• Lt Maurice Dease
Events & Speakers | Posted 23.08.2014

Maurice Dease VC, killed at the Battle of Mons on August 23rd 1914

Lieutenant Maurice Dease was awarded the first Victoria Cross of the First World War, for his extreme bravery shown in the opening engagement of 1914 at the Battle of Mons. Dease was educated at Stonyhurst College. A young Irish Catholic from Co Westmeath, he boarded at the school for five years. He is buried at St Symphorien military cemetery, near Mons, where the Prime Minister David Cameron, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and other dignitaries commemorated the 100th anniversary of the declaration of the First World War on August 4th. Maurice Dease featured in the recent BBC3 series Our World War: The First Day.
On 22nd August, just 18 days after Britain had declared war, Lieutenant Dease led his men to Belgium. The Royal Fusiliers marched through the city of Mons to the canal at Nimy. A high railway bridge ran across the canal and Dease set up his two machineguns on this bridge, not knowing when the enemy would appear, or from which direction. Soon after sunrise on 23rd August the Germans approached the railway bridge, regrouping when some were shot, to appear in lines from different angles.
Despite being wounded in the leg and neck, Dease climbed out of his command trench and took over the machinegun of a dead soldier. When the second gun jammed he crawled down the embankment to get it working, climbed back and carried on firing.
The citation for his VC reads: “Though two or three times badly wounded he continued to control the fire of his machine guns at Mons on 23rd August until all his men were shot. He died of his wounds.”

Maurice Dease is remembered with great pride at Stonyhurst. His portrait hangs in the Top Refectory, beside the portraits of Stonyhurst’s six other recipients of the Victoria Cross.

May he rest in peace.