A NEW display has been opened at a military museum to commemorate the 100 years since the Victoria Cross (VC) was awarded to war veteran Alexander Lafone.

The temporary exhibition has been created at the Royal Signals Museum in Blandford, featuring the actual VC on loan from Major Lafone’s old school, Dulwich College, by kind permission of its governors.

The display also contains documents and photographs relating to the Battle of Buqqar Ridge in 1917. 

It was for his extraordinary bravery during this battle that Major Lafone was awarded the VC – the highest award that a British serviceman can receive.

Attending the launch of the display was a variety of local figures, including the Mayor of Blandford, Royal Signals Corps Colonel Simon Hutchinson and chairman of the museum’s board of trustees Ted Flint.

An incredible four generations of Major Lafone’s extended family also came to the event.

One of their number, ten-year-old William Greenshields, was given the special privilege of holding the VC.

Alexander Malins Lafone was born on August 19, 1870, and joined the army at the age of 19 when he became part of the 49th Imperial Yeomanry, serving in the South African War as a sergeant.

During operations in the Transvaal that same year he was wounded in his right eye and won the Queen’s South Africa Medal.

At the outbreak of the First World War Lafone, now a Major, was commanding B Squadron of the Middlesex Yeomanry.

While commanding the squadron in Palestine near the Great Buqqar Rudge, between Gaza and Beersheba, on October 27, 1917, he and his men came under heavy attack from an overwhelming Turkish force at dawn.

They managed to hold their position until midmorning, when the squadron’s position was overrun. 

Fighting and leading his men to the end, regardless of personal danger, Major Lafone was killed at approximately 11.15am. 

For this act of extraordinary gallantry he was awarded the Victoria Cross. 

Part of the official citation for Major Lafone’s VC reads: “For most conspicuous bravery, leadership and self-sacrifice, when holding a position for over seven hours against vastly superior enemy forces.”