Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Winning of a Military Medal on British soil

 1. Private Joseph Lister, M.M. (Border Regiment)
[Courtesy of 'The Whitehaven News']
 2. Two West Cumbrian villages on the Solway Coast: 
Lowca (in distance) and Parton  (in foreground)
[Lowca was Pte. Joseph Lister's home village]
 3. Training to use a Bren gun for Anti-Aircraft defence (summer 1940)
[Courtesy of the Border Regiment & K.O.R.B.R. Museum]
4. Joseph Lister (right) honoured by the Home Guard
(Lowca and Parton platoons, Whitehaven battalion)

[Courtesy of 'The Whitehaven News']
For additional information click on 'Comments' below. 


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information


Private Joseph Lister, a Border Regiment Territorial of the Second World War [Photograph No. 1, above], was one of the few people to receive the award of Military Medal for an action which took place on British soil. His home village was the West Cumbrian mining coal village of Lowca situated overlooking the Solway coast [Photograph No. 2].

In the late summer of 1940, when the German Luftwaffe were bombing the aerodromes of southern England. One of the Luftwaffe's chief targets during the Battle of Britain was Manston Aerodrome, Kent. It was here that Private Lister's Company was based, manning the Anti-Aircraft ('Ack-Ack') Bren guns (light machine guns). Photograph No. 3 shows officers and men of the Border Regiment learning to use the Bren gun for Anti-Aircraft defence in the summer of 1940. It should be noted how the machine gun is mounted for Ack-Ack defence.

In September 1940, as the number one machine gunner Private Lister was helping to defend Manston against 12 Heinkel bombers. He returned the enemy's fire and continued doing so despite being hit eight times by enemy machine gun fire. These serious bullet wounds were to his face, left arm and left thigh while another bullet exploded two rounds of his ammunition pouch. Subsequently, he was hit in the right leg below the knee - an even more serious wound that led to amputation of the lower part of his leg. Nevertheless, the defenders managed a successful defence of Manston aerodrome. It was an important part of the overall British victory in the Battle of Britain.

Following a period in hospital Private Joseph Lister, on Friday 28 March 1941 Joseph Lister returned to his home village of Lowca where the officers and men from the Lowca and Parton platoons of the Whitehaven Home Guard battalion turned out in tribute to one of their home-grown heroes. This was also the occasion when Joseph Lister was presented with the Military Medal by Whitehaven Battalion Adjutant W.C. Sumner, M.M. [Photograph No. 4]. In spite of everything, Joseph Lister (seen on the right of this photograph) retained a happy and spirited disposition.

Sunday, 30 March, 2014  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Some biographical information

According to the contemporary newspaper report about the award of the Military Medal, in 1941 Joseph Lister was 24 years old. At the time Joseph Lister's parents were still living in a terraced house in Lowca village (24 West Croft Terrace) while his wife and child were living near Dumfries.

Having been educated at the local village school in Lowca, from a young age Joseph Lister showed he was a talented sportsman and musician. He had captained the school football team when they had won the Cumberland County Shield and captained the Whitehaven District school team in the English Schools Shield tournament. Later, he had played for the neighbouring village side of Harrington in one of the local leagues when they won the Nursing Association Trophy.

Before enlisting to the Border Regiment, Joseph Lister had worked in the lamp room at one of the local collieries, Harrington (Lowca) No. 10 Colliery. As a musician, Joseph Lister played the euphonium in three bands - Lowca Colliery Band, Moor Row Band and Workington Town Band.

While being treated for the serious wounds he received in the defence of Manston Aerodrome, the hospital in which Joseph Lister was being treated was attacked by enemy planes and part of the hospital demolished. He was later transferred to another hospital in Wales where he was fitted with an artificial leg.

The award of the Military Medal to Private Joseph Lister was rather unusual in that it was for an action that took place on British soil while repelling an enemy attack. However, it would be the last action he would take an active part in. Because of the serious of his wounds, Joseph Lister had to be discharged from the Army.

Sunday, 30 March, 2014  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

A hero recognised in his own village

On Friday 28 March 1941 virtually all the villagers of Lowca turned out to pay tribute to Joseph Lister, their local hero of the Battle of Britain. It was also the occasion when the Military Medal was pinned on his chest.

The Home Guard platoons of Lowca and the nearby village of Parton turned out in tribute, under the Company Commander J.F. Shardlow and Platoon Commanders J. George and R. Gallantry. Lowca and Parton Home Guard platoons formed part of the 6th Cumberland (Whitehaven) Battalion. The presentation of the Military Medal was made by the Battalion Adjutant (later Major) W.C. Sumner, M.M., who was a Military Medallist of the First World War. Major Sumner can be seen on the left of Photograph No. 4.

The Home Guard detachments from Lowca and Parton formed two sides of a square. The third side of a square was formed by representatives of other platoons of the Whitehaven Home Guard battalion and the fourth side of a square was formed by the villagers of Lowca. With the aid of his crutches, Joseph Lister proceeded to the centre of the square where Major Sumner paid the following tribute before pinning the medal on Joseph Lister's chest:

"Not only Lowca, but the whole of Cumberland is proud of you. You have added to a glorious tradition".

After Major Sumner and Private Lister shook hands it was reported the gathered assembly cheered loudly.

In reply, Private Lister thanked everyone present and stated that what he had done was in the course of his duty:

"I just did what we were trained to do. I am only sorry that the loss of my leg has prevented me from carrying on in the Army."

Sunday, 30 March, 2014  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...


This article is dedicated to the gallant Private Joseph Lister, M.M., a gallant hero and a fine example to others at a time when the whole future of civilisation seemed to be at risk.

"The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example."
Benjamin Disraeli (1804 - 1881)
[Former British Prime Minister and author].


Thanks to the following for their assistance in preparing this article:

'The Whitehaven News'

Cumbria County Archives & Local Studies Centre, Whitehaven

Border Regiment & K.O.R.B.R. Museum, Carlisle

Sunday, 30 March, 2014  

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