Herbert Wallace Le Patourel

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Brigadier Herbert Wallace Le Patourel VC (20 June 1916 – 4 September 1979) was a British 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.

Early life

Herbert Wallace Le Patourel was born in Guernsey on 20 June 1916. He was educated at Elizabeth College, and represented the school at shooting and hockey. On leaving school he took up a career in banking. He joined the Hampshire Regiment at Lieutenant in 1938, and was promoted to Captain in 1941.

VC details

Le Patourel was 26 years old, and a temporary major in the 2nd Battalion, The Hampshire Regiment (later The Royal Hampshire Regiment), British Army during the Second World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 3 December 1942 at Tebourba, Tunisia, enemy forces were holding high ground and resisting all efforts in dislodge them. Major Le Patourel called for four volunteers to go with him and they attacked and silenced several of the machine-gun posts. When all his men became casualties, he went on alone to engage the enemy, using his pistol and hurling hand grenades.

Initial reports from other wounded soldiers suggested that he had been killed in action, and he was awarded the VC posthumously. He was later discovered to have survived, been taken prisoner and was in hospital in Italy. He was repatriated in 1943, and awarded his VC at a ceremony in Cairo.

Later career

Shortly after his repatriation, he returned to active service. He went on to serve as Brigade Major in north-western Europe 1944-45 where he was Mentioned in Dispatches. In November 1945, he was appointed an Instructor at the Staff College, Quetta, and was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel. He later achieved the rank of Brigadier.

He paid an official visit to his native island at its Liberation in 1945, and was officially welcomed home by the States of Guernsey on the anniversary of the liberation in 1948.

The Guernsey Post Office issued a set of commemorative stamps in 2002 which celebrate his achievements.

He was later appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Avon.

His daughter, Penelope Ann Le Patourel, is the wife of Sir William Ehrman. His brother, John Le Patourel, was a notable historian and Professor of History at Leeds University.

The medal

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Hampshire Regiment Museum and Memorial Garden, Winchester, England.


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