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This Is Why We Stand: Lieutenant Maurice Dease & Private Sidney Godley.


We have never been alone in the fight to build a better world. Lieutenant Maurice Dease and Private Sidney Godley are a reminder of that. Both men served in the Royal Fusiliers of the British Army during World War I. Dease and Godley were part of the original British Expeditionary Force that mobilized at the start of World War I. During that fateful month of August, 1914, the British faced the Germans for the first time at the Battle of Mons. 70,000 British troops were outnumbered nearly six to one by 160,000 German troops. Dease had orders to hold an area known as Nimy Bridge, a strategic position that could halt the German attack across a wide canal. Lieutenant Dease commanded two machine gun emplacements on the bridges far side. He had been wounded a number of times during the battle, but refused to be pulled from his men for medical attention each time. While dragging the body of a wounded man to cover, Dease was shot in the neck. Then in another attempt to move a wounded comrade, Dease was shot in the side. Lieutenant Dease repeated this process over and over until he was shot again in his side. This time he had fallen unconscious and his machine gun position was falling silent to the German onslaught. A volunteer was needed to bolster the faltering position and without hesitation, Private Sidney Godley rushed onto the bridge. As he moved the bodies from the machine gun emplacements, Godley was struck in the back by German shell fragments. Unfazed, Godley sat down and manned a machine gun for two hours while under fire. Godley had also volunteered to stay behind to cover the rest of his outfit as they began to withdraw. When ammo ran low and everyone had escaped, Private Godley took both machine guns apart and threw the pieces into the river, denying the enemy from using them. Godley was shot in the head as he threw the last piece into the river, but miraculously he survived. Maurice Dease had succumbed to his wounds on that day while Sidney Godley was eventually taken to a hospital and captured. He would survive the war. Like the American Medal of Honor, Dease and Godley were each awarded Great Britain's highest military honor, the Victoria Cross.

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