b. 04/11/1885 Lossiemouth, Scotland. d. 24/03/1918 Arras, France.
Alexander Edwards (1885-1918) was born at High Street, Branderburgh, Lossiemouth, Morayshire, Scotland on 4th November 1885. His father, also Alexander, was a fisherman. He married Jessie Smith, a fisherman’s servant, on 3rd October 1873 at the United Presbyterian Church, Lossiemouth. Alexander junior had seven siblings: Ann, William, Margaret, Jemima, James, John and Jessie.
Alexander was educated at Lossiemouth School. He was employed as a cooper, being apprenticed to Thomas Jenkins, a fish curer of Burghead. He later worked for James Gerry of Buckie and just before the war for Thomas Davidson of Aberdeen. He also acted as a caddy at Moray Golf Club. He enlisted on 1st September 1914 and was promoted to Lance Corporal prior to travelling to France on 1st May 1915. He was later promoted to Sergeant. In October 1916 he was troubled by a throat infection and after six weeks was evacuated to England. He spent two weeks back in Lossiemouth, following which he was posted to a Reserve Battalion. In June 1917, he volunteered to return to France.
On 31st July 1917, near Langermarck, Belgium, having located a hostile machine gun in a wood, he, with great dash and courage, led some men against it, killed all the team and captured the gun. Later, when a sniper was causing casualties, he crawled out to stalk him, and although badly wounded in the arm, went on and killed him. One officer only was now left with the company, and, realising that the success of the operation depended on the capture of the furthest objective, Serjt. Edwards, regardless of his wound, led his men on till this objective was captured. He subsequently showed great skill in consolidating his position, and very great daring in personal reconnaissance. Although again twice wounded on the following day, this very gallant N.C.O. maintained throughout a complete disregard for personal safety, and his high example of coolness and determination engendered a fine fighting spirit in his men.
He was wounded in the action and evacuated to a Base Hospital. The VC was presented outside Buckingham Palace on 26th September 1917 by King George V. On 4th October, he was presented with a wallet containing National War Loan Bonds, War Saving Certificates and money. He was initiated as a Freeemason into Pitgaveny Lodge on 3rd January 1918.
On 24th-27th March 1918 he was in action near Loupart Wood, Bapaume when he was reported wounded and missing. His body was never recovered and he was commemorated on the Arras Memorial. Alexander never married, but at one time was engaged to Bella Christie of Aberdeen.
In addition to his VC, he was also awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal 1914-19. The VC is held by the Queen’s Own Highlanders Museum, Fort George, Ardersier, Inverness-shire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: QUEENS OWN HIGHLANDERS MUSEUM, FORT GEORGE.
BURIAL PLACE: BODY NOT FOUND, NAME ON ARRAS MEMORIAL, FRANCE. BAY 8
Alexander Edwards' medals including VC at the Queens Own Highlanders Museum, Fort George, Inverness-shire, Scotland (Picture - Thomas Stewart).
Edwards' medals (pictured top set) on display in August 2015 in a new updated display from the one on the left
War Illustrated, 6th October 1917
Lossiemouth War Memorial
Lossiemouth Golf Course
Lossiemouth (Thomas Stewart)
Loupart Wood, The Somme (Paul R Hughes)