Bill Speakman VC was born in 1927 and grew up in Altringham. It was in 1945 at the age of 17½, giving his age as 18, that he joined the Army, the Black Watch. Volunteering for overseas postings he enjoyed army life.
Volunteering for Korea he was posted to the 1st Battalion, the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, which he described as “soldiering, proper soldiering.”. It was during the Korean War that he was awarded the Victoria Cross for his leadership in defending Hill 217.
On 4th November 1951 the hill came under sustained shellfire which damaged many of their defences. This was followed by an attack by 6,000 Chinese troops, resulting in very fierce hand-to-hand fighting. He displayed great leadership, particularly leading grenade attacks on the Chinese.
At one point, when running out of ammunition he used beer bottles, leading the UK Press to name him the “beer bottle” VC – a name he hated since it implied they were drinking while on duty.
He retired to live at the Royal Hospital Chelsea which is why he is depicted wearing the dress uniform of the Chelsea Pensioner.
A copy of the full citation is under the biographies as well as including details of the medals he is depicted wearing.
The kit now includes a cap as an alternative to the formal tricorn hat.