b. 16/08/1885 Great Limber, Lincolnshire. d. 04/11/1918 Kantara, Egypt.
Samuel Needham (1885-1918) was born on 16th August 1885 at Great Limber, North Lincolnshire, west of Grimsby. He was the son of Septimus and Mary (nee Quickfall) of Little Limber Grange, Brocklesby, and was orphaned at just 10-years-old when his parents died of typhoid fever within a month of each other in February and March 1886. Septimus was only in his mid 50s and he and Mary were buried in Scartho Road Cemetery, Grimsby. At the time of his death, Septimus was listed as a “carriage owner and driver.” He had previously been an agricultural labourer.
He was educated at Macaulay Street School and later worked for Lord Yarborough on his estate at Brocklesby. He later worked for the Duke of Westminster. From local records, the family moved to and lived in Grimsby from 1885 to 1896. Samuel may have possibly worked as a miner in Hull, and from there enlisted in the Army Service Corps on 14th December 1914.
Needham was transferred after 20 months’ service to the Bedfordshire Regiment in mid 1916, and left for Egypt in January 1917. He served in the Palestine Campaign from 1917-1918, and like others, he had no leave during his service.
On 10th/11th September 1918 at Kefr Kasim, Palestine, one of our patrols was attacked by the enemy in considerable force, supported by very heavy fire. At a critical moment Private Needham ran back, turned to face a fresh body of the enemy which was approaching and fired rapidly at about 40 Turks at only 30 yards range. This action checked the enemy and just gave the patrol commander time to get his men together again. Half of the patrol were casualties, but they managed to get back all their wounded. Private Needham's action in standing up to the enemy all alone did much to inspire the men and undoubtedly saved the situation.
A few days after the Turkish surrender on 31st October 1918, Private Needham died of an accidental gunshot wound on 4th November 1918 at Kufr Qasim. He was buried in Kantara War Cemetery, Kantara, Egypt.
His VC was presented to one of his six sisters by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 13th February 1919. In 1956, Mrs Baron, a sister, presented her brother’s VC to the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment at a special ceremony. The event was attended by three living VCs: Tom Adlam VC, Alexander Burt VC and Christopher Cox VC. The VC is held in the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regimental Museum, Wardown Park, Luton.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: BEDS/HERTS RGT MUSEUM, LUTON, BEDFORDSHIRE.
BURIAL PLACE: KANTARA WAR MEMORIAL CEMETERY, KANTARA, EGYPT.
Samuel Needham's medals at the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Museum, Wardown Park, Luton.
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
ROW E, GRAVE 181
St Peter's Church, Great Limber, Lincolnshire (Mick Brand)