As early as August 1914, the opening month of the war, Private Edgar Bush, serving with the 3rd (King’s Own) Hussars became the first man to be decorated.
In recognition of his actions during the British withdrawal after the Battle of Mons, he was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), the highest award for gallantry after the Victoria Cross.
Edgar was the son of Mr & Mrs Timothy Bush who lived in Willow Vale, the area of the town running alongside the River Frome and which had experienced some of the worst of the flooding at the end of December 1914. He joined the Regiment seven years previously and when war broke out the Regiment was stationed in Shorncliffe Kent.
The 3rd Hussars deployed to France on 17th August 1914, as part of the British Expeditionary Force, and took part in the Battle of Mons. It was after the battle that Private Bush performed his act of Heroism for which he was decorated.
The citation read:
“For gallantry and coolness displayed at Longueuil on 13th August 1914, when on patrol duty he successfully ambushed ten German cavalrymen.”
Edgar along with a comrade had become parted from their Squadron when they saw a nearby German Patrol. They hid in straw sacks as the Patrol passed and then rushed to inform the remainder of his Squadron. Edgar’s quick thinking and placing of his Troop into ambush positions forward of the enemy ensured all 10 Uhlans were killed when he initiated the ambush.
In May 1915, after receiving notification he was to be awarded the medal, he wrote to his parents at Willow Vale to tell them the news, “ You will be pleased to hear I have been awarded the DCM, I think it is a big honour, don’t you.”
On the same day his parents received his letter he sat down and wrote another to his brother: “I don’t think I told you, did I that I have got the DMC?
I was rather surprised when I heard of it, but the Captain told me if anyone deserved it, I did. So I guess I earned it somewhere.” Also in this letter a reference to a deadly new weapon introduced at Ypres.
“We thought we were going to catch it on Sunday when the Germans started using gas, but it did not quite reach us, and our Infantry did not half pay when they started to come out. However, we scraped through once more.”