De Wind, Edmund

De Wind, Edmund

Victoria Cross

Second Lieutenant

15th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles formerly


No. 79152, 31st Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force

Killed in action on Thursday 21 March 1918 (aged 34)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Pozieres Memorial, France (Panel 74 to 76)

Canadian Virtual War Memorial (CVWM)

Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance (Page 586)

Canadian Bank of Commerce Memorial Plaques

Comber and District War Memorial

Comber Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mary’s)

Campbell College Belfast (War Memorial and Plaque)

Marble Plaque in the grounds of the Ulster Tower near Thiepval

Column at the West Front of St Anne’s Cathedral Belfast

Banner of Loyal Orange Lodge (LOL) No. 100 (Comber Ulster Defenders)

Ulster History Circle Blue Plaque, Bridge Street Link, Comber (14 September 2007)

De Wind Drive in Comber

Paving stone in Gillespie Square, Comber

All Saints Anglican Cathedral, Edmonton, Canada

Mount de Wind in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada (due west of Edmonton)

Redwood Tree in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

VC Commemoration Plaque in British High Commission in Ottawa, Canada

VC Memorial Plaque in York Cemetery, Toronto


Of Dutch extraction, Edmund De Wind was born on 11 December 1883 in Railway Street, Comber and he was the youngest son of Arthur Hughes De Wind (born Malacca, Bengal, India) and Margaret Jane De Wind (nee Stone, born Barn Hill, Comber) who were married on 12 April 1863 in Comber Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mary’s).  Margaret Stone was a daughter of Guy Stone, Chairman of the Belfast and County Down Railway.

For a time, the De Wind family lived in Singapore when Arthur was Commissioner of Public and Municipal Works.  They moved back to Comber in 1872.

The De Wind family lived in Railway Street, Castle Street and Bridge Street, Comber and then in Kinvara, Killinchy Road, Comber.  Arthur De Wind was a railway engineer who worked for a time in India and later as Chief Engineer on the Belfast and County Down Railway.

Arthur and Margaret Jane De Wind had at least nine children including:

Catherine Anne (born in India)

Edith Caroline (born around 1868/1869 in India; was a nurse in France during the Great War)

Louise Margaret (born around 1869/1870 in India)

Alice Maud (born 3 November 1873 in Ardville, Donaghadee)

Norman (born 24 January 1875 in Comber; married Ethel Andrews; emigrated to Canada)

Florence (born 12 May 1877 in Railway Street, Comber; married George O’Meara; emigrated to Canada)

Edmund (born 11 December 1883 in Comber)

Two of their children died in infancy.  Their daughter, Lillie Frances Mary De Wind, died of tubercular meningitis on 6 April 1885 (aged 18).

As a boy, Edmund enjoyed cricket, golf, sailing and shooting.  Initially he was home-schooled by a governess.

After attending Campbell College and, before moving to Canada in 1911, Edmund De Wind worked as a bank official in the Belfast and Cavan branches of the Bank of Ireland.  He played cricket for the North Down Club.

In Canada, Edmund De Wind worked for the Canadian Bank of Commerce, initially in Toronto.  Whilst there, he served with the 2nd Regiment, Queen’s Own Rifles.  He was transferred to Saskatchewan and then to Edmonton.  There he joined the local golf and gun clubs and he was Chief Warden in All Saints Anglican Cathedral.

On 16 November 1914 Edmund De Wind enlisted in Edmonton and joined the 31st Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (he had six months’ previous service in the Queen’s Own, Toronto).

On 29 May 1915, Private Edmund De Wind embarked for England aboard the SS Northland and he went to France on 19 September 1915 with the Machine Gun Section of the 31st Battalion.   On 20 March 1917, he transferred to Cadet School with a view to obtaining a commission and on 25 September 1917 he was discharged to a commission with the 17th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in Dundalk and, two months later, he went to the 15th Battalion.  Edmund’s father had died some seven months earlier on 27 February 1917 (aged 79).  His mother died on 8 April 1922 (aged 81).

Second Lieutenant Edmund De Wind was 34 and engaged to be married when he was killed in action on 21 March 1918 at Grugies, St Quentin and he was awarded the Victoria Cross.  Details were published in the London Gazette dated 13 May 1919:  ‘For most conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice on 21 March 1918, at the Race Course Redoubt, near Grugies.  For seven hours he held this most important post, and though twice wounded and practically single-handed, he maintained his position until another section could be got to his help.  On two occasions, with two NCOs only, he got out on top under heavy machine gun and rifle fire, and cleared the enemy out of the trench, killing many.  He continued to repel attack after attack until he was mortally wounded and collapsed.  His valour, self-sacrifice and example were of the highest order.’  He has no known grave.

On 28 June 1919 Margaret Jane De Wind received her son’s Victoria Cross from King George V at Buckingham Palace and when she returned to Comber the town was decorated with flags in honour of the occasion.

After the Great War ended a large German gun was presented to the town and placed in The Square as a memorial to Second Lieutenant Edmund De Wind.  This gun was removed in August 1940 to provide scrap metal during the Second World War.  The metal plates that bore the inscription are preserved in the porch of Comber Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mary’s).

Second Lieutenant Edmund De Wind is commemorated on Comber and District War Memorial; in Comber Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mary’s); on Campbell College War Memorial and on a Marble Plaque in the grounds of the Ulster Tower near Thiepval.  A column at the West Front of St Anne’s Cathedral Belfast is dedicated to him and he is named with Captain George James Bruce and Second Lieutenant Thomas McRoberts on the Banner of LOL No. 100 (Comber Ulster Defenders).  Mount de Wind in Jasper National Park, Alberta in Canada is named after him.