Oldham Historical Research Group

'What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
- Only the monstrous anger of the guns.'
from 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' by Wilfred Owen

1914 - 1918

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Victoria Cross

Oldham and its surrounding district can lay claim to no less than 3 soldiers who were awarded the highest decoration possible, 'The Victoria Cross',

One of these was THOMAS STEELE

John Hogan VC - 1914-1918

Sergeant THOMAS STEELE, 811
1st Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders
born in Saddleworth; lived in Springhead

medal card - thomas steele

Medal card for :
Sergeant THOMAS STEELE, 811
1st Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders

His citation, from wikipedia, reads:

Thomas Steele was 26 years old, and a sergeant in the 1st Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs, Duke of Albany's), British Army during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC:

"On 22 February 1917 near Sanna-y-Yat, Mesopotamia, at a critical moment when a strong enemy counter-attack had temporarily regained some of the captured trenches, Sergeant Steele helped a comrade to carry a machine-gun into position. He kept this gun in action until relieved and was mainly instrumental in keeping the rest of the line intact. Some hours later another counter-attack enabled the enemy to reoccupy a portion of the captured trenches and Sergeant Steele rallied the troops, encouraging them to remain in their trenches and leading a number of them forward, helped to re-establish our line. On this occasion he was severely wounded."

According to an article in the Yorkshire Post newspaper, "he played three matches as a professional for Broughton, one of rugby league's founding clubs, and enjoyed a distinguished career as an amateur with his local club, Healey Street."

He died in Springhead in 1978 aged 87.

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