2nd Lieutenant John Norwood VC

For Valour

2nd Lieutenant John Norwood (8 September 1876 – 8 September 1914) 5th dragoon Guards was awarded his Victoria Cross for his actions on the 30th October 1900.

His Citation reads:

This Officer went out from Ladysmith in charge of a small patrol of the 5th Dragoon Guards. They came under a heavy fire from the enemy, who were posted on a ridge in great force. The patrol, which had arrived within about 600 yards of the ridge, then retired at full speed. One man dropped, and Second Lieutenant Norwood galloped back about 300 yards through heavy fire, dismounted, and picking up the fallen trooper, carried him out of fire on his back, at the same time leading his horse with one hand. The enemy kept up an incessant fire during the whole time that Second Lieutenant Norwood was carrying the man until he was quite out of range.

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John Norwood VC

He served in Transvaal and the Orange River Colony, and was promoted to lieutenant on 27 June 1900. He stayed with the Guards regiment in South Africa until the war ended in May 1902, and left for Calcutta on the SS Umlazi two months later.

Norwood later achieved the rank of captain. He served in the First World War and was killed in action during the First Battle of the Marne at Sablonnieres, France, on 8 September 1914.

The Sphere 13th April 1900.

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Corporal Frank Howard Kirby VC

For Valour.

Corporal Frank Howard Kirby (12 November 1871 – 8 July 1956) Royal Engineers holds not only the Victoria Cross, but also the medal for distinguished Conduct in the field.

He was awarded the Cross for actions on the 2nd June 1900, when he was one of a party  sent to try to cut the Delagoa Bay Railway were retiring, hotly pressed by very superior numbers. During one of the successive retirements of the rearguard, a man, whose horse had been shot, was seen running after his comrades. He was a long way behind the rest of his troop and was under a brisk fire. From among the retiring troop Corporal Kirby turned and rode back to the man’s assistance.

Although by the time he reached him they were under a heavy fire at close range, Corporal Kirby managed to get the dismounted man up behind him and to take him clear off over the next rise held by our rearguard. This is the third occasion on which Corporal Kirby has displayed gallantry in the face of the enemy.

Kirby

Frank Howard Kirby VC

Kirby was appointed a regimental sergeant major at Chatham in 1906. Five years later, in April 1911, he was gazetted with an honorary commission as a lieutenant, appointed a quartermaster,and posted to the newly formed Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers. He attended the first course at the Central Flying School in 1912.

Kirby subsequently transferred to the Royal Flying Corps (which had absorbed the Air Battalion) and he was commissioned as an Equipment Officer. Kirby was appointed the Stores Officer at the Central Flying School. Kirby served at No 1 Aircraft Depot at Saint-Omer in early 1916, and with No 3 Army Aircraft Park in July 1916. In December 1916 he became commanding officer of No 1 Stores Depot at Kidbroke.

He went on to achieve the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Kirby remained in the Royal Air Force after the end of the First World War and was granted a permanent commission as a wing commander in 1920. Kirby was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in July 1926. He eventually retired, with permission to retain the rank of group captain, in December 1926.

The Sphere 30 March 1900 Page 319

Wikipedia

The H.M.S Tiger Disaster 2nd April 1908.

Standing on deck of the Destroyer H.M.S Tiger, Lieutenant W Middleton peered into the darkness, intently searching for any sign of Royal Navy’s Home Fleet.

Earlier in the day he had sailed from Portsmouth as part of the Home Fleet destroyer flotilla, which numbered twelve with orders to engage with the larger vessels of the Home Fleet.

The destroyers were working in pairs, so as to cover as much area as possible. Looking to starboard, Middleton could just make out the shape of H.M.S Recruit, both ships were acting under orders, so were running with no lights and adding to the visibility problems there was heavy rain.

Wrapped in his oilskin, Middleton was at his post by the 12 Pounder Gun in the bows of the ship. He had 57 men under his command and every man was on duty this night. Most were in the engine room, working and stoking the engines. Due to the conditions a large number were on look out duty searching for the pride of the Royal Navy.

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HMS Tiger was a Clydebank -built three funnel 30-knot destroyer purchased by the Royal Navy under the 1899 – 1900 Naval Estimates. She was launched on 19 May 1900. The ship was completed and accepted by the Royal Navy in June 1901.

Despite the exceedingly heavy and rainy conditions, it was an ideal night for delivery of a torpedo and evasion and Middleton had been a lieutenant in the Navy since 1901 and a commander since 1905 so the conditions didn’t faze him.

At a little after 8pm and to the shock of both commanders, the enormous shape of the capital ship H.M.S Prince George, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral Farquhar suddenly loomed out of the darkness.

Unbeknown to both of them, following the Prince George were the heavy cruisers, Berwick, Essex, Argonaut, Forste and Gladiator.

