< From Islington to Egypt, Palestine and Syria
This animation was created by young people in Islington in August 2017, working with Islington Museum and Chocolate Films. It follows the story of Jock Christie, V.C.
You can find out more about Jock’s story on the Friends of Islington Museum website. In brief, this is a timeline of Jock’s wartime experiences:
14 May 1895
Jock was born in Edmonton, North London.
Jock left school aged 14 and started work as a junior accounts clerk for the London and North Western Railway. He was based in the parcels department at Euston Station.
1 September 1914
Jock joined the Finsbury Rifles, based near Euston Station at 17, Penton Street, Pentonville. He then went on training in Sussex, Norfolk and near St Albans.
Jock travelled to Liverpool to embark on HMS Aquitania.
11 August 1915
Jock landed with his battalion at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli.
15 August 1915
The Finsbury Rifles, along with other regiments, attacked the Ottoman forces. Jock was shot in his head and left knee. His injuries were serious enough for him to be evacuated first to Alexandria, Egypt and then back home to St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.
Once recovered, Jock sailed from Devonport to rejoin the Finsbury Rifles in Egypt, guarding the strategically important Suez Canal, from Ottoman attack.
Jock, alongside the rest of his battalion, took part in the gruelling march across the Sinai desert to engage the Ottoman soldiers at on Gaza, Palestine.
19 April 1917
In the Second Battle of Gaza, the Finsbury Rifles lost over a third of their officers and men, Jock’s friends and comrades. This must have affected Jock deeply.
The Rifles withdrew to the Sheikh Abbas Ridge and hurriedly dug new trenches and communication lines. They ended up sheltering there all summer.
During this time, like many other soldiers, Jock became ill. Besides suffering an attack of severe sunstroke, he had severe conjunctivitis and was sent to hospital again.
Jock and the Finsbury Rifles took part in the Third Battle of Gaza. This attack was successful; the soldiers broke through the enemy defences to find that the Ottoman Forces had evacuated Gaza. Jock was promoted to lance corporal.
20 December 1917
The Finsbury Rifles were ordered to cross the Ayun River near Jaffa to attack the enemy positions. Their task was to seize a nearby hill from which they could fire at the Ottoman and German trenches on Bald Hill. The Rifles, including Jock, seized the hill and held on to it against three determined counter-attacks by the German and Ottoman forces.
Jock’s Victoria Cross citation takes up the story…
‘…the enemy immediately made counter-attacks up the communication trenches. Lance-Corporal Christie, seeing what was happening, took a supply of bombs and went alone about 50 yards in the open along the communication trench and bombed the enemy. He continued to do this in spite of heavy opposition until a block had been established. On his way back he bombed more of the enemy who were moving up the trench. His prompt action cleared a difficult position at a most difficult time and saved many lives… he showed the greatest coolness and a total disregard for his own safety…’
Jock was wounded in the wrist and knee during ‘slight opposition’ taking Mejdel Jaba. Still recovering in hospital, Jock missed the final defeat of the Ottoman Forces.
While the Finsbury Rifles went back to Egypt, Jock returned to England and received his Victoria Cross from King George V at Buckingham Palace.
10 September 1967
Jock Christie died, having hardly ever spoken about his wartime experiences..
A memorial plaque to Jock Christie was unveiled at Euston Station by Kenneth Christie, Jock’s son.