Dr. Victor Thomas William Eagles FRCPS
Served with the RAMC 63rd Royal Naval Division HMS Hood
My father was born in Bangalore in India 1887 the year of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. He came to England in 1911 and studied Medicine at Glasgow and Cambridge Universities. On route to England the ship he was on was involved in a sea rescue of a steam ship The Lowther Range in the Bay of Biscay. Father helped rescue and treat the crew and passengers and was sited as a hero in the papers for his part in the rescue.
He joined up in the RAMC Royal Naval 63rd Divison HMS Hood. In 1917 he was at at the main Field Hospital near the village of Beaucort on the Ancre River, a tributary of the Somme river. He took a stretcher bearing party of his men to rescue wounded servicemen from 'No Mans Land' between the Allied and German trenches. I believe this is near Beaumont Hamel. On his birthday on 17th February 1917 he received a mention in despatches and was advised that he would receive the Military Cross for his devotion to duty rescuing people under heavy German fire.
He wrote letters to his mother in India and this became a very reliable source of knowledge to his family. There are accounts in the war office records at Kennington of the action and the appalling loss of life and heroism of men like my Father. He was badly wounded when his horse was killed under him and all his life he had shrapnel scars and bits still in him.
In spite of these injuries he survived and joined the Navy in the second world war on Allied Shipping. He was on the Arandora Star of the blue star line, a liner which had been requisitoned for war work. It was torpedoed of the West Coast of Ireland in 1940. An account of the shipwreck said the Ships Doctor, who was badly wounded, stood on the bridge to salute the ship as she sank - My father. The ship was transporting German and Italian Prisoners, a Hospital Ship. But none the less it was torpedoed.. I wonder if the German crew knew they were sinking many of their own men.
In my childhood my father was a broken man. He had strokes. Could scarcely walk. He suffered from very severe post traumatic stress. Had nightmares and malaria shakes that used to shake the house. A terrible way to live for a man who had led such an active and busy life. He died St Thomas's Hospital in 1967 of cancer.
May he and his fellow colleagues rest in peace.
Submitted by: Elizabeth Ann Brown (nee Eagles)