b. 13/10/1894 Nottingham. d. 16/03/1982 Goring on Thames, Oxfordshire.
Charles Geoffrey Vickers (1894-1982) was born in Nottingham on 13th October 1894. His father was Charles Henry Vickers, Director of Messrs Vickers & Hine, Lace Manufacturers. When he died in 1925, he left £10,771 to his son Charles. His mother was Jessie Anna nee Lomas, and they married in 1882 in Leicester. Charles had two siblings: Jessie Margaret and William Burnell.
Charles was educated at Oundle School from 1908-1912, where he played rugby and was a member of the Officer Training Corps. From January to March 1913 he studied German and went up to Merton College, Oxford in October, where he played rugby for the college and was also a member of the OTC. He was commissioned on 2nd September 1914 and went to France on 28th February 1915. He was appointed acting Captain on 29th August.
On 14th October 1915, he held a barrier across a trench in the Hohenzollern Redoubt, France against heavy German bomb attacks (the ‘bombs’ of the citation were early grenades) ordering a second barrier to be built behind him in order to secure the safety of the trench regardless of the fact that his own retreat would be cut off holding back the enemy for long enough for a second barrier to be completed.
He was evacuated to England with his wounds. The VC was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 15th January 1916. While recovering he served with a reserve Battalion from 1st June and was appointed Temporary Captain on 30th July. He returned to 1/7th Battalion in France on 23rd September. He then returned to England and became a company commander at No 19 Officer Cadet Battalion, Pirbright on 20th February 1917 and was graded as a staff captain while commanding a company within the Officer Cadet Battalion 5th May 1917 to 6th January 1918.
Charles married Helen Tregoning nee Newton on 21st March 1918 at St Andrew’s Church, Haverstock Hill, London. They had two children: Pamela Tregoning Vickers and Douglas Burnell Horsey Vickers. Charles returned to France as acting Major and 2IC of 1st Lincolnshire from April to November 1918. He was awarded the French Croix de Guerre in the defence of the Marne in June 1918.
While completing a degree in French, European History and Law at Oxford (BA & MA 1921), he also served in 4th Leicestershire (TF) from July 1920. He transferred to 7th Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire on transfer to the TA Reserve on 29th April 1922. Charles qualified as a solicitor in 1923 and became a partner in Slaughter and May from 1926 to 1946. His marriage to Helen was dissolved in 1934 and he married Ethel Ellen nee Tweed on 25th June 1935 in London. They had a son, Hugh, born on 24th June 1939. Charles was granted a Regular Army Emergency Commission in the Sherwood Foresters and later the RAOC as a Lieutenant in June 1940.
He held several positions in the Foreign Office during World War II, and was a member of the Joint Intelligence Committee from 1941-1945. He resigned his commission and was granted the rank of Major from September 1944. Charles was knighted for his services as Director General of the Economic Intelligence Division of the Foreign Office in January 1946. He was also awarded the American Medal of Freedom with Gold Palm.
He was also a prolific author on a number of topics. He died at The Grange, Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire on 16th March 1982 and was cremated at Oxford Crematorium, where his ashes were scattered. In addition to his VC, and his knighthood, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oak leaf, Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45, George VI Coronation Medal 1937, Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953, Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal 1977, French Croix de Guerre, and Medal of Freedom with Gold Palm. His medals are held by the Sherwood Foresters Museum, Nottingham Castle.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: SHERWOOD FORESTERS MUSEUM, NOTTINGHAM.
BURIAL PLACE: HEADINGTON CREMATORIUM, OXFORD.
ASHES SCATTERED IN SECTION A-1.
Mark Jones – Image of the Vickers VC Medal Group at the Sherwood Foresters Museum, Nottingham.