Belfast Telegraph

War hero David Nelson who defied injury to repel enemy honoured in Monaghan

By Joanne Sweeney

A war hero who fought on with serious injuries despite being ordered to retreat has been honoured with a blue plaque.

Major David Nelson became the first Ulsterman to win the Victoria Cross for his bravery in the fierce fighting at Nery at the Battle of Mons in France during the First World War.

One hundred years to the day when he became the last man to retreat from the battle, his hometown of Monaghan paid tribute to his bravery with an Ulster History Circle plaque.

The then 28-year-old Sergeant Nelson – a gunner with 'L' Battery of the Royal Horse Artillery –was involved in fighting that had started early on September 1, 1914, and was described as highly destructive.

Three of the battery's six guns were ruined before fire could be returned at the German 4th Cavalry division, and another two were destroyed later.

Nelson was seriously wounded, and his unit was vastly outnumbered and under heavy fire.

The order to withdraw and take cover was given, but he and two others decided to fight back.

Nelson brought his final gun into action and – under heavy bombardment – fought until the last shell had been fired.

He was again injured in the fighting and was captured by the Germans only to escape a short time later.

He became the latest person to be honoured when the Ulster History Circle and The Ulster-Scots Agency unveiled the plaque at his family's former church, Cahans Presbyterian Church, in Monaghan on Monday.

His son Victor Cyril Nelson was born the year after his father was awarded the VC, and he was named in honour of the medal.

Now aged 98, Victor lives in Seattle in the US and is said to be "overjoyed" to learn that his father was being acknowledged for his bravery.

Chris Spurr, chairman of the Ulster History Circle, said: "David Nelson is being commemorated 100 years to the day in which his valour won him the Victoria Cross in one of the early actions of World War One.

"The Ulster History Circle is delighted to honour David Nelson with this blue plaque placed on the church where his family worshipped."

Major Nelson originally enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery in 1904. After transferring to the Royal Horse Artillery, he was promoted to sergeant before leaving for France. His Victoria Cross and the gun he fired are on show at the Imperial War Museum, London.

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