"No 7709 Lance-Corporal William Angus, 8th (Lanark) Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry (Territorial Force) - For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty at Givenchy on 12 June 1915, in voluntarily leaving his trench under very heavy bomb and rifle fire and rescuing a wounded officer who was lying within a few yards of the enemy's position. Lance-Corporal Angus had no chance whatsoever in escaping the enemy's fire when undertaking this very gallant action, and in effecting the rescue he sustained about 40 wounds from bombs, some of them being very serious".


"A most heroic action was performed by your son Lance Corporal William Angus. On a certain night I had to send a small party out to attack a German barricade. The Germans exploded a mine, and when the party got back Lieutenant Martin (whom I expect you will know as he comes from Carluke) was missing. In the morning, Mr Martin was seen lying on the parapet of the German trench, and shortly afterwards he was seen to to move his arms. Your boy at once volunteered to go out and bring him in. It seemed so hopeless that I could hardly bring myself to consent, thinking it would be better to wait until dark and then try and rush the trench. However, we made arrangements for covering fire with rifles and machine guns and, with a rope 50 yards long, which was the distance Mr Martin was away, your son crept out. Owing to the clever way he crept and the height of the parapet, he got to where Mr Martin was lying without being seen. He took Mr Martin by the shoulders and raised him up a bit. The Germans  must have seen or heard him - they weren't six feet from him - but luckily the parapet was high and our fire made them keep down their heads. They then threw bombs and hand grenades which burst all around your son and Mr Martin. Mr Martin was seen to stagger to his feet, and assisted by your son, made a dash for our line. He got about thirty feet and fell, but managed to crawl in. Your son took a slightly different road and had at least a dozen bombs thrown at him. We saw he was wounded and he fell, but thank God he managed to get back to our line also. No words can describe one's feelings over a deed like this. Your boy went gladly to what was almost certain death, determined to try and rescue his officer. That he ever returned was a miracle. The General has sent forward his name for the Victoria Cross, and that he will get it there is little doubt, as no braver deed has ever been done in all the history of the British Army. Your son has no fewer than forty wounds, many of them serious, some very slight, but I am glad to say that the doctors say there is no fear of him, and he will recover from them all. Mr Martin, you will be glad to hear, will also recover. Just in closing may I say how proud we all are to have such a man as your son in our battalion, and to have seen such a deed as this has been the privilege of few."


"When the men came in after the explosion, a fear arose which with each arrival deepened into a certainty. Their leader had not returned. Lt Martin, the bright eyed clean cheery lad we had all learned in the last eight months at the front to love for his constant bonhomie, and to honour for many a plucky act, is not accounted for.  'Are the rest in?' "Yes Sir" 'Anyone seen Mr Martin?'  No answer. Perhaps you folks at home don't know what news like that means to officers and men of  a Territorial battalion who have shared hardships together through a long campaign, whose home ties are now linked into chains of iron, forged in fire and blood. But you will believe that all the black night long faithful men risked their lives over the parapet and searched and crawled and searched again - in vain. And when the morning came, with heavy hearts they gave up their task - all hope seemed gone.
Now the last thing that Mr Martin could remember was the explosion of the mine, lifting him upwards with its awful force. The next moment, as it seemed, he found himself lying, his body more than half buried in the soft earth, already reddened with his blood 'somewhere in France.' An hour passed, and weakly and wearily, he brushed the earth away a handful at a time. It was this feeble movement that first caught a sentry's eye, and in a few moments we all knew what had happened. There he lay right at the foot of the German parapet only some ten feet of earth between him and the most pitiless enemy that ever waged an unworthy war. His very closeness to them hid him from their view, but already they must have heard his moans, and knew he was there for the ugly neck of a periscope with its ghoulish eye reached over their trench and leered at the poor wounded soldier below. Slowly and horribly it turned and swayed and leered at us too, and then back to him. Hell itself can produce nothing to match the dreadfulness of that horrid periscope. And though, for fear that we might only bring on the end, we hardly dare fire all day at that place yet I tell you that the periscope was smashed by a well aimed British bullet and every one that took its place shared its fate. 

