b. 28/07/1893 Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire. d. 22/11/1947 Frome, Somerset
Wilfred Dolby Fuller (1893-1947) was born at East Kirkby (Kirkby-in-Ashfield), Nottinghamshire on 28th July 1893. His father was Walter Frederick Fuller, a coal miner and later a night pit deputy. His mother was Sarah Ann nee Dolby, a servant. They were married in 1883 in Basford, Nottinghamshire. Wilfred had three brothers and two sisters. The family moved around whilst he was a child, and by 1907, they were living in Mansfield.
Wilfred was educated at local schools. He was a keen footballer, a bugler in the Mansfield Cadet Corps, a member of the Warsop Vale Church Choir and the Mansfield St Lawrence Bible Class. He was teetotal and did not smoke. He was employed as a pony driver at Warsop Vale Colliery and later at Crown Farm Colliery, Mansfield.
He enlisted on 30th December 1911 and was on the Regimental Police staff at Wellington Barracks, London in 1914. He went to France on 8th November to join the 1st Battalion. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in December. On the 12th March 1915 at Neuve Chapelle, France, Lance-Corporal Fuller saw a party of the enemy trying to escape along a communication trench. He ran towards them and killed the leading man with a bomb; the remainder (nearly 50) seeing no means of evading his bombs, all surrendered to him. Lance-Corporal Fuller was quite alone at the time.
He was gazetted on 19th April 1915, and the following day received a public reception in Mansfield where he was presented with a gold watch and an illuminated address by the Mayor on 3rd June. He was presented with his VC by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 4th June. He was also awarded the Cross of the Order of St Georgee, 3rd Class (Russia) on 25th August 1915. This was presented to him by King George V at No 3 Northern General Hospital, Sheffield on 29th September 1915.
Wilfred married Helena May nee Wheeler on 13th March 1916 in London. She was a nurse at the Military Orthopaedic Hospital in Hammersmith and gained his attention by packing him with a hatpin from behind at Victoria Palace Music Hall. They had two daughers, Doris (born in 1917) and Beatrice (born in 1919). They later adopted a son.
Wilfred was appointed Acting Corporal in mid 1916, but was discharged on 31st October unfit for further service. He returned to work in the colliery, but could not continue due to his health. From the autumn of 1917 he became a checker in the yard of a tramway company at Weston Super Mare, but as men were demobilised and returned after the war he lost his job. In 1919 he became a Somerset policeman and served at Milverton, llminster, Clevedon and Nunney. His last post was at Rodden Road Police Station, near Frome. He retired due to ill health in July 1940.
He died at “Far End”, Styles Hill, Rodden, near Frome, Somerset on 22nd November 1947 and was buried in Christ Church Churchyard, Frome. In addition to his VC, he was awarded the 1914 Star with Mons clasp, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, George VI Coronation Medal 1937 and the Russian Cross of the Order of St George, 3rd Class. His medals were sold to benefit the children and grandchildren at Glendinning’s on 20th March 1974, raising £2,600. They were sold again at Sotheby’s on 18th December 1991 and are held by the Guards Museum, Wellington Barracks, London.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: GRENADIER GUARDS RHQ, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: CHRIST CHURCH, FROME, SOMERSET.
Thomas Stewart – Image of the Fuller VC group at the Guards Museum, London.