Sergeant David Nelson VC


David Nelson was born at Darraghlan, Stranooden, Co Monaghan on 3 April 1886. He enlisted on 27 Dec 1904 and after a year’s course of education was posted to 98 Battery Royal Field Artillery. In April 1906 he was promoted to Acting Bombardier, and a year later posted to L Battery RHA. By Jan 1911 he was a Corporal and, 2 years later, was sent on a Short Gunnery Course at Shoeburyness. This earned him a 1st Class Gunnery Certificate and he was promoted to sergeant on 5 Aug 1914. Ten days later the battery was in France and he received his first war wound on 24 Aug. <> He took part in the famous action at Néry on 1 Sep 1914 where he and two others won the VC for remaining at their position until the ammunition ran out, and despite being ordered to retire. Their officer, Captain Bradbury died of his wounds and Sergeant Nelson, although severely wounded, survived, along with BSM Dorrell. Nelson was evacuated to a field hospital but was captured when Germans occupied the hospital. Later, when he managed to escape, he was treated in a French hospital and a piece of shrapnel removed from his lung.

His VC was gazetted on 16 Nov 1914 and on 13 Jan 1915 he was presented with the medal at Buckingham Palace, by King George V. At around this time he was married to Ada Bishop; they had a son, Victor. On 1 Mar 1915 he was appointed Gunnery Instructor at Shoeburyness until his return to France on 11 Dec 1917. During this time he was given a commission and promoted to acting Major. commanding a battery in Mar 1918. On 7 April 1918 he was mortally wounded, having received injuries all over his body. He died the next day, 8 April 1918. He was buried in Lillers Communal Cemetery. The photo shows him in khaki service dress in the rank of captain.


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by Stephen Luscombe