I drove through nature’s wondrous colours to find Maunby village in the Yorkshire countryside. I passed over a stone bridge that seemed to cut the village away from things found myself on the main lane - one pub, no post office, no café, no butcher, baker or candlestick maker. I was looking for a church spire but didn’t see one and asked a woman on horseback outside a sign “Harrowgate Bloodstock Ltd” where the village buried their dead. I’d driven pass a small quaint church not much bigger than a typical terraced house. I’d driven passed it, engrossed in an audio book.
Outside the church a man was tacking some ivy that was choking the trunk of a large tree. I said “Hello, I’m here to see the Victoria Cross soldier.” A red-nosed face looked up, “That’s my grandfather.” The chap spoke in an upper-class accent. What a brushstroke of luck. He led me into the church and told me all about his brave granddad though I hardly took it in as he was so posh and from a higher class I was surprised to meet him. He exuded the manner of a lord or a duke and I could tell he was used to getting his way when he suddenly announced, “Now you can give me a lift can’t you. I’m tired. I was up early this morning when a lot of the cattle escaped.” There was a field adjacent to the church populated with cows. “Let me get my tools together,” he said which gave me a minute to swipe the Swiss Roll (and smoking hot dwarf porn) off the passenger seat of the motorhome. I drove him to a magnificent house about 400m away and dropped off the friendly old duffer. Oddly he had not taken me to his granddad’s grave.
I drove back to have a look at his granddad’s grave (he used “grandfather” which is surely a tad formal for your own blood.) When Alan was 21 he was a lieutenant in the 58th Rutlandshire Regiment and fighting in South Africa during the First Boer War. On Friday 28th January 1881 in Nek his battalion were under heavy gunfire and ordered to retreat. Alan remained though, aware of one of his lads lying on the ground severely wounded in no-man’s land. He ran across to him, tried to hoist him onto a horse but was unable to. He carried him in his arms instead and was returning to safety when a bullet finished off the wounded man. Alan then mounted his horse and saved another wounded man and then did the same again. Oddly he was never even grazed by one of the hundreds of bullets sprayed at him.
Alan Hill invested with his Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle on the 13th May 1882. He rose to Major before he retiring from the army. Aged 43 he married Muriel Walker and changed his surname to Hill-Walker. He died aged 84, a ripe age for a man of that era.
I looked inside one of the smallest churches I’ve seen. The man I’d bumped into said it was easy to heat with a single boiler and this was easy to see. As usual I preached to the invisible flock about being kinder to animals. If the place has CCTV someone will have a chuckle.
Touching the “VC”…
It’s a bit of a one-horse village…