The shock of seeing a Capital Ship emerging from the darkness soon dissipated, and the crews of both destroyers leapt into action. The Recruit was the lead ship and attacked from the port side, both ships firing torpedoes at Prince George.

As the Prince George passed by,  the Tiger instead of following the Recruit, altered her course to port which brought her across the stern of the Prince George but to the horror of Middleton, it also brought her across the course of the following H.M.S Berwick.

On the Berwick the lookouts bellowed a warning but there was no time for evasive manoeuvres and the ship braced itself for impact. On the Tiger the full horror that was about to unfold must have hit Middleton hard.

Berwick

The 9,800 ton H.M.S Berwick.

The 9,800 ton Berwick was travelling at 10 knots and smashed into the 400 ton Tiger between the second and third funnels with such force that the Tiger was torn in two.

The forepart, on which Lieutenant Middleton and most of the deck hands were stationed immediately sank and the afterpart, after floating clear of the cruiser, went down in three minutes. Engineer-Lieutenant Vinning, who was on the afterpart gave orders for every man to come up below and for the boats to be launched, but before this order could be carried out and almost as the last man appeared on deck, the vessel sank.

The Berwick, Gladiator and other vessels in the neighbourhood immediately switched their searchlights on and swept the ocean looking for survivors, they also lowered boats and most of the men who had been stationed on the afterpart of the destroyer, and who were by this time struggling in the water were picked up. Lieutenant Middleton and his men in the Forepart were not so lucky, it sank with all hands.

iddleton

Lieutenant W.E. Middleton. He joined the Navy in 1894 and received his Lieutenancy in 1901.

 

Of the crew of 58 only 23 men were picked up and returned to Spithead.

An official inquiry was set up to look into the circumstances of the sinking and all surviving crew members gave their account of the disaster and were then confined to barracks to stop them giving statements before the proceedings were completed.

A former naval officer gave his opinion to the Standard newspaper:

“After firing at the Prince George, which led the big ship line, the Tiger then passed under the stern of that ship, and in doing so was struck by the Berwick, which was next in astern. There is little reason to believe that the steering gear gave out at the crucial moment. Far more probable is that those on the bridge of the ill fated destroyer never saw the Berwick at all.

The distance between the stern of the Prince George and the bow of the Berwick, supposing the fleet to have been in station at two cables, would have been approximately, 270 yards. The fleet is believed to have been travelling at ten knots, which is the equivalent to a speed of 330 yards a minute.

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Lieutenant Middleton and his Crew of H.M.S Tiger.

The gap through which the Tiger attempted to pass would therefore have been open for, approximately three-quarters of a minute only, during which time the Tiger at 21 Knots, could cover 600 yards. All evidence, therefore is that the destroyer would never intentionally have intended to cut through the line, even apart from the knowledge they would alter course to avoid her torpedoes. Hence the strong assumption that she was ignorant of the Berwick’s position.”

The Deputy Judge Advocate during the Court Martial in Portsmouth certainly agreed with this assessment:

The Court finds that no blame is attributable to any of the surviving members of the crew of the Tiger and that there is no evidence to show why she altered course to port instead of following her leader; and as there is no evidence on this point, the court considers that no blame can attributed to any particular deceased crew member.

The Court is of the opinion that the Berwick must have been visible from the Tiger when she altered her course to port. The court further finds that from the evidence it has had before it, no blame is attributed to any other person for this lamentable accident and that there was not sufficient time from the time of the Tiger been sighted from the Berwick for the latter to have avoided or prevented the collision;  and that the court further consider that, when the collision was seen to be inevitable all proper steps were taken on board the Berwick to lessen the shock collision and save lives. 

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The dead being brought ashore.

List of Crewmen killed:

  1. William E Middleton              Lieutenant and Commander
  2. Christopher J Dunaway         Gunner
  3. Ernest Alexander Kingham  Officer’s Steward 2nd Class
  4. Thomas Worrall                      Stoker 1st Class
  5. Frank Manning                       Stoker 1st Class
  6. James French                           P.O 1st Class
  7. Oliver Goldsmith                    P.O 2nd Class
  8. Ralph Tweed Pickett              Signalman
  9. Frederick Bellamy Carter     A.B
  10. Edward John Pipe                  P.O 2nd Class
  11. Thomas King                           A.B
  12. Joseph Albert Helps               A.B
  13. Frederick George Kinch        A.B
  14. Ernest Matthews                     A.B
  15. Frank Holmes                          Chief Stoker
  16. George Walter Chard              Chief Stoker
  17. Albert Edward Hayles            Stoker Petty Officer
  18. William Colley                         Stoker 1st Class
  19. Willaim Beeson                       Leading Stoker
  20. John St Vincent Shaw             Signalman
  21. Joseph Lightfoot                      Stoker 2nd Class
  22. George Fletcher Dearnly       Stoker 1st Class
  23. William Alfred Crawley         Stoker 2nd Class
  24. Harry Smith                             Stoker 1st Class
  25. George Webb                            Stoker 1st Class
  26. Joseph McGarth                        Stoker 1st Class
  27. John Mitchell                            Stoker 1st Class
  28. William Pritchett                     A.B
  29. Edwin Arthur Rich                  A.B
  30. James Hargreaves                    A.B
  31. George William Readings       Stoker 1st Class (Lent from HMS Amethyst)
  32. Frank Troke                               Stoker 1st Class (Lent from HMS Amethyst)
  33. William Hailwood                    Stoker 1st Class (Lent from HMS Amethyst)
  34. George Secker                           Stoker 1st Class (Lent from HMS Amethyst)
  35. William James Newman*       P.O 1st Class (Lent from HMS Amethyst)

