b. 17/08/1892 Canning Town, East London. d. 28/03/1918 Arras, France.
Bernard Matthew Cassidy (1892-1918), was born in Canning Town, East London on 17th August 1892, one of six children born to Bernard and Julia Cassidy, and the family had Irish roots. One of Bernard’s brothers, John also died in World War One, and was a recipient of the Military Cross. Bernard lived the majority of his life in Canning Town, living firstly at 23, Fife Road, and then at 29, Watford Road.
Bernard enlisted in 1915 and joined the 2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers as part of A Company. His brother, John was in 1st Battalion. Bernard was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant prior to the VC action in the middle of the German Spring Offensive of 1918.
On 28th March 1918 at Arras, France, at a time when the flank of the division was in danger, Second Lieutenant Cassidy was in command of the left company of his battalion. He had been given orders to hold on to the position at all costs and he carried out this instruction to the letter. Although the enemy came in overwhelming numbers he continued to rally and encourage his men, under terrific bombardment until the company was eventually surrounded and he was killed.
Sadly, his body was never recovered following the battle, and he is commemorated on the Arras Memorial to the Missing. His posthumous VC was announced in the London Gazette on 3rd May 1918, and the medal was presented to his mother, Julia, on 26th June 1918 at Buckingham Palace by King George V. His medal was not in public ownership for a number of years, before in 2002, it was purchased in a private sale by Michael Ashcroft and forms part of the Aschroft Collection in the Imperial War Museum, London.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM.
BURIAL PLACE: NO KNOWN GRAVE - ON ARRAS MEMORIAL, FRANCE. BAY 5
East Ham Cenotaph