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Soldiers of the Regiment

Private John Henry Rutter

Private John Henry Rutter, number 7055, of the 1st Battalion, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment was clearly advised that he was to be recommended for and receive the Victoria Cross for his action in the First World War.  Sadly whilst two local newspapers reported the award of the Victoria Cross and the circumstances in which it was awarded, no award was ever made. 

Private Rutter had enlisted into the King's own on 7th April 1902 and he arrived in France with the 1st Battalion on 23rd August 1914.  He was wounded and discharged due to those wounds on 25th May 1916.

From an unknown newspaper:

A Cheshire V C Hero
Twice Saved His Officer’s Life

Native of Little Leigh

Private J H Rutter VC, whose home is at Little Leigh, Northwich, and who now is one of a number of wounded soldiers in the Royal Infirmary at Shrewsbury, has given to a representative of “The Chronicle” a number of interesting details of the deed on the battlefield that won for him the coveted honour. Private Rutter is a quiet, unassuming fellow, and the distinguished decoration has not given him even a temporary spell of “swelled head”. He speaks as one who is just conscious that he has merely done his duty, and makes no fuss about it. Rutter, with others from the institution, goes out for frequent drives round about Shrewsbury, and the day following his receiving the VC was taken out motoring by Captain Sowerby, agent to Lord Barnard.

The gallantry which won for Private Rutter his VC was shown on more than one occasion and he tells in a simple way how he twice saved the life of his officer, Captain Woodgate, to whom he was acting as servant. It is fortunate for that officer that he was attended by such a faithful and devoted servant.

On the first occasion that Rutter saved Captain Woodgate’s life the two were out observing, and while standing on a railway barricades the officer was shot in the head by a sniper. Captain Woodgate instantly fell, and in a moment Rutter was at his side, raised him from the ground, and carried him a distance of 200 yards. “We were both,” said Rutter, “during this task of min under a sharp fire from snipers.” He went on “My officer was seriously wounded, but I managed to get him out of the zone of fire, and later Captain Woodgate was sent home. In due course (Rutter continued) my gallant old officer returned to the front, and I again was attached to him as servant.

Asked how he came for a second time to save the life of his officer, Rutter said that early in April Captain Woodgate, with Lieutenant McCulloch, a party of eight men and himself (Rutter), was engaged in undermining German trenches. Germans were also at work in under mining British trenches, and during the course of their work, as sometimes, said Private Rutter, often happens, in two parties came into contact. Suddenly the Germans turned on fluid gas, and Captain Woodgate and his party were more or less overcome by the deadly fumes. “My officer,” said Rutter, “was rendered unconscious, and I, rushing forward, seized his body, which was up to its waist in mud and water, and carried him a distance of fifty yards, placing him at a point of safety.”

This was not all. Having saved Captain Woodgate, Rutter modestly related how he then returned to the trench and rescued Lieutenant McCulloch, who was also suffocated. By this time the poisonous gas had got the better of our hero and he collapsed, but not before he and his officers were at a place of safety. Not one of the eight men that were with them left the trench alive.

Asked how he came to get his own wound, Private Rutter said it was on Whit Monday when “my wrist was shattered by shrapnel.” He is still a long way off being ready again for the firing line, but, like the brave fellow he is, has not altogether given up hope “of having” as he says, “another pop at the Germans.”

Rutter, it only remains to say, is a married man with a wife and one child, living at Little Leigh.

As showing that the VC hero of Little Leigh is as lucky as he is brave, we may state that he is one out of five, all that are left of his battalion in the King’s Own Royal Lancaster that went over to France when the war broke out.

The Chester Courant:

A Cheshire VC

On Thursday night, among the wounded soldiers who arrived at the Frodsham Auxiliary Military Hospital was Private J H Rutter, VC of the 1st Battalion (B Company) King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment.

Rutter is a married man, his wife and one five year old boy living at Little Leigh. He was employed at Messrs Brunner Mond’s at Winnington, and will be the lucky recipient of the £100 promised by the firm to the first of the 600 men whom they released for the Front to gain the VC Distinction. He is awaiting instructions to return to Shrewsbury, whence he will proceed to London to receive his medal. Private Rutter belongs to a patriotic family, seeing that he has one brother out with the Royal Horse Artillery, two more ready to go out, having completed the necessary training and one just enlisted while two are at work on munitions.



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 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

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