"MC" - Military Cross or Merry Christmas

Published in Community Voice December 2023

MC (Military Cross) brings thoughts of bravery in war. As we leave behind the November Community Voice landmark (the War memorial at Coleorton) and annual services to honour those in past wars, we are all too aware of the victims of current conflicts around the world.

MC also stands for Merry Christmas, a time for peace, love, care and understanding. Let us hope that these virtues will eventually prevail.

One hundred and one years ago on 17/9/1922, a procession, including the twice injured Sir George Beaumont (11th Bart), his mother, Rev & Mrs J Philpott and other dignitaries arrived where the War Memorial had originally been erected. There, Rev. Philpott led the service and read the names on THE ROLE OF HONOUR, including his own son, Captain John Philpott MC of the Royal Flying Corps who had died as a POW on 15/01/1918 after trying to rescue colleagues whose plane had crash landed in enemy territory. His MC previously awarded (20/10/1916) for his conspicuous gallantry & skill.

Two weeks before on 02/01/1918 another service man of the Australian Infantry Brigade was awarded an MC for his bravery as an officer leading his men under heavy enemy fire. He had been gassed and shot in his arm. Lieutenant Leopold Little from Werribee, Victoria, Australia spent convalescent leave as a military Christmas guest of Mrs Abel-Smith at Coleorton Hall, where he wrote this letter to his mother in Australia:

Cole Orton Hall, England
3 / 1 /1918

Dear Mother
Rather a hurried line this time, as I wish merely to tell you what a magnificent place this is. “T’is a huge castle”, and occupied by the wealthiest of people - the Able-Smith’s … I only arrived yesterday, and shall be here about three weeks … to get fit for the Flying Corps. Mrs Smith is such a nice woman, and always has two or three officers staying at the house. There is a large billiard-room, ballroom, smokeroom and library; and butlers are everywhere at your beck and call … at present the ground is covered with snow, and I have been amusing myself tobogganing down the hills …

Two brave men both receiving an MC … both having connections with Coleorton … one died, one survived to have another MC, a Merry Christmas, where love, care & understanding prevailed.

Compiled by: Elaine Oldham


  • University of Oxford – John Reginald Philpott MC
  • TROVE – Letter from the Front. April 20, 1918

More about local heroes: