The Tank Museum | Recipient

Henry Robert Bowreman, VC Foote

FOOTE, Major-General Henry Robert Bowreman, VC

Henry Foote was born in India in 1904. His mother died in 1906, when he returned to England with his father. He was commissioned into the Royal Tank Corps in 1925 and spent most of his pre-war service in India. He became GSO 1 of 10th Armoured Division in Palestine in 1941 and took part in the crushing of the Raschid Ali rebellion in Iraq and in the invasion of Syria, earning the DSO, before taking over command of the 7th Royal Tank Regiment in the Western Desert.

Lieutenant-Colonel Foote was awarded his Victoria Cross in 1942 while taking part in the Gazala Battles, in the Western Desert. One of his outstanding actions involved delaying the Germans, while the Guards Brigade withdrew from Knightsbridge, Lt-Col Foote placed his own tank in front of the others, so that he could be plainly seen in the turret as an encouragement to the other crews.

Shortly after the Gazala battles, Lt-Col Foote was captured, after breaking his leg, escaping from Tobruk. He became a prisoner of war in Italy in 1942, but escaped to Switzerland in 1943. There he was interned, but was allowed to work at the British Legation. After his release he held numerous senior positions, culminating in Director of the Royal Armoured Corps at the War Office. After retirement he became Chairman of the Trustees of the Tank Museum and was the subject of "This is Your Life" on television in 1986. He died in 1993 aged 88.

Tales of valour

Victoria Cross

Victoria Cross

FOOTE H.R.B. (Colonel)

7th Royal Tank Regiment

For outstanding gallantry during the periods 27th May to 15th June, 1942.

On 6th June, Lt.Col. Foote led his Battalion, which had been subjected to very heavy artillery fire, in pursuit of a superior force of the enemy. While changing to another tank after his own had been knocked out, Lt.Col. Foote was wounded in the neck. In spite of this he continued to lead his Battalion from an exposed position on the outside of a tank.

On June 13th, when ordered to delay the enemy's tanks so that the Guards Brigade could be withdrawn from the Knightsbridge escarpment and when the first wave of our tanks had been destroyed, Lieutenant Colonel Foote re-organized the remaining tanks, going on foot from one tank to another to encourage the crews under intense artillery and anti-tank fire.

As it was of vital importance that his battalion should not give ground, Lieutenant Colonel Foote placed his tank, which he had then entered, in front of the others so that he could be plainly visible in the turret as an encouragement to the other crews, in spite of the tank being badly damaged by shell-fire and all its guns rendered useless. By his magnificent example the corridor was kept open and the brigade was able to march through.

Lieutenant Colonel Foote was always at the crucial point at the right moment, and over a period of several days gave an example of outstanding courage and leadership that it would have been difficult to surpass. His name was a byword for bravery and leadership throughout the brigade.



1939-45 STAR