The following are first hand quotes and diary extracts about acts of bravery during the First World War. They are taken from Paul Allens on-line book 'Neath a foreign sky' All these extracts help to bring to life the heroism at key moments in World war One. They concentrate on quotations and first hand accounts which.
During July 1918 the parents of Lieutenant Clarkson had received from the Admiralty a brown paper package containing their son's Military Cross, which had been awarded to William in the wake of the Third Battle of Ypres of 1917, which had begun almost exactly a year earlier. The decoration had been accompanied by a citation, which had read;
'On the 4TH of November 1917, south east of Poelcapelle, this officer displayed great skill and devotion to duty in handling his men under very heavy machine gun fire whilst assaulting Tournant Farm. In spite of heavy fire he went forward with great gallantry, and assisted in the capture of a very dangerous enemy concrete strong point. It was owing to his personal initiative that the operations became successful, and the positions were put into an efficient state of defence. This officer has always displayed great gallantry and courage'....
Extract:Captain JC Addy from ‘At all costs’ Monchy Le Preux in Paul Allen's book 'Neath a foreign sky'
Initially believed to be missing in action, confirmation of Addy's death had afterwards come from Private Thomas Green who had advanced with the first wave of 'A' Company. Finding himself alone and approaching a German machine gun with a crew of twelve, the soldier had described;
"You seem to have done your bit for today"
'They had stopped firing for a moment and I threw a Mills bomb which wrecked the gun, killed four men and wounded one and the others then threw up their hands. Just then Captain J.C. Addy jumped into the trench and when he saw the prisoners he said 'you'd better take them back, Green, you seem to have done your bit for today'. 'Captain Addy had been killed shortly afterwards'
Extract:Major O.M. Learmonth from Battle of Aisne ‘The blood of Heroes’ in Paul Allen's book
'Major O.M. Learmonth has always shown a wonderful spirit. Absolutely fearless himself, he has also conducted himself that he has imbued those with whom he came into contact, with some of his own personality. When the barrage started he was continually with his men and officers encouraging them and making sure that no loophole was left through which the enemy could gain a foothold. When the attack was launched he was with his men supervising, and at times, throwing bombs when an emergency arose. He was wounded twice but still carried on. The third time his leg was broken so he lay in the trench and continued to encourage and give his commands. After the attack was repulsed he handed over to Lieut. Smith before being carried out'
 The author is indebted to Mr. Tom Arnott and his splendid series of articles contained in the 'Hellfire Corner' website regarding his grandfather Ira Kilbourne 'Red' Arnott, who had served as a Private in the 2ND Battalion between April 1917 and January 1918, that have shed so much invaluable light on the most remarkable of military units.
Extract:Private Cunningham from Paul Allen's book 'Neath a foreign sky'
'War's Bitter cost - Peace after suffering - The spirits of the people of Hull had been lifted on the 13TH of January 1917 the London Gazette had published a citation bestowing the Victoria Cross on the nineteen years old Private John Cunningham of the 12TH Battalion for the gallantry displayed by the young soldier during the attack which had taken place exactly a month before;
'For most conspicuous bravery and resource during operations. After the enemy's front line had been captured, Private Cunningham proceeded with a bombing section up a communication trench. Much opposition was encountered, and the rest of the section became casualties. Collecting all the bombs from the casualties, this gallant soldier went on alone. Having expended all his bombs, he returned for a fresh supply, and again proceeded to the communication trench, where he met a party of ten of the enemy. These he killed, and cleared the trench up to the enemy line. His conduct throughout the day was magnificent.'
Extract:Captain White from Paul Allen's book 'Neath a foreign sky'
One of a series of strongly defended redoubts situated in the shell scarred area to the north of the piles of brick and mortar that had once been the village of Thiepval; the Stuff Redoubt had defied all previous attacks by the British, nevertheless, during that afternoon the 9TH Battalion had gained a foothold in the intricate system of trenches and blockhouses. Later that day the surviving members of the Battalion had been reinforced by men of the 6TH Yorkshire Regiment and together the two units, under the command of former school teacher Captain Archie Cecil Thomas White, had beaten off repeated enemy counter attacks that had been mounted over the next four terrible days. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find a detailed account of those four days of hell that had been endured by that most gallant band of Yorkshiremen. However, the citation that had accompanied Captain White's award of the Victoria Cross, which had appeared in the London Gazette of the 26TH of October 1916, perhaps says all that needs to be said;
"He risked his life continually and was the life and soul of the defence"
'For most conspicuous bravery at Stuff Redoubt on the 27TH September and the 1ST October 1916. He was in command of the troops that held the southern and western faces of a redoubt. For four days and nights, by his indomitable spirit, great personal courage and skilful dispositions he held his position under fire of all kinds and against several counter attacks. Though short of supplies and ammunition, his determination never wavered. When the enemy attacked in greatly superior numbers and had almost ejected our troops from the redoubt, he personally led a counter attack, which finally cleared the enemy out of the southern and western faces. He risked his life continually and was the life and soul of the defence'
[Born at Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire, Archie White had also later been award with a Military Cross and had survived the war to serve in the Second World War. He had died peacefully at his home at Camberley on the 20TH of May 1971 at the age of eighty years].
Extract:All ranks went forward from "The Last campaign of World War One"
Faced with an almost solid wall of fire, the Leeds Rifles plan of attack had quickly changed from that of a massed Battalion advance into a series of 'rushes', that had gradually seen the battalion make progress up the hill, albeit with heavy casualties. Wyrall reports of the action;
...'Soon there was hesitation amongst the enemy troops and the West Yorkshires, rushing with the bayonet, completed the discomfiture of the Germans for, though they gallantly tried to stay the advance of the British troops, they could not do so; eventually they turned and fled, and the whole line of attacking troops pressed on and drove the enemy from the crest of the hill. Thus the Montaine de Bligny fell to the victorious 8TH West Yorkshires of the 62ND Division. It was a grand fight. Nothing could have been finer than the way in which all ranks went forward and, after the first check, resolutely set to work t sweep the enemy from the side of the hill'
Extract: Sergeant Biggs from "The last campaign of the Great War" in Paul Allen's book "Neath a foreign sky"
Half an hour had sufficed for the capture of the Battalion's first objective, and then, at 2-34am, the barrage moved forward again to the high ground beyond [the village].
The East Yorkshires were worried by enfilade machine gun fire from the right and particularly by the fire of a gun craftily concealed on the railway line [the second railway east of the river] until Sergeant Biggs again distinguished himself by leading a Lewis Gun section against the hostile guns. Under cover of the fire from the section he personally rushed the enemy gun, which was firing at point blank range, killing the team single-handed and captured the gun.
The whole attack had gone splendidly. 'The enemy troops' records the Battalion [War] Diary of the 7TH East Yorkshires, 'were of good quality - the opposition was strong but not strong enough to stop our victorious advance; the spirit of the Battalion throughout was excellent'
Extract: Bravery 1918 from Paul Allen's book
'For great gallantry near Mouquet Farm. This man who is a stretcher-bearer during a night attack on the 14TH/15TH August 1916 displayed great courage and resources continuously bandaging wounded under heavy fire and placing them in shell holes. Later after daybreak he carried man after man in under heavy fire from shell holes into our front trenches'