Foremost Pals historian BILL TURNER recounts the story of the Pal who won the VC, the nation's top honour for gallantry.
SECOND Lieutenant Basil Horsfall was born on 4 October 1887, the youngest son of Mr W F Horsfall, of Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
He was educated in England and returned to Colombo to work as an accountant.
In July 1916 he left Ceylon for England and was gazetted in the 1st Battalion East Lancashire Regiment on 19 December 1916.
Basil was wounded in May 1917 and was transferred to the 11th Battalion (the Pals) on 24 October 1917.
On Thursday 21 March 1918 the Germans launched a massive attack on the British positions on the Western Front. The attack caught the British by surprise and the Germans quickly broke through the front line.
The 31st Division, of which the Pals were a part, was ordered to move forward to halt the German advance.
On 27 March the Pals came under a very heavy attack as the Germans attempted to capture the village of Ayette, south of Arras. The Germans stormed the Pals' positions again and again, with each side suffering heavy casualties.
2/Lt Horsfall was in command of the centre company which held the ridge along which ran the road from Ablainzeville to Moyenneville. It was the key to the battalion's defence. During the attacks 2/Lt Horsfall's forward sections were driven back and he himself was wounded in the head.
In spite of his wound, he reorganised the remainder of his men and attacked and regained his original positions.
Two of his three officers were killed and the other wounded at this time. Because of this he refused, in spite of his severe head wound, to go to a dressing station.
Again and again he and his men withdrew because of heavy shellfire and again and again he ordered a counter-attack which regained the positions.
Lt/Col Rickman ordered the battalion to retire "in good order'' to Adinfer Wood, just north of Ayette.
When 2/Lt Horsfield received the order he was the last to leave the company positions. Although exhausted, he said he could have held on if necessary.
The citation in the London Gazette, dated 23 May 1918, for the award of the Victoria Cross, stated it was "for the most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty''.
The citation ended: "His conduct was a most splendid example to his men and he showed throughout the utmost disregard for danger. This very gallant officer was killed when returning to the positions in the rear.''
In 1985 ex-Private Arthur Cheetham described a little of what happened.
He said: "The order to retire came. Before we set off, 2/Lt Horsfall shouted 'every man for himself'. Terrible words but a terrible situation to be in.
"2/Lt Horsfall was on my left as we started to cross an old airfield but 20 yards after we started he simply wasn't there. Our company lost about 25 men crossing that airfield. There were five of us in my party and two didn't make it. Of all the time I spent in France that was a day I will never forget.''
Mr Cheetham died in 1989. In 1987 he had his first ever X-ray. Unknown to him there was a bullet lodged in his chest. It was decided to leave it where it had been for almost 70 years.
The price paid by the Pals for their heroic resistance in halting the German advance was a total of 343 officers and men killed, wounded and missing. Eight others died later of their wounds. Sixty six, including 2/Lt Horsfall, have no known grave. They are commemorated on the Arras Memorial.
In a tribute to their courage, the battalion received, in addition to 2/Lt Horsfall's Victoria Cross, two Distinguished Service Orders, one Bar to the DSO (Lt/Col Rickman), seven Military Crosses, three Distinguised Conduct Medals and 14 Military Medals.