Church Focus – F. Mellish, curate of S. Paul’s and wartime hero

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Fr. Edward Noel Mellish is one of S. Paul’s past curates and was the first Army Chaplain to win the Victoria Cross.

He was born in 1880 in Barnet, North London and was educated at Saffron Walden Grammer School before becoming a member of the Artists Rifles. In 1900 he began serving with Baden-Powell’s police against the Boers in South Africa.

He became curate of s. Paul’s in 1912 and took part in many community parish projects such as working with the Church Lads Brigade opening the Noel Club. Once the First World War broke out, F. Mellish became an army chaplain, serving from 1915 to 1919. His brother Second Lieutenant Richard Mellish was killed in action whilst serving with the 1st Middlesex Regiment at the Battle of Loos in 1915. F. Mellish was attached to the 4th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers in Ypres Salient in 1916 and it was then that he performed the action for which he was awarded the Victorian Cross in the action at S. Eloi, Belgium. On the three days 27 – 29 March 1916, during the heavy fighting he worked continuously attending to and rescuing wounded men.

An officer witness these actions:

Into this tempest of fire the brave Parson walked with a prayer book under his arm as though on church parade in peace time.

Some of the men would not have survived the ordeal had it not been for the prompt assistance rendered to them by Mr Mellish.

Mellish survived the war and was the first Army Chaplain to be awarded the Victorian Cross for his bravery. Today the VC is displayed at the Royal Fusiliers Museum in the Tower of London and Replica medals are on display at the Museum of Army Chaplaincy.

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