Philip Neame

Philip Neame

Born (1888-12-12)12 December 1888Faversham, Kent
Died 28 April 1978(1978-04-28) (aged 89)Selling, Kent
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch [2] British Army
Years of service 1908–1947
Rank Lieutenant General
Unit Royal Engineers
Commands held *Royal Military Academy, Woolwich*Military Governor of Cyrenaica
Battles/wars World War I
Awards *Victoria Cross*Order of the British Empire
Other work Olympic gold medallist

Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey

Lieutenant General Sir Philip Neame VC, KBE, CB, DSO, KStJ (12 December 1888 – 28 April 1978) was a British Army officer and recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He was also the winner of an Olympic Gold medal, making him the only person to win both this and the Victoria Cross.

Neame was born in Faversham and died in Selling. He was educated at Cheltenham College.


[hide] *1 World War I

[edit] World War IEdit

Neame joined the Royal Engineers in 1908.[1] He saw service with the 15th Field Company, Royal Engineers, during the First World War. Early in the war at the First Battle of Ypres on October 1914 Neame experienced first hand in the trenches the inadequacies of the official British issue hand-grenades against the German standard and set about creating an alternative. Royal Engineers started devising home-made hand grenades made from empty jam tins filled with rivets, hobnails and loose metal. The explosive was usually two small bits of gun-cotton with a detonator and the necessary bit of fuse projecting from the end of the jam tin. Under the leadership of Neame, Royal Engineer sappers were kept busy in the first winter of World War I manfucturing as many as were needed.[2]

[edit] Victoria CrossEdit

Neame was 26 years old, and a lieutenant in the 15th Field Company, Corps of Royal Engineers, when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross: On 19 December 1914 at Neuve Chapelle, France, Lieutenant Neame, in the face of very heavy fire, engaged the Germans in a single-handed bombing attack, killing and wounding a number of them. He was able to check the enemy advance for three-quarters of an hour and to rescue all the wounded whom it was possible to move.[3] Neame was interviewed at length on the action for the book "Forgotten Voices". He had been asked by the Commanding Officer of a frontline infantry battalion – West Yorkshire Regiment – to go forward and strengthen the defences in a recently captured German trench. "When I got there I saw the officer in command who said the Germans were counter-attacking with bombs, that his own bombers had all been wounded and that the bombs that were left would not go off. So I went up to talk to one of the remaining bombers...and discovered that he could not light our own bombs because there were no fuses left." Neame knew how to light a grenade by holding a match-head on the end of the fuse and striking a match box across it. He got to the front and commenced lighting and throwing grenades into the German trenches in the two different directions of the German counter-attack. Neame held the trench for forty-five minutes whilst the West Yorks evacuated their wounded back to the previous British frontline trench.[4]


Neame was Mentioned in Dispatches in February 1915 & again in January 1916. (Medal index cards, National Archive, Kew, Surrey).

In February 1916 he was appointed Brigade Major to 168th (Infantry) Brigade, 56th (London) Division, Territoral Force, staffing this post through the Somme offensive, including the actions at Gommecourt 1.7.1916 & Leuze Wood 9 September 1916, until relinquishing it for another Staff assignment in November 1916. ('The 56th Division', appendix, by D. Ward, Pub. 1921)

Neame received further Mentions in Dispatches in January 1917, & December 1917.

Olympic medalist
Medal record
Men’s Shooting
Gold 1924 Paris [,_double_shots Team running deer, double shots


[edit] OlympianEdit

He was a member of Great Britain's 1924 Olympic Running Deer team at Paris and is the only Victoria Cross recipient who has won an Olympic Gold Medal. The Running Deer competition was one of the shooting events at the games. It involved teams of four (firing single shots), where a moving target simulated the animal.

