounded, half buried men in full view and at close range of the Germans. His actions and heroic courage were responsible for saving at least four lives.

He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his valour and heroic actions. Samuel was promoted to Lieutenant in 1918 and Captain in 1919. He transferred to the Corps of Military Accountants in 1919 and retired in 1926. After WWI he became a representative for John Player, the tobacco company. Aged 46, he rejoined the West Yorkshire Regiment as Captain in 1940 to defend his country during WWII. He transferred to the Leicestershire based Royal Army Ordnance Corps the same year and was later promoted to Major. The modest Samuel then changed his instantly recognisable name by deed poll. People kept asking him, “Aren’t you……”

Speculation continues to debate whether he changed his name to Ingham to acknowledge his mother’s shortened maiden name Cunningham, or to take on his second wife’s name, Mary Constance Ingham. Either way, he was an incredibly modest man.