Thomas Fasti Dinesen VC

b. 09/08/1892 Rungsted, Denmark. d. 10/03/1979 Leerbaek, Denmark.

Thomas Fasti Dinesen (1892-1979) was born in Rungsted, Denmark, the son of Adolph Wilhelm Dinesen and Ingleborg Westenholz. He had a sister Karen, who would later become a famous author. After schooling, Thomas attended the Polytechnical School in Copenhagen, where he graduated as a civil engineer.

Thomas F Dinesen VC

On the outbreak of the First World War he unsuccessfully attempted to join the French Army, the British Army and the US Army. Thomas had been rejected by the Danish Royal Navy in 1916 due to injuries to his knee from a skiing accident but managed to pass the Canadian Expeditionary Force medical exam. In addition, he was an avowed atheist and felt he could not swear that he would serve King George V. He was able to join the kilted Black Watch by indicating that he was Presbyterian and against regulations swearing to be loyal to his regiment. Finally, whilst in New York, Dinesen was accepted by a Canadian Recruiting Office, and was drafted into the 42nd Battalion, Quebec Regiment ( Royal Highlanders of Canada ) in Montreal.

Private Dinesen earned the Victoria Cross as a result of his actions on 12th August 1918 in the first days of the Allied offensive known as the Battle of Amiens. On that day, his exertions over ten hours resulted in the capture of more than 1.5 kilometres of stubbornly defended German trenches at Parvillers. As well as engaging in hand-to-hand fighting, Dinesen rushed forward alone five times to put hostile machine guns out of action, killing 12 of the enemy. In recognition of Private Dinesen’s achievement, the French Government awarded him the Croix de Guerre, and he was commissioned as an officer in November 1918.

Thomas Dinesen resigned his commission in January 1919 and moved to British East Africa to help his sister, Karen Blixen ( of “Out of Africa ” fame) manage her coffee farm in the Ngong hills southwest of Nairobi. He designed and largely built the farm’s coffee-roasting plant. Early in 1923 he returned to Denmark. He combined farming on the family estate with a literary career. In 1929 he published the book “No Man’s Land: En Dansker Med Canadierne Ved Vestfronten. ” It was translated into English in 1930 under the title “Merry Hell! A Dane with the Canadians”. He describes his circuitous journey to enlistment in the C.E.F. and life on the Western Front as well as the events that saw him awarded the V.C.

Thomas Dinesen died on the 10th March 1979 in the town of Leerbaek in Denmark and is buried in the nearby Hoersholm Cemetery. His medals including the VC, British War Medal (1914-20), Victory Medal (1914-19), King George VI Coronation Medal (1937), Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal (1953), Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977), Knight, Order of Dannebrog (Denmark), Croix de Guerre (France), and Pro Benignitate Humana Medal (Finland) were acquired by the Lord Ashcroft Trust the holding institution for the Lord Ashcroft VC Collection in December 2013, and are now on display in the Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum.





Thomas Stewart – Image of the Dinesen Medal Group at the Imperial War Museum, and of the VC Stone in Churchill Park, Copenhagen.