Thomas Ricketts

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Thomas Ricketts, V.C.
(Royal Newfoundland Regiment)

Thomas (Tommy) Ricketts (April 15, 1901February 10, 1967) was a Newfoundlander and a 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.


Born on April 15, 1901 in Middle Arm, White Bay, Newfoundland, Ricketts enlisted aged 15 and 4 months into the 1st Bn, Royal Newfoundland Regiment during the First World War. He was wounded in the leg at Cambrai, but soon returned to his regiment. The following deed took place October 14, 1918 at Ledeghem, Belgium, for which Ricketts was awarded the VC.

No. 3102 Pte. Thomas Ricketts, 1st Bn., R. Newfoundland R. <p>For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on the 14th October, 1918, during the advance from Ledeghem, when the attack was temporarily held up by heavy hostile fire and the platoon to which he belonged suffered severe casualties from the fire of a battery at point-blank range. <p>Pte. Ricketts at once volunteered to go forward with his section commander and a Lewis gun to attempt to outflank the battery. Advancing by short rushes under heavy fire from enemy machine guns with the hostile battery, their ammunition was exhausted when still 300 yards from the battery. The enemy, seeing an opportunity to get their field guns away, began to bring up their gun teams. Pte. Ricketts, at once realising the situation, doubled back 100 yards under the heaviest machine-gun fire, procured further ammunition, and dashed back again to the Lewis gun, and by very accurate fire drove the enemy and the gun teams into a farm. <p>His platoon then advanced without casualties, and captured the four field guns, four machine guns, and eight prisoners. <p>A fifth field gun was subsequently intercepted by fire and captured. <p>By his presence of mind in anticipating the enemy intention and his utter disregard of personal safety, Pte. Ricketts secured the further supply of ammunition which directly resulted in these important captures and undoubtedly saved many lives. </blockquote> From The London Gazette Issue 31108 January 3, 1919 (Fourth Supplement January 6, 1919 p.309). For this incident, Ricketts was awarded the Victoria Cross by King George V himself, and promoted to Sergeant. At the investiture, King George introduced Ricketts as "the youngest VC in My army." Ricketts also received the British War Medal 19141920, the Victory Medal 19141919, 1937 GVIR Coronation Medal, 1953 EIIR Coronation Medal and France's Croix de Guerre with Golden Star. On the 18th January 1919 Thomas Ricketts received a message informing him that he was to be invested with the Victoria Cross by King George V on the following day, Sunday, 19th January 1919. As he was shortly due to return home to Newfoundland, the King instructed that Ricketts should proceed by train to Sandringham, the sovereign's country estate in Norfolk, where he would be invested with his Victoria Cross. The ceremony took place in the estate's York Cottage where the King, accompanied by Princess Mary and Prince George, chatted with Ricketts for ten minutes before pinning the VC on his uniform coat. He was then the youngest living recipient of the Victoria Cross.

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Thomas Ricketts memorial plaque.
(Water Street, St. John's, Newfoundland)

After the war, Ricketts studied Pharmacy, and opened a business on Water Street in St. John's. He was given a state funeral when he died in 1967, and is commemorated by a memorial on the former site of his pharmacy.

Ricketts is buried at the Anglican Cemetery, Forest Road, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.

Ricketts' medals are kept at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

Note: Despite many refs, Thomas Ricketts was NOT awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Sometimes considered to be Canadian although it should be borne in mind that during World War I Newfoundland was a self governing dominion and didn't became a Province of Canada until 1949.

External links

This page has been migrated from the Victoria Cross Reference ( with permission.


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