Special Constable John Alexander Christie who won a VC

A Cheshire officer was awarded the Victoria Cross for “conspicuous bravery” after he made a solo 50-yard dash to bomb the enemy, during the First World War
Prior to this brave act, he had endured being wounded in the head by shrapnel, and  a 100-mile march across the Sinai desert, where he suffered severe sunstroke.

The highest award for gallentry

The VC is the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Between 1914 and 1918, there were only 628 recipients.
Special Constable John Alexander Christie VC was born in May 1895. He joined the London and North Western Railway Company (L&NWR) after leaving school and worked at Euston Station as a parcels clerk.
But adventure beckoned and in September 1914 he joined the 1st/11th (county of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Finsbury Rifles) – which was a Territorial battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps.
His Battalion landed at Suvla Bay in August 1915 during the Gallipoli campaign. It was here during battle at Chocolate Hill that he received the shrapnel head injury.
To help him recover, he was evacuated to Egypt and then for a spell to England.
A few months later in November, he rejoined the Battalion just prior to the withdrawal of the Allies from the Dardanelles. The 1st Finsbury Rifles then became part of General Murray’s Egyptian Expeditionary Force advancing along the Mediterranean coastline towards Gaza.
It was during this 100-mile March that our officer suffered severe sunstroke.

War in Palestine

His unit was unsuccessful in battles at Gaza in March/April 1917, and in the autumn that year the 1st Finsbury Rifles joined a renewed offensive in Palestine.
Despite the difficulties he had faced, the courageous officer performed an act of gallantry on the night of December 21/22 1917 which earned him the prestigious Victoria Cross.

The Citation

The citation records: “For most conspicuous bravery when, after a position had been captured, the enemy immediately made counter and bombing attacks up communications trenches.
“Lance-Corporal Christie, realising the position, took a supply of bombs over the top, proceeding alone about fifty yards in the open along the communication trench and bombed the enemy.”
The brave officer continued to do this in spite of heavy opposition, working alone, until a block had been established.
The citation continues: “Returning towards our lines he heard voices behind him: he at once turned back and bombed another party moving up the trench, entirely breaking up a further bombing attack.
“By his prompt and effective action he undoubtably cleared a difficult position at a most critical time and saved many lives. Throughout he was subjected to heavy machine-gun fire and shell fire. He showed the greatest coolness and a total disregard for his own safety.”

A Cheshire Special Constable

A change of path followed after the war, when he became a commercial traveller and later worked in the catering and wine trade. He moved to live in Bramhall, Cheshire.
During the Second World War he joined as a Special Constable in the Dukinfield Division of Cheshire Constabulary – the strength of Cheshire Specials reached 1,100 during this time.

In 1942 he was promoted to Sergeant, and was later awarded the Special Constabulary Long Service Medal and Bar. He was a founder member of the VC Association.
After a life of service and bravery, our officer died aged 72 in Bramhall on September 10, 1967.

A plaque commemorating John Alexander (Jock) Christie VC inside Euston Station (where he started work) was unveiled by his son on March 28 2014.