b. 17/05/1912 London. d. 24/05/1940 Arras, France.
Christopher Furness (1912-1940) was born in London on 17th May 1912, the son of Marmaduke Furness, 1st Viscount Furness, and his wife, Ada Daisy (nee Hogg). His father hailed from the North East, being born in West Hartlepool, and his mother also hailed from the area being born in Seaton Carew. They married in Hartlepool on 11th January 1904, and their daughter, and Christopher’s only sibling, Averill was born on 22nd July 1908. By the 1911 Census, the family were living in the West Riding of Yorkshire, at a property called The Manor in Cundall. The family were obviously wealthy as Marmaduke’s occupation was listed as “private means”. They also had eight servants.
In 1921, Christopher’s mother died in an accident at sea off Cadiz, Spain. Following his private schooling, Christopher enlisted with the 2nd Battalion, Welsh Guards and was commissioned as a Lieutenant. During the period 17th–24th May 1940 near Arras, France, Lieutenant Furness commanded the Carrier Platoon when his battalion formed part of the garrison of the town.
On 23rd May the platoon was ordered to cover the withdrawal of the transport (over 40 vehicles) to Douai. Early on 24 May the enemy were advancing along the road where the transport columns were moving and Lieutenant Furness decided to attack. He reached the enemy position under heavy fire and when the light tanks and all the carriers and their crews had become casualties he engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat until he was killed. His fight against hopeless odds made the enemy withdraw temporarily and enabled the vehicles and survivors to get clear.
Sadly, Christopher’s body was not recovered and he is commemorated on the Dunkirk Town Cemetery Memorial, Dunkirk, France. Furness’ medals including the VC, 1939-45 Star and Defence Medal 1939-45 are held on loan by the Welsh Guards RHQ, Wellington Barracks, London.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: WELSH GUARDS RHQ, LONDON (ON LOAN)
BURIAL PLACE: DUNKIRK TOWN CEMETERY, DUNKIRK, FRANCE – COLUMN 34.
Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Map