b. 09/05/1882 Bishop Auckland, Durham. d. 29/12/1956 Lambeth, London.
Basil John Douglas Guy (1882-1956) was born on 9th May 1882 in Bishop Auckland, the son of the Reverend Sherwood Guy, Vicar of Christ Church, Harrogate. His early education was undertaken at Aysgarth School, Yorkshire, and at Llandaff Cathedral School before undertaking training in the Royal Navy’s cadet training ship HMS Britannia, moored at Dartmouth.
On 15th July 1898 Guy passed out from Britannia and joined the pre-dreadnought, second class battleship, HMS Barfleur which at that time was operating in the Far East. When the Boxer rebellion broke out in China in 1900 Guy held the rank of midshipman.
On 13th July 1900 Guy was a member of a naval force that was landed to protect British nationals and other Europeans under threat of the anti-western Boxers. It was decided to make an attack on Tientsin City and during the advance the force was subjected to an exceptionally heavy cross-fire which inflicted numerous casualties on the advancing seamen.
One of the ratings hit was Able Seaman T McCarthy who was shot when about 50 yards short of cover. Seeing the man’s plight, Midshipman Guy ran to his aid and examined his wounds. He then attempted to lift McCarthy and carry him to safety, but the dead- weight of the sailor was too great for the young midshipman. By that time the remainder of the force had forged ahead finding cover; the result being that Guy and McCarthy drew the concentrated fire of those firing from the city wall. Guy subsequently dressed McCarthy’s wounds before leaving to get assistance.
Having found help, Guy joined two stretcher bearers as they ran out to carry the wounded rating to safety. With complete disregard for his own well-being, Guy assisted to place McCarthy on the stretcher as the ground around him was ploughed up by heavy fire. Miraculously he was not hit although the hapless McCarthy was to suffer a fatal wound as he was being carried to safety.
In recognition of the 18-year-old midshipman’s valour, Guy was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross. He was personally decorated by His Majesty King Edward VII at Keyham Barracks, Devonport on 8th March 1902.
During the years that followed Guy continued to serve in the Royal Navy attaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander. During World War I, he was appointed in command of the Q ship HMS Wonganella in which he further distinguished himself on 11th March 1917, being awarded the DSO. On 8th August 1917, he married Elizabeth Mary Arnold, in Christ Church, Harrogate, Yorkshire. In June 1918, Guy was promoted to Commander and after serving five years in that rank he retired. He was recalled for further service during World War II serving in staff appointments.
Commander B.J.D. Guy, VC, DSO died at Lambeth, London, on 28th December 1956. He was buried at St Michael's & All Angels Churchyard, Pirbright, Surrey. His medals were donated to the Imperial War Museum, where they are displayed in the Ashcroft Gallery.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM
BURIAL PLACE: ST MICHAEL'S CHURCHYARD, PIRBRIGHT, SURREY. FAMILY GRAVE
Basil Guy's medals including VC and DSO on display at Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London. (August 2014).
Lord Ashcroft Collection picture of his medals