BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D. This is the second in a series of article that we are doing on our brothers in arms, who were our allies during World War ll in the
Pacific region. Alec George Horwood VC, DCM (6 January 1914 – 20 January 1944) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the
highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the
enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Horwood was 30 years old, and a lieutenant in the 1/6th Battalion, The
Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment, British Army, attached to 1st
Battalion, The Northamptonshire Regiment during the Second World War
when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.
Alec Horwood was born in South Deptford, London, on 6th January 1914.
He joined 6th Battalion, The Queen’s Royal Regiment at Bermondsey on 3rd April
1939 and was mobilized in the following September at the outbreak of
war. As a sergeant he was captured during the evacuation from Dunkirk
but escaped via Antwerp in 1940. For this very gallant escape he was
awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Commissioned on 28th December
1940, he was attached to 1st Battalion The Northamptonshire Regiment
and was serving with them in Burma when he was mortally wounded on
20th January 1944 and was buried at the Rest Home Kyauchaw, being
later reinterred in the War Cemetery at Imphal, India. His widow
received his Victoria Cross from HM King George VI at Buckingham
Palace on 4th December 1944.
His Citation reads:-
“At Kyauchaw on 18th January 1944, Lieutenant Horwood accompanied the
forward company of The Northamptonshire Regiment into action against a
Japanese defended locality with his forward mortar observation post.
Throughout that day he lay in an exposed position which had been
completely bared of cover by concentrated air bombing and effectively
shot his own mortars and those of a half troop of another unit while
the company was maneuvering to locate the exact position of the enemy
bunkers and machine-gun nests. During the whole of this time
Lieutenant Horwood was under intense sniper, machine-gun, and mortar
fire, and at night he came back with most valuable information about
On 19th January, he moved forward with another company and established
an observation post on a precipitous ridge. From here, while under
continual fire from the enemy, he directed accurate mortar fire in
support of two attacks which were put in during the day. He also
carried out a personal reconnaissance along and about the bare ridge,
deliberately drawing the enemy fire so that the fresh company which he
had led to the position, and which was to carry out an attack, might
see the enemy positions.
Lieutenant Horwood remained on the ridge during the night 19th-20th
January and on the morning of 20th January shot the mortars again to
support a fresh attack by another company put in from the rear of the
enemy. He was convinced that the enemy would crack and volunteered to
lead the attack planned for that afternoon. He led this attack with
such calm resolute bravery, that the enemy were reached and while
standing up in the wire, directing and leading the men with complete
disregard to the enemy fire which was then at point blank range, he
was mortally wounded.
By his fine example of leadership on the 18th, 19th and 20th January
when continually under fire, by his personal example to others of
reconnoitering, guiding and bringing up ammunition in addition to his
duties at the mortar observation post, all of which were carried out
under great physical difficulties and in exposed positions, this
officer set the highest example of bravery and devotion to duty which
all ranks responded to magnificently. The cool, calculated actions of
this officer, coupled with his magnificent bearing and bravery which
culminated in his death on the enemy wire, very largely contributed to
the ultimate success of the operation which resulted in the capture of
the position on the 24th January.
Date of Act of Bravery
18th-20th January 1944
Kyauchaw, Burma London Gazette
30th March 1944
Horwood is buried at the Rangoon Memorial Cemetery, Yangon, Burma,
(Now Miramar) His VC is on display in the Lord Ashcroft Gallery at the
Imperial War Museum, London.