Private Thomas Ashford VC

Thomas Elsdon Ashford was born in 1859 at Newmarket in Suffolk and joined the army in 1877. He was with the 2nd Battalion Royal Fusiliers in Kandahar during the Afghan War of 1880. On 16th Aug a sortie was sent out of the city to engage with the Afghan tribesmen. At Deh Khoja, Lieutenant William Chase of the 28th Native Infantry, together with Thomas Ashford, rescued a wounded soldier and carried him 200 yards under enemy fire. They were compelled to rest several times but managed to bring him to safety. Both Ashford and Lt Chase won the VC which was gazetted on 7th Oct 1881. He was presented with the medal by Lord Roberts in Madras on 13th Dec 1881.

After his military service Thomas went to live in Thringstone, Leicestershire, and worked as a postman. He married Betsy Ann Sisson in 1891 and later moved to nearby Whitwick. He died at Skinners Lane, Whitwick on 21st Feb 1913. His grave was unmarked for 79 years until the British Legion provided a headstone in 1992. Three streets are named after him in Whitwick: Thomas Road, Elsdon Road, and Ashford Road.

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by Stephen Luscombe