The lone corporal who turned the tide of WW1


Book Reviewer
Very Humbling story

One by one his men fell dead. German bullets and bombs rained down on him. Yet John Sayer fought on alone to crucially slow down ther German advance

Brave Man
Well spotted, they are yanks. Very brave man.
Great man. Probably didn't need to join up at his age in 1914 but heeded the call anyway. Let's hope that by the 90th anniversary he will have his rightful recognition.

I was amazed some years ago to read a book on VC's ('The VC's of Wales and their Regiments' - I think) and their graves in the UK. Too many were left in paupers graves with no recognition from their communities or , bizarrely, their regiments. I suppose with amalgamations, disbandments etc it just happened but I would be interested to know if the situation has now been changed.
I'm loathe to say this, since it might appear that I'm trying to detract from Sayer's heroism, which I'm not. Clearly an extremely brave man...


The author does the platoon commander a grave disservice; how on earth would Piesse know "the wider ramifications of Sayer's actions"? so he could downplay them? And why would he write him up for a VC if he wanted to take all the credit? It doesn't make sense.

The importance of the action wasn't appreciated at that point - the author appears to suggest that it's only recently that the importance of the action has been understood - so to suggest that there was some attempt at a cover-up for the reasons of self-aggrandisment without any clear evidence to the contrary is at best shoddy. I'm sure that more than a few WW1 historians would argue that the author is giving the action a far greater significance than it merits: the Germans were unlikely to be thrown into a slough of despond by failing to take one position on time on the first day of the offensive. By early April, a series of such actions had begun to take their toll on German morale, though.

Don't get me wrong - I'm all in favour of Sayer being given the belated wider recognition his valour deserves, but posthumous sniping at Piesse, suggesting that he was attempting a spot of big-timing to enhance the bar to his DSO at Sayer's expense seems unfair and totally unecessary; likewise, Sayer's actions don't need the attempt to turn them into the 'single-handed turning the course of the war' hyperbole the author/journo has provided. Sayer's valour stands out well enough without this crass attempt to 'help' which belittles the courage and motives of another brave man.

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