In agony, poor Mr Martin appealed to the enemy for a drink of water. And what do you think those unspeakable cowards did? They threw at him an unlighted bomb. Can brutal inhumanity go further? Surely not. And we, too, understood their game: we have been fighting them too long to expect to see them sling over a rope and draw him in. We did not even expect them to be merciful and kill him. No, they left him there in the cruel glare of a cloudless June sky - a bait to lure yet another Scottish soldier to his death. 
And we - well, we watched him. And slowly there rose beside him a Hunnish loophole, a steel plate fenced in by many sandbags to shield the fiends who would shoot if rescue were tried. A rescue by day now seemed hopeless but to a man 'D' Coy volunteered to rush the German trench at dusk, cost what it might. That however, was rendered unnecessary by one of the most brilliant deeds of courage that the world has ever yet seen.

Let me describe the position more fully. The Germans were on a bare dry knoll some 70 yards from us. Their trench had a high irregular parapet on which Mr Martin now lay perfectly still. It was obvious that for more than half the distance between the trenches every square inch of the ground was commanded by their rifles; there was no shelter whatever either from their fire or their view. In front of our lines for 30 yards or so there grew the self sewn corn of last year's harvest, rank with weeds and affording good cover. Our trench had been sited along the hollow and by this time it was manned by only our best riflemen. On a ridge behind, and perhaps 6 feet higher, a machine gun had been mounted while at various points of vantage the officers had gathered to watch the deadly loophole over their friend.

It was now mid-day, and the strain became too much to endure. Out of many brave and willing men, one was chosen -  a man born and bred in the same Scottish village which was Mr Martin's home. He knew well what lay before him and was well warned but not afraid. An officer of the Canadian contingent who was visiting us in the trench, for whose help and advice we can never be too grateful, spoke to him kindly. 'Now, my boy' he said, 'You are going to certain death.'   "It does not matter much, Sir, whether sooner or later" was the reply. 

At 2 o'clock in the afternoon, Angus leapt out over our parapet on his forlorn hope. Clinging to the ground, and using every precaution that training and skill have given to the soldier, he crawled forward on his task. It all seemed hopeless to escape notice in full view of both sides, and yet he made steady progress and nothing happened. Minutes passed: they seemed like hours: the space diminished more and more quickly - at last he reached the German parapet and still the enemy waited, hoping perhaps for yet another victim. Quickly but coolly Angus did his work.  He touched the Lieutenant's arm, whispered in his ear, raised him up a little and placed a flask of brandy between his teeth. Together they sat up and waited for a matter of two or three seconds to gather strength for the ordeal before them. At this very moment the Germans lobbed a bomb just over the parapet with a grim explosion, raising a storm of dust. Now or never it must be. Hand in hand the wounded officer and his man rise to their feet, the strong man guiding the weak as best he can. And then the Germans made their mistake. So sure they had been of their prey, their cunning over-reached itself. The swiftest runner in the world would have one chance in a thousand of crossing that open space if only their snipers shot steadily. Instead, they throw more bombs and up rises a pillar of smoke - 20, 30, 40 feet height, hiding the whole of what was happening both from themselves and from us. Out into our view there stagger two poor wounded figures, stumbling, running, falling, crawling. Down they go, then up again, and on. The German rifles shoot wildly: still on they go, and out line of fire is clear. Our rifles now, one blast from the machine gun and its all over; they are safely in our lines and once again a stout heart and a cool head have enabled a brave good man to achieve what seemed impossible. Mr Martin has three wounds. Angus has forty, but the doctor says that both will live and fight again if need be. 

That is the story, plainly set down by one who witnessed it all barely a week ago in one small corner of the great battlefront in France. Brave deeds cannot be too widely known or too lightly honoured. We may see such deeds again, for British hearts are true but we shall never see any that are braver than the one that we have seen."


"I am still in France and they might keep me here for some time yet. They are doing their best to save the sight of my left eye. The best of eye specialists in the world are in this hospital. They have given me great hopes of getting my sight all right, so I will just have to hope for the best. My other wounds are getting on all right, but it will be a long time before I am able to get up and walk about. However, I will get on all right, never fear, and some day your battered old brother will come back to Carluke as cheery as ever."


"You must be proud indeed to have so gallant a son and I heartily congratulate both of you. It is almost a miracle that he is spared to you after so dangerous a venture. He has won his decoration nobly and I sincerely hope he may fully recover and live long enough to enjoy it. May you too be long spared to feel pride in him and his achievements."


"I know you will bear with me if I do not make a long speech. My heart is too full for words. When I lay on the German parapet that Saturday in June my plight seemed hopeless, but Angus at the risk of his life came out and saved me. Carluke may well be proud of her hero. For it was an act of bravery second to none in the annals of the British Army. Corporal Angus, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope you will soon be restored to your wanted health and strength and that you may be long spared to wear this watch and chain which please accept as a small memento of that day."