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VICTORIA CROSS HEROES - 2nd Ltnt Denis George Wyldbore Hewitt (1897-1917)

Denis George Wyldbore Hewitt (1897-1917), Colourization by Claudia D'Souza

Portrait colorization of Denis George Wyldbore Hewitt (1897-1917), born at 103 Park Street, Mayfair, London on 18th December 1897. His father, the Honorable George Wyldbore Hewitt JP, was born in Ireland and was a tea planter. He married Elizabeth Mary Rampini in Calcutta, India in January 1891. The family later settled in Hampshire. Denis had a brother, Alan William Wingfield Hewitt born in 1900.

Denis was educated at The Old Malthouse School, Langton Matravers, near Swanage, Dorset and Winchester College from 1911-1915. When he applied for a commission on 5th May 1915 he was 6ft 1 inches tall and weighed 161 pounds. He trained at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst and was commissioned in 2nd Hampshire on 7th April 1916. He was attached to 14th Battalion and went to France in September 1916. He contracted tonsillitis in early 1917 and was found unfit for service for 2 weeks and recommended home leave.

On 31st July 1917 north-east of Ypres, Belgium, when his first objective had been captured, Second Lieutenant Hewitt reorganised his company and moved forward. Whilst waiting for the barrage to lift, he was hit by a piece of shell which exploded the signal lights in his haversack and set fire to his equipment and clothes. He extinguished the flames and then, despite his wound and severe pain, he led forward the remnants of the company under a very heavy machine-gun fire and captured and consolidated his objective. He was subsequently killed by a sniper while inspecting the consolidation and encouraging his men.

original portrait

Denis’ body was not recovered after the battle, and he is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres. The location of his grave was recorded as 150 yards west of the St Julien to Poelcapelle road. As he never married, his VC was presented to his parents by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 19th December 1917. Most of his personal effects were recovered by Sergeant Skinner, Lance Corporal Harding and Private Sparks, but some items were lost. Sergeant Skinner returned a ring and watch personally to his father, who tried to recover a missing cigarette case and some papers, but without success. As he was legally a minor, he left no will and died intestate. In addition to his VC, he was also awarded the British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal 1914-19.


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