Hundreds turn out in tribute to Moray war hero

The tablet laid on Sunday and Cpl Anderson (right) with his company commander.

Around 200 villagers gathered in Dallas on Sunday to mark the 100th anniversary of the day a Moray war hero earned the Victoria Cross.

The villagers were joined by 30 descendants of Corporal William Anderson, who was born in the village and educated at Forres Academy before moving away from Moray to seek a career as a tram conductor in Glasgow.

Mr Anderson moved on to England before enlisting in the Army on a seven-year engagement with the 2nd Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment as a 23-year-old in 1905. He went on to serve in India, Egypt and South Africa and had attained the rank of Corporal by the outbreak of war in 1914.

By March 1915 he had already seen action at Flanders and the first battle of Ypres. It was on March 12 that Cpl Anderson was involved in an action that led to his being awarded the Victoria Cross, with one account saying: “Explosions, shouts and screams were heard for some time.

“The next time the wounded bombers saw the Corporal was when he herded 60 German prisoners back to D Company position. He had virtually cleared the enemy strong point single handed.”

Sadly after leading another attack Cpl Anderson was never seen again.

His VC citation read: “For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty at Neuve Chapelle on March 12, 1915, when he led three men with bombs against a large party of the enemy who had entered our trenches, and by his prompt and determined action saved what might otherwise have become a serious situation.

“Corporal Anderson first threw his own bombs, then those in possession of his three men (who had been wounded) amongst the Germans; after which he opened rapid fire upon them with great effect, notwithstanding that he was at the time quite alone.”

On Sunday a tablet was laid at the Dallas War Memorial to commemorate the village’s famous son. Because Mr Anderson had moved with his family from the village to Forres at a young age, his name appears only on the Forres war memorial.

Following Sunday’s ceremony Mr Anderson’s grant-niece Bunty McMahon told the P&J: “It’s a wonderful turnout, the people here are so hospitable.

“We did not know a lot about him, all we knew was that he was granny’s brother and that he won a Victoria Cross. You always wished you had asked more questions of your grandparents and relatives as a youngster before they are gone.”

A full and detailed account of Corporal Anderson’s story can be found on the Scotland’s War website.

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