Annand was invested with the Victoria Cross by King George VI at Buckingham Palace on September 3 1940. Air raid warning sirens had been sounded shortly before the ceremony and the investiture was held inside the Palace instead of the quadrangle.
Richard Wallace Annand, always known as Dickie, was born on November 5 1914 at South Shields, County Durham. His father, Lt-Commander WM Annand, was killed at Gallipoli the following year. On leaving Pocklington School in East Yorkshire, Annand joined the National Provincial Bank for whom he worked first at South Shields and later in Rugby and London.
Annand had always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and go into the Navy. In 1933, while at South Shields, he became a midshipman in the Tyne Division of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. In 1936, he was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant and attended a navigation course at Portsmouth and a gunnery course at Whale Island. In 1937 his application for a regular Navy commission was turned down because of his age. The following year he was gazetted Second Lieutenant in the supplementary reserve of The Durham Light Infantry.
Attached to the 2nd Battalion, The DLI, Annand landed in France in September 1939. As a result of wounds received in the action in Belgium in May 1940 he was invalided back to England but rejoined the re-formed Battalion at Bridlington the following month.
In June 1941, as a result of rifle practice on the ranges Annand lost what remained of his hearing and was discharged from the 2nd Battalion. In September he was appointed Instructor at the Commando Training Centre at Inverailort Castle, Inverness-shire.
In January 1942, Annand was posted to the Young Soldiers DLI Training Battalion at Brancepeth Castle, County Durham. In March he moved to Elgin as GS03, training the Home Guard. In December he was seconded to Gordonstoun School, then under the headmastership of Kurt Hahn, where he instructed the cadet force in pre-service training.
In July 1943 Annand was appointed Instructor at the Highland Fieldcraft Centre at Glenfeshie in the Cairngorms. In November he was posted to the War Office in Mayfair. He was offered a commission in the Pay Corps, but declined, and in 1948 he was invalided out of the Army.
In 1948, Annand became Personnel Officer at Finchale Abbey Training Centre for the Disabled, near Durham. Most of the rest of his life he devoted to helping the disabled.
After giving a speech in which he proposed a club for the hard of hearing, he was deluged with letters, and became a founder member of the British Association for the Hard of Hearing, which still exists as Hearing Concern. He also helped to set up the Durham County Association for the Disabled, where his role was more than administrative; he provided transport, often carrying members to his car. He also thought training the disabled little good without finding them work, and once loaded four tailors in his car and took them to London, where he found them jobs. He was president of his local branch of the British Legion, of the Dunkirk Veterans Association and of the St James’s Art Society for the Deafened.
In 1956 Annand became a Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Durham and he was president of the Durham branch of the Light Infantry Club until 1998. In retirement his main recreation was golf.
In February 1979, at the age of 64, Annand saved his wife from drowning in the River Tyne after the two of them had dined aboard Bacchante. The next day one local newspaper paper carried the headline: “War hero rescues wife from drowning.” Another had “Durham magistrate falls in Tyne after naval party”. Annand confined himself to the gentle observation that perhaps the reporting said more about the newspapers than about himself.
Annand married, in 1940, Shirley Osborne. They celebrated their Diamond Wedding Anniversary on November 9 2000. There were no children.” (Obituary courtesy of the Daily Telegraph)
REEL 1 Background in GB, 1914-1939: family origins; father’s background and military service; effect of his father’s death at Gallipoli; education; membership of Officer Training Corps at Pocklington School; employment in bank; enlistment and training with Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve from 1933; reason for transfer from bank in Rugby to one in City of London.
REEL 2 Continues: Aspects of period as officer on Army Supplementary Reserve with 2nd Bn Durham Light Infantry in GB, 1938-1939: reasons for enlisting with Army Supplementary Reserve; joining unit at Woking; memories of company commander Ambrose Appleby; opinion of Lieutenant Colonel Victor Yate; adapting to army customs; atmosphere in mess; question of officer qualities; weapons training at Bisley; opinion of revolvers and grenades; relations with other ranks in his platoon; studying for entrance exam to Royal Military College, Sandhurst; function of Army Supplementary Reserve. Aspects of period as officer with 2nd Bn Durham Light Infantry, 6th Infantry Bde, 2nd Infantry Div in France, 9/1939-5/1940: rejoining battalion at Woking, GB, 9/1939; move to France, 25/9/1939; billeting in Cherbourg area; move to French/Belgian border, 10/1939; role of unit in construction of Gort Line; question of officers not digging trenches.
REEL 3 Continues: story of visit from brigadier whilst he was digging trench; character of billets; story of finding First World War letter written by German officer; commanding detachment digging underground Corps headquarters at Douai; leave in GB, 3/1940. Recollections of operations as officer with D Coy, 2nd Bn Durham Light Infantry, 6th Infantry Bde, 2nd Infantry Div in France and Belgium, 5/1940: patrol on eve of German attack at Douai, 9/5/1940; opening fire on German aircraft; lack of effect on morale of German air attacks; advance into Belgium to River Dyle; character of positions on River Dyle; deployment of unit on River Dyle.
REEL 4 Continues action for which he was awarded Victoria Cross visit to forward positions; arrival of German forces in area; unit counter-attack against German forces; performance of his platoon; under German mortar fire; platoon morale; memories of Sergeant Terry O’Neil; problems of communication under fire; wounding in arm and evacuation. Aspects of period as officer with 2nd Bn Durham Light Infantry, 6th Infantry Bde, 2nd Infantry Div in GB, 1940-1941: rejoining unit at Bridlington, 7/1940; gazetting of award of Victoria Cross, 8/1940; background to leaving battalion due to hearing loss, 1941; role as instructor after leaving unit; degree of media attention received on winning Victoria Cross.