Saturday 26 February 2011

The Rev. E. N. Mellish VC, MC

Edward Noel Mellish VC MC (24 December 1880 – 8 July 1962) was an English 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.

Edward Noel Mellish was born on 24 December 1880 at Oakleigh Park, Barnet, North London. He was the son of Edward and Mary Mellish. He went on to be educated at Saffron Walden Grammar School and from there became a member of the Artists Rifles. In 1900 he began serving with Baden-Powell's police against the Boers in South Africa.

Feeling that his work in Africa was over Edward Mellish returned to England to study at Kings College London taking holy orders in 1912 to become curate at St Pauls Church in Deptford. Here he did great work with the Church Lads Brigade taking over an old public house behind the Empire Music Hall and turning it into a boys club. The youngsters insisted on naming it after their curate and it became known as the Noel Club.

On the outbreak of the First World War he offered his services to the chaplaincy and served from May 1915 until February 1919. Just a few months after this his brother Second Lieutenant Richard Coppin Mellish was killed in action whilst serving with the 1st Middlesex Regiment at the Battle of Loos on 25 September 1915. Reverend Edward Noel Mellish was attached to the 4th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers in Ypres Salient in 1916 and it was them during the first three days of the "Action of the St Eloi Craters" that he performed the action for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. He was the first member of the army chaplaincy to win the VC.

He was 35 years old, and a Chaplain in the Army Chaplains' Department, British Army during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC:
During the period 27 - 29 March 1916 at St. Eloi, Belgium, Captain The Reverend Noel Mellish went backwards and forwards under continuous and very heavy shell and machine-gun fire between our original trenches and those captured from the enemy, in order to tend and rescue wounded men. He brought in 10 badly wounded men on the first day from ground swept by machine-gun fire. He went back on the second day and brought in 12 more and on the night of the third day he took charge of a party of volunteers and once more returned to the trenches to rescue the remaining wounded.
St. Eloi is located approximately three kilometers east of Ypres, Belgium. The defense of St. Eloi is commemorated by the Hill 62 Memorial.
The Reverend Mellish continued to minister to the troops' needs until the war's end in November of 1918 and just three weeks after this he married Miss Elizabeth Wallace on December 3rd at his home church of St Pauls in Deptford.
His final years were spent in quiet retirement in Somerset where he passed away on July 8th 1962 in the village of South Petherton at the age of 82
His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Fusiliers Museum, Tower of London, England.
Replica medals are on display at The Museum of Army Chaplaincy.

New Zealand newspaper cutting
reporting Noel Mellish's VC award.


Mellishbute said...

The picture you have of Edward Noel Mellish is not of him - it is of Rev Theodore Bayley Hardy

Andy said...

Hi Mellisbute,

That was remiss of me to get the wrong photo. My apologies..and correct photo now in place. Thanks for your observation.