Lieutenant 8th Bn., Royal West Kent Regiment
In the last days of the war news broke in Sittingbourne that one of our own was to receive the Victoria Cross. The second son of John Hambrook Dean and grandson of George Hambrook Dean, a local industrialist who himself gave up his own home "Whitehall" in Bell Rd for use by the VAD, was to receive the highest honour for the action described below.
" For most conspicuous bravery, skillful command and devotion to duty during the period September 24th to 26th, 1918, when holding with his platoon an advance post established in a newly captured enemy trench north west of Lens. The left flank of the position was insecure and the post , when taken over on the night of the 24th was ill prepared for defence. Shortly after the post was occupied the enemy attempted without success to recapture it. Under heavy machine-gun fire, consolidation was continued and shortly after midnight, another determined enemy attack was driven back. Throughout the night Lieut Dean worked unceasingly with his men and at about six am on the 25th a resolute enemy attack supported by heavy shell and trench mortar fire developed again. Owing to the masterly command, Lieut Dean repulsed the attack causing heavy enemy casualties. Throughout the 25th, consolidation was continued under heavy fire, which culminated in tense artillery fire on the morning of the 26th, when the enemy again attacked and was finally repulsed with loss. Five times in all, thrice heavily, was the post attacked and on each occasion the attack was driven back. Throughout the period Lieut Dean inspired his command with his own contempt of danger and all fought with the greatest bravery. He set an example of valour leadership and devotion to duty of the very highest order"
Lieut Dean was at home with his parents at "Waldene" Tunstall when the news broke of his award. The very modest 21 year old man was interviewed by a reporter of the East Kent Gazette. He described the action above and praised the bravery of his men and described, when during the attack on his position, the enemy managed to get into the other end of the trench. Pe personally shot four Germans and the platoon managed to push the rest back out of the trench. Donald had a telephone set up in his position. He called the field HQ and asked:- "They are shelling us rather badly. Can we get some retaliation? The shells seem to be coming from all directions" Then he suddenly broke off "The Germans are here! Good-bye."
It was the brave Horatius,
First of the dauntless three,
Who we are told in days of old,
Did fight so gloriously.
That self-same valour, clear and bright
In all our lads we see.
The Nelson touch, ne'er saying much,
Like brave young Donald D.
For King and Country forth they went,
Scorning the battle's noise.
Clean living ones 'gainst filthy Huns
Fine stalwart khaki boys.
Time after time the Boches tried
To swarm that ruddy trench;
But, dogged grit just made them quit
The cost our heart-string wrench,
Our dear ones then sacrificed,
Their lives so worthily
Are now at rest among the blest
For all eternity.
All hail to thee! most gallant youth,
We're proud as proud can be,
Public acclaim shall seal thy fame
Young Sittingbourne VC.
Donald was wounded four times during the war, twice on the same day!
He lied about his age and joined the Volunteers in the autumn of 1914. After training he joined the Artists Rifles and was soon give a commission and joined the 8th.
Donald Dean died on the 9th December 1985
He is buried at Tunstall Church Yard, The inscription on his headstone reads
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith".