b. 18/09/1883 Cranbrook, Kent. d. 07/01/1962 St Leonards, Sussex.
William Robert Fountaine Addison (1883-1962) was born on 16th September 1883 in North Warnborough, Hampshire. He was educated at Robert Mays School, Odiham, Hants, and as a young man worked as a lumberjack in Canada. After studying at Salisbury Theological College, he was ordained at the age of 30 in 1913 and, upon the outbreak of World War I, volunteered for the Army Chaplain’s Department.
He was posted to the 13th (Western) Division, a New Army formation which included the 6th (Service) Battalions of the East Lancashire, South Lancashire and Loyal North Lancashire Regiments, brigaded as part of the 38th (Lancashire) Infantry Brigade. He was with them when they landed at Basra, Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) in March 1916.
In April the Division was thrown into a disastrously muddled and failed attempt to relieve a besieged British garrison at Kut, contributing over 700 casualties in five days of unsuccessful fighting to the relief force’s 22,000.
On 9th April 1916 at Sanna-i-Yat, Mesopotamia, the Reverend William Addison carried a wounded man to the cover of a trench and helped several others to the same cover after binding up their wounds under heavy rifle and machine-gun fire. In addition to these unaided efforts, his splendid example and utter disregard of personal danger, encouraged the stretcher-bearers to go forward under heavy fire and collect the wounded.
He was invested with the VC by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 3rd August 1917. He married Miss Marjorie Wallis of Caterham at Christ Church Brighton and after the war decided to remain with the Army Chaplains Department rather than resume parochial duties. He attended the garden party given by the King for VC winners on June 26th 1920 and on November 11th of that year was privileged to be part of the VC Guard of Honour for the internment of the Unknown Soldier at Westminster Abbey. He was also present at the VC reunion dinner held in the House of Lords in November of 1929.
After the war William Addison continued as an army chaplain, serving in Malta, Khartoum and Shanghai, and at army bases in England. He was Senior Chaplain to the Forces from 1934 to 1938 when he left the army and became a parish priest. He was Rector of Coltishall with Great Hautbois, in Norfolk, from 1938 to 1958. However, on the outbreak of World War II he returned to the army and again served as Senior Chaplain to the Forces, and was Deputy Assistant Chaplain-General in South Wales.
He died on 7th January 1962, aged 78, in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, and is buried in Brookwood Cemetery, Woking. His grave was renovated by the Victoria Cross Trust in March 2015. In addition to his VC, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal ( 1914-20 ), Victory Medal ( 1914-19 ) + Mentioned in Despatches Oakleaf, War Medal ( 1939-45 ), King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 ), Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 ) and Order of St George ( 4th Class ) ( Russia ). His medals are still held by the Addison family.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: HELD BY FAMILY.
BURIAL PLACE: BROOKWOOD CEMETERY, WOKING, SURREY.
PLOT 22, GRAVE 220346
Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Map
Brian Drummond – image of the Freemason Memorial, London, and the VC Grove Board at Tunbridge Wells
Carol Pollard – VC Stone at Odiham, Hampshire
Steve Lee – Images of the Addison VC medal group display and medal card at Sarum College.