b. 27/10/1884 Bampton, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. d. 25/09/1915 Hulluch, France.
Anketell Moutray Read (1884-1915) was born at Beaumont House (now a hotel), 56 Shurdington Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire on 27th October 1884. His father was John Moutray Read, who originally came from Ireland. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Queen’s Royal Antrim Rifle Regiment of Militia on 20th September 1859 and became an ensign by purchase in the 13th Foot on 21st December 1860. He was promoted by purchase to Lieutenant on 30th June 1865 and Captain on 24th September 1870. He retired as a Colonel in 1894. His mother was Edith Isabella nee Johnson, who was born in India. John and Edith were married in South Stoneham, Hampshire in 1870. They had five other children besides Anketell, two brothers (Beresford and Hugh) and three sisters (Rose, Edith and Ina).
Anketell was educated at Glengarth Preparatory School in Cheltenham and the United Services College at Westward Ho! 1898-1902, where he was an officer in the Cadet Corps. The College was attended by five other VCs. He trained at the Royal Military College Sandhurst 1901-1903 and was commissioned in the Gloucestershire Regiment on 21st November 1903. He served in India for eight years and was promoted to Lieutenant in 1906. He transferred to 7th Hariana Lancers on 12th July 1907 and served at Quetta until November 1908, then at Jacobabad and from February 1911 at Ferozepore. He transferred to the Northamptonshire Regiment on 7th September 1911. Having gained the Royal Aero Club Aviator’s Certificate in 1912, he was attached to the RFC from 1913-1914.
In India, he was the Army heavyweight boxing champion eight times and middleweight twice. He was also the Army and Navy Heavyweight Champion in 1909 and 1911 and the Light Heavyweight Champion in 1912. Anketell went to France on 12th August 1914 and was attached to 9th Lancers. Having been wounded on the Aisne in September 1914, he was promoted to Captain on 14th March 1915 and returned to 1st Northamptonshire Regiment in France on 29th May. He was noted for his courage on a number of occasions. On the night of 29th/30th July 1915, he rescued a mortally wounded officer under very heavy rifle and grenade fire. He also showed conspicuous bravery during digging operations on 29th-31st August.
On 25th September 1915 near Hulluch, France, Captain Read, although partially gassed, went out several times in order to rally parties of different units which were disorganised and retiring. He led them back into the firing line and regardless of danger to himself, moved about under withering fire, encouraging them, but he was mortally wounded while carrying out this gallant work. He was buried in Dud Corner Cemetery, Loos.
As he never married, the VC was presented to his mother by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 29th November 1916. In addition to the VC, he was awarded the 1914 Star with “Mons” clasp, British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal 1914-19. His VC is held by the Northamptonshire Regimental Museum, Abington Park, Northampton. The location of his other medals are not known.
LOCATION OF MEDAL:NORTHAMPTONSHIRE REGIMENT MUSEUM, NORTHAMPTON.
BURIAL PLACE: DUD CORNER CEMETERY, LOOS, FRANCE.
Anketell Read's medal is held by the Northamptonshire Regimental Museum. Picture courtesy of Northants Telegraph.
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT VII, ROW F, GRAVE 19
Bampton Church, Devon
Cheltenham War Memorial
Beaumont House, Cheltenham
VC Stone picture courtesy of Mark Sanders
War Illustrated, 4th December 1915
Read's VC action picture courtesy of Mark Sanders
The Regiment's War Diary (Mark Sanders)
Haileybury College (Paul Deeprose)