|Basil Arthur Horsfall was born in Ceylon on 4th October 1887. He was appointed to a commission in the East Lancashire Regiment in December 1916, and was wounded by friendly fire while serving with the 1st Battalion at Rouex on 11th May 1917. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty with the 11th Battalion at Ayette on 27th March 1918. 2/Lt. Horsfall has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial.
Left: Basil Arthur Horsfall VC. Photograph by kind courtesy of the Lancashire Infantry Museum.
The citation for the award of the Victoria Cross was published in Supplement 30697 of the London Gazette dated 21st May 1918:
For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. 2nd Lt. Horsfall was in command of the centre platoon during an attack on our positions.
When the enemy first attacked his three forward sections were driven back and he was wounded in the head. Nevertheless, he immediately organised the remainder of his men and made a counter-attack, which recovered his original positions. On hearing that out of the remaining three officers of his company two were killed and one wounded, he refused to go to the dressing station, although his wound was severe. Later his platoon had to be withdrawn to escape very heavy shell fire, but immediately the shelling lifted he made a second counter-attack and again recovered his positions. When the order to withdraw was given he was the last to leave his position, and, although exhausted, said he could have held on if it had been necessary.
His conduct was a splendid example to his men, and he showed throughout the utmost disregard of danger.
This very gallant officer was killed when retiring to the positions in rear.
On 4th August 2013, exactly one year before the centenary of the outbreak of war between Great Britain and Germany, the British government announced a plan to provide commemorative paving stones to councils representing the home towns of Victoria Cross recipients. It was soon pointed out that the proposal would exclude those born outside of the United Kingdom, and on 22 September it was reported that the government would widen the scheme to include any VC recipient with "ties" in the UK.
|The widening of the scheme prompted me on the same day to suggest that Hyndburn Borough Council should acquire a stone to commemorate Basil Arthur Horsfall in Accrington. The suggestion was taken up by Cllr. Miles Parkinson, Leader of Hyndburn Borough Council, and the stone was laid in front of the memorial on Church Street on 27th March 2018, exactly 100 years after the action for which Horsfall was awarded the VC.
Right: Commemorative paving stone, Church Street, Accrington.
© Andrew C Jackson 2000, 2008, 2018