Captain Richard Wallace Annand, VC, DL (5 November 1914 – 24 December 2004) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Richard “Dickie” Wallace Annand was born in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, England, the son of Lieutenant-Commander Wallace Moir Annand, who was killed with the Collingwood Battalion of the Royal Naval Division at Gallipoli in June 1915.
"Dickie" Annand was 25 years old, and a Second Lieutenant in the 2nd Bn., The Durham Light Infantry, British Army during World War II when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.
On 15 May 1940, near the River Dyle, Belgium, Second Lieutenant Annand inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy with hand grenades. He was wounded, but after having his wound dressed, he made another attack on the enemy the same evening. Later, when the position became hopeless and the platoon was ordered to withdraw, Lieutenant Annand discovered that his batman was wounded and missing. He returned at once to the former position and brought him back in a wheelbarrow before fainting from loss of blood.
This was the first Victoria Cross won by the British Army in World War II. He later achieved the rank of Captain.
Richard Annand died on December 24, 2004. His service uniform and his Victoria Cross are on display in the Durham Light Infantry Museum.
For most conspicuous gallantry on the 15th-16th May 1940, when the platoon under his command was on the south side of the River Dyle, astride a blown bridge. During the night a strong attack was beaten off, but about 11 a.m. the enemy again launched a violent attack and pushed forward a bridging party into the sunken bottom of the river. Second Lieutenant Annand attacked this party, but when ammunition ran out he went forward himself over open ground, with total disregard for enemy mortar and machine-gun fire. Reaching the top of the bridge, he drove out the party below, inflicting over twenty casualties with hand grenades. Having been wounded he rejoined his platoon, had his wound dressed, and then carried on in command. Richard Annand's platoon sergeant said later "Mr Annand came to me at platoon headquarters and asked for a box of grenades as they could hear Jerry trying to repair the bridge. Off he went and he sure must have given them a lovely time because it wasn't a great while before he was back for more"
During the evening another attack was launched and again Second Lieutenant Annand went forward with hand grenades and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. When the order to withdraw was received, he withdrew his platoon, but learning on the way back that his batman was wounded and had been left behind, he returned at once to the former position and brought him back in a wheelbarrow, before losing consciousness as the result of wounds.
For two days Annand jolted through France in a Belgian hospital train without food or water. He no sooner arrived at the hospital in Calais than it had to be evacuated. He was put aboard the first of two hospital ships. The second was bombed and sank.
Annand was invested with the Victoria Cross by King George VI at Buckingham Palace on September 3 1940. Air raid warning sirens had been sounded shortly before the ceremony and the investiture was held inside the Palace instead of the quadrangle.
Richard Wallace Annand, always known as Dickie, was born on November 5 1914 at South Shields, County Durham. His father, Lt-Commander WM Annand, was killed at Gallipoli the following year. On leaving Pocklington School in East Yorkshire, Annand joined the National Provincial Bank for whom he worked first at South Shields and later in Rugby and London.
Annand had always wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and go into the Navy. In 1933, while at South Shields, he became a midshipman in the Tyne Division of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. In 1936, he was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant and attended a navigation course at Portsmouth and a gunnery course at Whale Island. In 1937 his application for a regular Navy commission was turned down because of his age. The following year he was gazetted Second Lieutenant in the supplementary reserve of The Durham Light Infantry.
Attached to the 2nd Battalion, The DLI, Annand landed in France in September 1939. As a result of wounds received in the action in Belgium in May 1940 he was invalided back to England but rejoined the re-formed Battalion at Bridlington the following month.
In June 1941, as a result of rifle practice on the ranges Annand lost what remained of his hearing and was discharged from the 2nd Battalion. In September he was appointed Instructor at the Commando Training Centre at Inverailort Castle, Inverness-shire.
In January 1942, Annand was posted to the Young Soldiers DLI Training Battalion at Brancepeth Castle, County Durham. In March he moved to Elgin as GS03, training the Home Guard. In December he was seconded to Gordonstoun School, then under the headmastership of Kurt Hahn, where he instructed the cadet force in pre-service training.
In July 1943 Annand was appointed Instructor at the Highland Fieldcraft Centre at Glenfeshie in the Cairngorms. In November he was posted to the War Office in Mayfair. He was offered a commission in the Pay Corps, but declined, and in 1948 he was invalided out of the Army.
In 1948, Annand became Personnel Officer at Finchale Abbey Training Centre for the Disabled, near Durham. Most of the rest of his life he devoted to helping the disabled.
After giving a speech in which he proposed a club for the hard of hearing, he was deluged with letters, and became a founder member of the British Association for the Hard of Hearing, which still exists as Hearing Concern. He also helped to set up the Durham County Association for the Disabled, where his role was more than administrative; he provided transport, often carrying members to his car. He also thought training the disabled little good without finding them work, and once loaded four tailors in his car and took them to London, where he found them jobs. He was president of his local branch of the British Legion, of the Dunkirk Veterans Association and of the St James's Art Society for the Deafened.
In 1956 Annand became a Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Durham and he was president of the Durham branch of the Light Infantry Club until 1998. In retirement his main recreation was golf.
In February 1979, at the age of 64, Annand saved his wife from drowning in the River Tyne after the two of them had dined aboard Bacchante. The next day one local newspaper paper carried the headline: "War hero rescues wife from drowning." Another had "Durham magistrate falls in Tyne after naval party". Annand confined himself to the gentle observation that perhaps the reporting said more about the newspapers than about himself.
Annand married, in 1940, Shirley Osborne. They celebrated their Diamond Wedding Anniversary on November 9 2000. There were no children
Medal entitlement of Captain Richard Annand - 2nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
* Victoria Cross
* 1939 - 45 Star
* Defence Medal ( 1939-45 )
* War Medal ( 1939-45 )
* Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 )
* Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal ( 1977 )
* Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ( 2002 )
* Army Emergency Reserve Decoration ( ERD ) & Bar
Richard And Shirley Annand At Victoria Cross Celebration South Shields
Left To Right: Richard Wallace Annand, Jack (Siki) Watkins, Jim Miller