[edit] Inter-war periodEdit

Neame was appointed Brigade Major of an Infantry Brigade at Aldershot in 1924 and then saw service in India with the Bengal Sappers and Miners from 1925 before attending the Imperial Defence College in 1930.[1] He became a General Staff Officer in the Waziristan District in India in 1932 before becoming a Brigadier-General with Eastern Command in India in 1934 and then returned to England as Commandant of the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich in 1938.[5]

[edit] World War IIEdit

Neame later achieved the rank of lieutenant-general. In 1941 during the North African Campaign he was named commander of all Empire troops in Cyrenaica following its capture during Operation Compass.[1] Neame's command had been stripped of much of its battle-experienced units either for re-fitting or to take part in the Battle of Greece. Lacking accurate intelligence and hampered by over-extended lines of supply, he directed his primarily English and Australian troops to continually fall back in the face of probing attacks from the newly introduced Panzer Group Africa under the command of General Erwin Rommel. The newly fielded British 2nd Armoured Division, recently arrived from Britain, was under-strength, lacking training and equipment adapted for desert conditions. It proved no match for Rommel's forces. While navigating to newly established headquarters following one such withdrawal Neame along with Lieutenant-General Richard O'Connor, were captured by a German patrol.[1] While a prisoner in Italy, first at Villa Orsini near Sulmona, then at Castello di Vincigliata PG12 near Florence where he helped with a number of escape attempts with colleagues, including O'Connor, Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart, a fellow VC recipient, and Brigardiers John Combe and Edward Todhunter. After the successful escape of six officers through Neame's tunnel in April 1943, in which two New Zealander Brigadiers James Hargest and Reginald Miles made it successfully to Switzerland. In reprisals the Italians sent his batman Gunner Pickford, (Royal Horse Artillery), to another camp.[6] Following the Italian Armistice in September 1943, Neame eventually made a successful escape with Air Marshal Owen Boyd and Richard O'Connor, together with all officers and men. [3][4]Neame (centre), Brigadier John Combe (left), and Major-General Michael Gambier-Parry (right) following their capture in North Africa.Neame served as Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey from 1945 to 1953.[1]

Philip Neame was the nephew of a founding father of the Kent-based Shepherd Neame brewing dynasty, the oldest in Kent.

[edit] The medalEdit

His Victoria Cross is displayed with his other medals at the Imperial War Museum, London, England. [5][6]Neame's medal collection at the Imperial War Museum.==[edit] References==

[edit] BibliographyEdit

  • Playing with Strife, The Autobiography of a Soldier, Lt-Gen. Sir Philip Neame, V.C., K.B.E., C.B., D.S.O., George G Harrap & Co. Ltd, 1947.
  • Farewell Campo 12, Brigadier James Hargest, C.B.E., D.S.O. M.C., Michael Joseph Ltd, 1945.
  • Happy Odyssey, Lt-Gen. Sir Carton De Wiart,V.C.,K.B.E.,C.M.G.,D.S.O., Jonathan Cape Ltd, 1950, in PAN paperback 1956, re-printed by Pen & Sword Books 2007 ISBN 1-84415-539-0
  • MI9 Escape & Evasion 1939–45, M.R.D. Foot & J.M Langley, The Bodley Head, 1979.
  • To War with Whitaker, The wartime diaries of The Countess of Ranfurly 1939 -1945, William Heinemann Ltd, London 1994 ISBN 0-434-00224-0
  • Monuments To Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
  • The Register of the Victoria Cross (This England, 1997)
  • The Sapper VCs (Gerald Napier, 1998)
  • VCs of the First World War - 1914 (Gerald Gliddon, 1994)
  • Forgotten Voices of the Great War, Max Arthur 2002, Ebury Press.

[edit] FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  2. ^ Forgotten Voices,p43
  3. ^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29074. p. 1700. 16 February 1916. Retrieved 29 November 2009.
  4. ^ Forgotten Voices,p52
  5. ^ Army Commands
  6. ^ Neame pp259, 288

[edit] External linksEdit

Military offices
Preceded by

Arthur Goschen

Commandant of the Royal Military Academy Woolwich


Succeeded by

College Disbanded

Preceded by

Sir Maitland Wilson

Military Governor of Cyrenaica

27 February 1941 – 7 April 1941

Succeeded by

Post Disbanded

Government offices
Preceded by

Charles Gage Stuart (British Military Government)

Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey


Succeeded by

Sir Thomas Elmhirst

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