Major Robert Henry Cain VC (1909-1974)
Gallant and Distinguished Soldier
The only Manxman to be awarded the Victoria Cross, receiving it for gallantry at the Battle of Arnhem during the Second World War.
Robert Henry Cain was born in Shanghai to Manx parents, and was educated at King William's College. He then joined the Shell Petroleum Company, working in the Far East and West Africa.
During the Second World War, as a Company Commander in the 1st Airborne Division, he took part in a mass parachute drop over Arnhem in an attempt to capture a strategically important bridge. Reinforcements failed to arrive, and Major Cain and his men were cut off for six days. During that time he attacked several German tanks even though he was wounded. He moved constantly amongst his men, urging them to hold out.
For his part in the battle he was awarded the Victoria Cross, the only Manxman ever to receive the honour. The citation read, ‘throughout the whole course of the battle of Arnhem Major Cain showed superb gallantry. His powers of endurance and leadership were the admiration of all his fellow officers. His coolness and courage under incessant fire could not be surpassed’.
After the war he returned to work for Shell, before retiring to the Island in 1972. The chapel at St. Bridget's Hospice in Douglas is dedicated to his memory, as is a scholarship at King William's. In 1981 the Isle of Man Post Office issued a stamp in commemoration of his bravery at Arnhem.
Coolness and courage under fire