Tuesday 12 May 2020

Thomas Henry Sage VC (1882–1945)

Thomas Henry Sage VC

The Devonian Year Book for 1918 has a good write up of the Tiverton WW1 Victoria Cross awardee Thomas Sage:

During the year 1917 a Devonian has again been awarded the much-coveted honour of the Victoria Cross. The recipient is Private Thomas Henry Sage, of Tiverton, who was formerly in the Devon Regiment, but is now in the Somerset Light Infantry. The award is officially stated to be:

"For most conspicuous bravery during an attack on an enemy strong post. He was in a shell hole with eight other men, one of whom was shot while in the act of throwing a bomb. The live bomb fell into the shell hole, and Private Sage, with great courage and presence of mind, immediately threw himself on it, thereby undoubtedly saving the lives of several comrades, though he himself sustained very severe wounds."

Private Sage, who is thirty-six years of age, is a married man, with a family of four little children, the eldest of whom, a girl of ten, takes a gratified and intelligent interest in her father's honourable record. He is a native of Tiverton, his father being a mason, formerly in the employ of the Tiverton Town Council. His sister is working at munitions in Tiverton. As a boy he attended Chilcott's School, of which Mr. Cowell was master.

For several years Private Sage worked as a blacksmith for Mr. Pethick at his forge in Newport Street. Subsequently he was employed at Messrs. Starkey, Knight & Ford's brewery at Tiverton. He bore an excellent character, as a steady, hard-working, unassuming man. Moreover, he was of good physique, vigorous, and robust. Early in the war he joined up, being one of 37 men who went voluntarily from the brewery, and he has since seen much service, first with the Devons, and more recently with the Somerset Light Infantry.

Private Sage's wife is living at Bartow's Causeway, Tiverton, and she recently heard through a letter from her husband that the Colonel had notified him that he had been recommended for the highest award for bravery in the field, but, with the modesty characteristic of heroes, he asked her to keep it quiet and not let everybody know, lest the papers should get hold of it. In conversation, Mrs. Sage let fall a few sentences which threw a gleam of radiance not only upon the man's heroism, but also upon his wife's modest acceptance of it. She said: "I remarked in one of my letters to him — 'You don't seem to have thought about yourself.'" His reply was: "Well, they were all married men in my company, and I thought one life was better than the lives of them all. I don't know what gave me the presence of mind to do it." The wife, with happy tears in her eyes, added, after repeating the words of her husband: "It must have been God".

At a meeting of the Tiverton Town Council, convened for another purpose, the Mayor announced to the Council the fact that for the first time in the history of the borough a Tivertonian had won the V.C, and moved that a letter of congratulation be sent to Private Sage. The announcement was received with acclamation. Councillor Salter seconded the proposition ; and it was carried unanimously. The flag was hoisted at the Town Hall in honour of the event.

Private Sage was then in hospital at Epsom, recovering from his wounds. He has lost his right eye; but the eyelid, which was shot away, has been restored by skilful surgery. A jagged piece of shrapnel has been removed from his thigh.

Some other web pages about Thomas Sage:

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