First World War: Barking’s Victoria Cross hero Job Drain commemorated in new book

Job Drain's Victoria Cross will be commemorated with a new stone

Job Drain's Victoria Cross will be commemorated with a new stone - Credit: Archant

One hundred years ago, a global war began that saw more than 16million people killed and a further 20m wounded. In this week’s feature to mark the centenary of the First World War, Sophie Morton finds out how the story of Barking’s own war hero is being told to a new audience.

The statue of Job Drain VC in Barking Broadway (pic: Dweller under Creative Commons licence CC-BY-SA

The statue of Job Drain VC in Barking Broadway (pic: Dweller under Creative Commons licence CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons) - Credit: Archant

The actions of Barking’s Victoria Cross hero Job Drain have been immortalised in a new book.

Historian Paul Oldfield has published the first of nine volumes covering every VC medal awarded on the Western Front during the First World War.

Job’s actions at Le Cateau in the very first month of the war saw him awarded the prestigious military medal.

“The first he knew about it was when he was informed the king wanted to see him,” said Paul, who retired from the Army himself three years ago.

Paul Oldfield

Paul Oldfield - Credit: Paul Oldfield


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In his 36-year military career, Paul spent many days on the battlefields, which led to a desire to find out where the Victoria Cross action took place.

“Some things were flavour of the month for a while for getting a VC,” he explained.

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“At the start, it was rescuing guns, and later on it was rescuing other soldiers, until they discouraged it because too many lives were being lost.”

The series, which will feature all the war’s 492 Victoria Cross winners on the Western Front, has started with the 59 men who were awarded the medal between August 1914 and April 1915.

This picture is from the forward edge of 37 Battery's position at Le Cateau, where the battle took p

This picture is from the forward edge of 37 Battery's position at Le Cateau, where the battle took place, and shows how exposed it was on the high ground. Le Cateau church is in the middle distance (pic: Paul Oldfield) - Credit: Paul Oldfield

Part of the 37th Battery, Job held the rank of Driver when he volunteered to help Capt Douglas Reynolds recapture two guns on August 26, 1914.

“They were being shot at by the Germans from just 100 metres away,” said Paul.

“He was running alongside a horse and when the soldier on it was shot dead, he jumped on it and carried on.”

Job, Capt Reynolds and another soldier, Driver Frederick Luke, all received the Victoria Cross for their actions.

The two guns rescued in Job's VC action were on the right of this track. The horse teams galloped up

The two guns rescued in Job's VC action were on the right of this track. The horse teams galloped up from the distance and dragged one gun away, but the other team was knocked out and the last gun had to be abandoned (pic: Paul Oldfield) - Credit: Paul Oldfield

On returning to Barking after the war, his medal meant his life was set to change.

Paul added: “There was a ceremony in Barking where he was given a purse of gold and a watch.

“He was one of the VC winners to form a guard of honour at the internment of the Unknown Warrior in 1920.”

Paul, who also runs private battlefield tours for people wishing to trace where their ancestors fought or fell, has included a comprehensive biography of each of the winners of the military’s highest award.

The cover of Paul Oldfield's book

The cover of Paul Oldfield's book - Credit: Pen and Sword

Born in 1885, Job attended Barking Church of England School and enlisted in the army in 1912. He went into the reserves in 1919, where he was discharged with the rank of Sergeant in 1924.

He married Patricia Murray in 1919 and had two children, living in Barking until his death in 1975. There is a blue plaque commemorating his former address in Greatfields Road, as well as a bronze statue of him in Barking Broadway.

Read more:

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Barking’s VC hero Job Drain to receive commemorative stone

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