Godfrey Meynell

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Godfrey Meynell
Born(1904-05-30)30 May 1904
Meynell Langley, Derbyshire
Died29 September 1935(1935-09-29) (aged 31)
Khyber Pass, India
Guides Chapel, Mardan
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Indian Army
Years of service1926–1935
Unit12th Frontier Force Regiment
Battles/wars1935 Mohmand Campaign
AwardsVictoria Cross
Military Cross
RelationsGodfrey Meynell MBE (son)
Godfrey Meynell (Grandson)
Clare B Dimyon MBE (grand-daughter)
Hugo Anthony Meynell (son)

Godfrey Meynell VC, MC (30 May 1904 – 29 September 1935) was a British Indian Army officer and an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Early life and education[edit]

Meynell was the son of an army officer and won a scholarship to Eton College. He was commended to Cyril Connolly when he arrived there as a boy with character. After an initial amount of bullying, the two became firm friends as described in Enemies of Promise.[1]

Military career[edit]

Meynell had graduated 13th at Sandhurst before he volunteered for the British Indian Army. He was awarded the Military Cross in 1933 for his work in Chitral.[2]

Victoria Cross[edit]

Meynell was thirty-one years old, and a captain in the 5th Battalion (Queen Victoria's Own Corps of Guides), 12th Frontier Force Regiment during the 1935 Mohmand Campaign in British India.

On 29 September 1935 at Mohmand, in the Nahaqi Pass within the Khyber Pass on the North West Frontier, in the final phase of an attack, Captain Meynell, seeking information on the most forward troops, found them involved in a struggle against an enemy vastly superior in numbers. He at once took command, and with two Lewis guns and about thirty men, maintained a heavy and accurate fire on the advancing enemy, whose overwhelming numbers nevertheless succeeded in reaching the position and putting the Lewis guns out of action. In the hand-to-hand struggle which ensued, Captain Meynell was mortally wounded, but the heavy casualties inflicted on the enemy prevented them from exploiting their success.[3]

Regimental records suggest that when the bodies of his men were mutilated by the enemy (as was their custom), Captain Meynell sought to defend those bodies even as he himself was dying. Captain Meynell and his wife, Sophia Patricia (Jill) Meynell, were both speakers of Urdu.

His body is laid to rest at the Guides Chapel in Mardan, near Peshawar in the North West Frontier Province (of what is now Pakistan), where he and his wife Sophia Patricia (but known as Jill) née Lowis were married. According to shipping records, his widow returned to England with their eldest son accompanied by her twin brother (and his brother officer) Jack Lowis and they arrived in England after a 10 day sea journey at the end of October, within one month of Godfrey Meynell VC MC's death.

Three months after he was killed, news of the award of the VC arrived at Meynell Langley on 24 December 1935. Three months later their 2nd son, Hugo Anthony Meynell, was born on 24 March 1936 and less than three months later his widow Jill (Sophia Patricia née Lowis) received the VC at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on 14 July 1936, the only one to be handed out by Edward VIII.


  1. ^ Cyril Connolly Enemies of Promise Routledge & Kegan Paul 1938
  2. ^ London Gazette
  3. ^ "No. 34235". The London Gazette. 29 October 1920. p. 8291.