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Lt Col Collings-Wells

Lieut. Col. J. S. COLLINGS-WELLS, V.C., D.S.O. Fell in Action on March 27th, 1918AWARDED THE VICTORIA CROSS for most conspicuous bravery, skilful leading and handling of his battalion in very critical situations during a withdrawal. When the rearguard was almost surrounded and in great danger of being captured, Lieut. Colonel Collings-Wells, realising the situation, called for volunteers to remain behind and hold up the enemy while the remainder of the rearguard withdrew, and with his small body of volunteers held them up for one and a half hours until they had expended every round of ammunition. During this time he moved freely among his men, guiding and encouraging them, and by his great courage undoubtedly saved the situation.On a subsequent occasion, when his battalion was ordered to carry out a counter-attack, he showed the greatest bravery. Knowing that his men were extremely tired after six days’ fighting, he placed himself in front and led the attack, and even when twice wounded refused to leave them, but continued to lead and encourage his men until he was killed at the moment of gaining their objective. The successful results of the operation were, without doubt, due to the undaunted courage exhibited by this officer.From “The Times,”April 16th, 1918.Writing of Lieut. Colonel J. S. Collings-Wells, Beds Regiment, of Caddington Hall, Herts, a notice of whose career has already appeared in this journal, a correspondent says:“He was one of the best type of the citizen soldier. In pre-war days he devoted much time to the Hertfordshire Militia and subsequently to the Special Reserve. He spent the winter of 1914-15 in France, where he was wounded and invalided home. He returned to France in July 1916, in command of a company, with the rank of major. Shortly afterwards he became second in command, and a few days before the battle of Beaucourt- Beaumont Hamel assumed the position of lieut. colonel of his battalion — a post which he held till his death in action on March 27th. For his able leadership on a recent occasion he was awarded the D.S.O. Possessing a wonderful grasp of detail and great organising ability Lieut. Colonel Collings-Wells raised his battalion to a pitch of high efficiency. Endowed with untiring energy and activity, he stimulated a similar keenness in his officers. He was wedded to his battalion and spared no efforts to promote the welfare and comfort of his men. Perhaps his most striking characteristic was an extraordinary coolness and intrepidity under shell fire, which on many critical occasions inspired his men with confidence and cheerfulness in the face of danger.”

Collings-Wells VC Memorial Hall

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