Tales of Portsmouth heroism behind Pip, Squeak and Wilfred

Petty Officer Stoker 1st Class Sidney Albert Yeatman with his niece Emily Gasser in 1912.
Petty Officer Stoker 1st Class Sidney Albert Yeatman with his niece Emily Gasser in 1912.
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This is my final piece about the men of Portsmouth who went off to do their bit for King and Country in the First World War.

Every man who fought was awarded at least one medal. The most common were those known as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred. These were the 1914 Star, British War Medal and The Victory Medal.

Young lasses doing their bit. From the left, Wynne Brock and Dod and Lily Broughton sold their toys to help wounded soldiers in St Mary's Hospital, Milton.

Young lasses doing their bit. From the left, Wynne Brock and Dod and Lily Broughton sold their toys to help wounded soldiers in St Mary's Hospital, Milton.

The British War Medal and the Victory Medal together were nicknamed Mutt and Jeff.

Of course there were many who also won medals for their bravery but, if you think about it, were they not all brave men?

A very brave man indeed was Private A Buist who was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry.

While under extreme shelling a trench was blown in trapping several men under heaps of trench detritus, mud and dead bodies.

Private Buist made his way along the trench and with shells raining down he helped the survivors escape. Private Buist lived at 46, Aylesbury Road, Copnor.

Many families received medals after their loved-ones were killed in action. Such was the case of Petty Officer 1st Class Sidney Albert Yeatman.

He went down with HMS Invincible at the Battle of Jutland and his medals were sent his sister Emily Albertina Gasser.

Her husband was a Pompey Pal. Alfred Edward Gasser served with the 14/15th Hampshire Regiment.

He was severely wounded by shrapnel at Ploegsteert Wood and invalided home with Pip, Squeak and Wilfred to his name.

The Meritorious Service Medal was not an award obtained easily.

Corporal AE Penfold of 12, Blendworth Road, Milton, was awarded the MSM for bravery under fire.

Another who was awarded the MSM had a lot to live up to for his surname was Coward. Harry Coward lived at 61, Highgate Road, Copnor, and was a flight-sergeant in the RAF.

He first joined the RNAS (later the Fleet Air Arm) before joining the RAF. He was based at several aerodromes until 1919 when he was in Russia where he rendered excellent service.

Another Portsmouth man I am proud to mention is C Dryden who ended up as a captain in the Royal Horse Artillery.

He joined the ranks in 1898 and went off to France in 1914. He took part in the Retreat from Mons. He was also heavily involved in the battles of the Marne, the Aisne and Ypres.

He was severely wounded at Zonnebeke in November 1914 and sent home to recover. But as soon as he was well enough he was back in the thick of it on the Somme in 1916 and then again at Ypres.

Back on the Somme in 1917 he was wounded for a second time and again returned home where he spent nine months in Netley Military Hospital recuperating. Being an observer he was always in dangerous locations near the enemy front line.

He was discharged in 1919 having been awarded the DCM, Mons Star, General Service Medal, Victory Medal, Long Service Medal and Good Conduct Medal.

He returned to his home for a more peaceful life at 59, Shearer Road, Buckland.

Petty Officer John McGraw seems to have been a bit special.

He had joined the navy in 1897 and served with distinction in HM Ships Windsor and Stormcentre and the torpedo boat O42.

On September 2, 1919, he was awarded the Royal Humane Society’s medal for saving a fellow crew member under extreme difficulty.

When engaged in mine-sweeping duties off Zeebrugge he was awarded the DSM for conspicuous bravery and also mentioned in dispatches.

John lived at 9, Port Royal Street, Southsea.