Edward Colquhoun Charlton

Edward Colquhoun Charlton

Edward Colquhoun Charlton VC (June 15, 1920- April 21, 1945) 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.

He was 24 years old, and a Guardsman in the 2nd Battalion, Irish Guards, British Army during the Second World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 21 April 1945 at Wistedt, Germany, Guardsman Charlton was a co-driver of one tank of a troop which, with a platoon of infantry, captured the village. The Germans soon attempted to re-take the village with numerically superior forces, which largely consisted of officer cadets under the command of their very experienced instructor officers as well as two or three self-propelled guns. Three of the four tanks of the small Irish Guards force were badly hit, the fourth (Charlton's) being disabled by a complete electrical failure before the action started. When the tank was disabled, Guardsman Charlton was ordered to dismount the turret 0.50 Browning machine gun and support the infantry.

Charlton, on his own authority, as the Irish Guards became increasingly in danger of being over-run by the Germans, took the machine gun and advanced in full view of the attacking Germans, firing the weapon from his hip as he did so and inflicting heavy casualties on the Germans, halting the lead company and allowing the rest of the Guards a brief respite to reorganise and retire. He continued his bold attack, even when he was wounded in his left arm. Charlton managed to find the strength to place the machine-gun on a fence where he launched a further attack before his left arm was completely shattered by further enemy fire. Charlton, now with just one arm, carried on his astonishing attack until a further wound and loss of blood resulted in the Guardsman collapsing. His courageous and selfless disregard for his own safety helped save the precarious situation that the Irish Guards faced. He later died of the wounds he had received. He was awarded the posthumous VC, it was the last Victoria Cross of the European theatre, and the last, so far, of the Irish Guards. Unusually much of the citation was based on German accounts of the fight as most of his later actions were not witnessed by any of the Guards officers or surviving non-commissioned officers.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the The Guards Regimental Headquarters (Irish Guards RHQ) "(London, England)".


*British VCs of World War 2 (John Laffin, 1997)
*Monuments to Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
*The Register of the Victoria Cross (This England, 1997)
*"Europe's Last VC - Guardsman Edward Charlton", "After The Battle" (magazine) No. 49, 1985. Contains additional memoirs of the surviving Irish Guards officers and men and German officers which correct the original citation.

External links

* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=10521285 Find-A-Grave profile for Edward Colquhoun Charlton]

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