b. 11/12/1883 Comber, Northern Ireland. d. 21/03/1918 near Grugies, France.
Edmund De Wind (1883-1918), son of Arthur and Margaret Jane De Wind (nee Stone), was born in Comber, Co Down, Ireland on 11th December 1883. He attended Campbell College before working for the Bank of Ireland and later emigrated to Canada in 1911. He was working for the Canadian Bank of Commerce in Edmonton when he enlisted into the 31st Battalion (Alberta), Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) on 16th November 1914. He fought with the CEF at St Eloi, Ypres and the Somme. He was discharged as a Private on 23rd September, following officer cadet training in England, and commissioned into The Royal Irish Rifles on 26th September 1917.
Second Lieutenant De Wind was serving with the 15th Battalion The Royal Irish Rifles in an area to the southwest of St Quentin when the Germans launched Operation MICHAEL, the first and main attack of their spring 1918 offensive.
On 21st March 1918, at the Race Course Redoubt, near Grugies, France, Edmund would perform his action which led to the VC. For seven hours he held this most important post, and though twice wounded and practically single-handed, he maintained his position until another section could be got to his help. On two occasions, with two NCO's only, he got out on top under heavy machine gun and rifle fire, and cleared the enemy out of the trench, killing many. He continued to repel attack after attack until he was mortally wounded and collapsed.
His body was never recovered and he is remembered on the Pozieres Memorial at the Somme. He was posthumously awarded the VC, one of three awarded to his Regiment in the Great War, on 15th May 1919. His medal was presented to his mother Margaret, by King George V, at Buckingham Palace on the 21st or 28th June 1919. Sadly, Edmund’s father had pre-deceased him in 1917. In Comber there is a street named after him and in Canada there is a mountain named 'Mount de Wind' in Alberta. A tablet to his memory can be found in Comber Parish Church.
After the War a large German gun was presented to the town as a memorial to him and was placed in the Square. During the Second World War the gun was removed for scrap metal to aid the production of munitions. However, metal plates from the side of the gun containing an inscription were preserved and are now in the porch of the Parish Church in the Square.
In March 2017 the Edmond de Wind Centenary Committee announced a major series of events in memory of the VC winner, to culminate in the unveiling in March 2018 of a dedicated memorial plinth. There is already an Ulster History Circle blue plaque in his honour located at Bridge Street Link in Comber and unveiled in 2007. His medals are not publicly held but a replica group is displayed by the Royal Ulster Rifles Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: POZIERES MEMORIAL, FRANCE. PANEL 74 TO 76
Edmund De Wind's medals including VC on display at the Royal Ulster Rifles Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Picture - Thomas Stewart).
Campbell College, Belfast
St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast
Service Record (Mark Sanders)
Medal Card (Mark Sanders)
Attestation Papers (Mark Sanders)
Campbell College, Belfast (Des Gordon)
Courtesy of Mark Campbell