b. 29/07/1894 East Ham, London. d. 31/01/1977 Bishopsteighton, Devon.
Edgar Kinghorn Myles (1894-1977) was born on 23th July 1894 at ‘Brooklyn’, 147 Milton Avenue, East Ham. He went to Shrewsbury Road Board School and then on to East Ham Technical College, which later became East Ham Grammar School. His first job was as a junior clerk with the Port of London Authority.
A keen member of the Boys’ Brigade, he resigned from the East Ham Company of the Brigade in 1912 and then moved with his family to 2 Lake House Road, Wanstead.In August 1914 he joined the 8th Battalion of the Welsh Regiment, and was later promoted to Second Lieutenant. Throughout the First World War he actually served with the 9th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment, fighting with them in the Gallipoli campaign and other actions before he was awarded his Victoria Cross at Sanna-i-Yat in Mesopotamia (present day Iraq).
Mesopotamia was part of the Ottoman Empire. British and Indian troops went to the Persian Gulf in early November 1914 to protect British oil interests. They swiftly moved further inland, moving along the River Tigris in order to capture Baghdad. This rapid progress was halted at the Battle of Ctesiphon (22-26 November 1915). More than half the 8,500 British and Indian troops were killed or wounded in the battle and the survivors had to retreat.
Next year at Sanna-i-Yat, while attempting to relieve the town of Kut, Edgar’s bravery led to the award of his Victoria Cross on 9th April 1916. Aged just 21, he went out alone, under heavy fire, on several occasions to assist wounded men lying in the open. He carried a wounded officer to a safe place and was hit by enemy fire whilst carrying a wounded man, but managed to carry on and bring him back to safety.
Later on, after being promoted to acting Captain, Edgar won the Distinguished Service Order on 25th January 1917. This is awarded during wartime for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed services, usually in combat. He was also wounded in this action. He was also twice mentioned in despatches, which means that his actions were regarded as particularly brave or meritorious. After the war Edgar was formally transferred to the Worcestershire Regiment with which he had actually served during the war. In 1923 he was transferred to the King’s Liverpool Regiment and was promoted to Captain two years later. He retired from the Army in 1928.
He married in 1947 at Hatfield aged 53, though years later he was found destitute living in a converted railway carriage accompanied only by a dog. He was admitted to the Huntley Royal British Legion Home in Bishopsteighton, Devon where he died aged 82 on 31st January 1977. He was cremated at Torquay Crematorium and his ashes were scattered.
In November 1960 his decorations and medals were bought by the Worcestershire Regiment and are now on display in the Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum. On 11 April 2016 a commemorative paving stone honouring Edgar Myles was laid in the Cenotaph area of Central Park, East Ham.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: WORCESTERSHIRE REGIMENTAL MUSEUM, WORCESTER.
BURIAL PLACE: TORQUAY CREMATORIUM, TORQUAY, DEVON.
Edgar Myles' medals including VC and DSO on display at the Worcestershire Regimental Museum, Worcester (February 2013)
Central Park Cenotaph, East Ham
War Illustrated, 14th October 1916
Freemasons Memorial, London (Brian Drummond)