Here I am on a sunny Saturday evening stood over the brave bones of Thomas Ashford. He was born in Newmarket, Suffolk, the illegitimate son of Thomas Ashford, a boot maker and Emma Elsdon. Not much is known about him but aged 18 he joined the Army. Three years later he was a Private in The Royal Fusiliers fighting in the Second Anglo-Afghan War near Kandahar, Afghanistan,
On Monday 16th August 1880 the 21-year-old was fighting in the village of Deh Khoja in the Second Afgan War. A sortie had been tasked to fight the Afghan tribesmen. Fierce fighting broke out, guns were blazing, all were shooting to kill. Thomas saw a soldier had been wounded and with Lieutenant William St. Lucien Chase (who would also be awarded a Victoria Cross) he set off under heavy gunfire to carry him back to safety. The distance was over 200m and he was expecting to die any second. Against outlandish odds he made it back to safety.
After the war Thomas settled in Thringstone in Leicestershire. Aged 31 he married in Thringstone Church to Betsy Ann Sisson and he was a postman for about 20 years. Sadly he died of bronchitis at home aged just 53 years. Though thousands of mourners attended the funeral the grave lay unmarked for 79 years until the British Legion paid a headstone. It was enlightening to see a few blood-red poppies on it. I did a salute and left.
The funeral in 1913...