Theodore Wright

Theodore Wright : First World War

Theodore Wright was born in Brighton on 15th May 1883. Wright was educated at Clifton College and went to the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. In October 1902 he joined the Royal Engineers and after serving in Gibraltar and Cairo he was made Lieutenant in June 1905.

At the start of the First World War Captain Wright was serving in the 56th Field Company of the Royal Engineers. He was immediately sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force and arrived at Mons on 22nd August, 1914. The following day he was detailed to supervise the destruction of eight of the bridges over the canal. Although wounded by shrapnel early in the operation, Wright continued to set charges under the bridges. Working with Lance-Corporal Charles Jarvis, Wright managed to destroy Jemappes Bridge.

Captain Theodore Wright recovered from his wounds but on the 14th September he was killed while helping an injured man across a pontoon bridge at Vailly. The Victoria Cross was awarded posthumously on 16th November 1914.

Primary Sources

(1) Corporal Charles Jarvis, statement made in August 1914.

The work on the bridge was done under fire from three sides. Near the bridge I found Captain Theodore Wright, wounded in the head. I wished to bandage him but he said, "Go back to the bridge." It must be done - and so I went."

(2) The Sapper (February, 1915)

Lance-Corporal Jarvis and Sapper Neary were detailed with B Company Royal Scots Fusiliers, and ordered to prepare one of the bridges for demolition in case of retirement. During the work of placing the charges of the fire of the enemy gradually increased in violence. Lance Corporal Jarvis despatched Sapper Neary to obtain the exploder and leads, which were in the possession of another party under Corporal Wiltshire.

Lance-Corporal was called upon to destroy the bridge, but was still without the exploder and leads, as the sapper had not returned. He crawled out over the bank, and got into the street, where he commandeered a bicycle from a Belgian, and was riding towards the market square to find the exploder himself, when he met Captain Wright, who was then wounded in the head. Wright told Jarvis to go back to the bridge and be prepared to connect up the leads, as he would fetch them in a motor car, and taking the bicycle from Jarvis, went off to fetch the necessary articles.

Jarvis returned to his former position to await the return of Captain Wright. After working for about one and half hours Jarvis did finally manage to successfully fire the charges for the bridge's demolition, which probably saved the lives of many British troops.

(3) Lt. Colonel Wilson, letter to Theodore's mother, Arabella Wright.

No one has earned a VC better, and I am truly glad they have given it to him. I have known him so long, and I have always been very fond of him. He was one of the finest officers I have ever had, and I feel his loss every day.