* Picked up but since died.

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Stokers of HMS Tiger. Many died at their post.

The Standard 4th April 1908 Page 7

The Sketch 10th April 1908 page 16

The Illustrated London News 7th April Page 4.

 

 

 

 

Death of a famous War dog.

Death of a famous War dog.

From Colchester is announced the death, by poison, of “Drummer” the celebrated dog of the Northumberland Fusiliers.

“Drummer” belonged to Colonel Ray, principal Medical Officer at the Military Hospital, served through the last Egyptian campaign and was in the fire line at Omdurman, where he snapped at bullets thinking they were flies.

At the beginning of the South African War “Drummer” went out with his regiment and served at Magersfontein, the relief of Kimberley and Wynberg, at which last place he was wounded in the shoulder.

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It was Queen Victoria’s intention to award him a medal, but technical difficulties arose and “Drummer” had to be content with miniature medals and clasp, which though bore no official sanction served to remind his friends of the many battles he had taken part off.

His decorations commemorated the engagements of Diamond Hill, Johannesburg, Paardeberg, Driefontien, Kimberley, Belmont , and Modder River. He had the further distinction of being the only dog which Lord Methuen permitted to accompany his force from Orange River.

The Illustrated London News 1st February 1902.

Forgotten Voices of Empire: Memories of Ladysmith.

“Interview with a Crowborough Man.”

In a interview with a “Courier” reporter, Mr David Buss related how he entered the army in 1895, and was for twelve years in the 2nd Battalion King’s Royal Rifles. He was in South Africa before hostilities broke out and first saw fire on October 15 1899. Incidentally there were three brothers serving during the South African War.

Buss

Mr David Buss a member of the  King’s Royal Rifles during the South African War.

For 118 days the garrison some 10,000 strong, under Sir George White was besieged in Ladysmith. There was also a big civilian population to feed, and horse and mule flesh for the greater part of the period formed a main item in the diet.

Tea leaves and coffee grounds also had their value as “articles” of food, consumable liquids of all kinds were also exceedingly scarce.

“And may I say,” observed Mr Buss at this stage, thirst is worse than starvation, any day!”

Mr Buss kept a diary of the siege, and interesting and revealing extract is given as follows:-

14 lbs oatmeal…………………………………………60/-

Condensed Milk per tin………………………….10/-

1 lb coffee………………………………………………..17/-

Eggs per Dozen………………………………………..48/-

Fowls Each……………………………………………….18/6

1 Doz Tomatoes ……………………………………….18/-

1 Doz Potatoes ………………………………………….19/-

1 Bottle Jam……………………………………………….31/-

1 lb Marmalade…………………………………………31/-

1 Doz matches……………………………………………13/-

1 Pk Cigarettes……………………………………………25/-

50 Cigars………………………………………………………185/-

1/4 lb cake tobacco………………………………………45/-

1/4 lb sailors tobacco…………………………………..43/-

1/4 lb Capstan Naval cut………………………………60/-

(Typical Infantry private’s pay 1/- a day)

“Articles in everyday use such as rice, starch, curry powders etc had vanished long ago. Violet powder was impounded and turned into mysterious blancmanges. Clothing also run short, especially for the feet and men’s stocks were very scarce.

ladysmith-trenches

Trenches around Ladysmith 1899

When a live shell was fired in Ladysmith in honour of the Prince of Wales birthday the whole population were in a ferment of excitement, they had thought it to mark the arrival of relief.

With Mr Buss in Ladysmith was one of his brothers and their numbers were respectively 9196 and 9238. Mr Buss’s brother was servant to Captain Northley now residing at Epsom.

During his Army service Mr Buss was also in India, and was at Delhi when Kind Edward VII was proclaimed and later attended the coronation ceremony.

“Rode in the King’s carriage”  

Mr Buss told the reporter that he was “a 1914 man” in the Great War (Interestingly his Service record states that he didn’t arrive in France until July 1915)  and was wounded in France in 1916 (GSW Left Arm)  and “gassed” in 1917. When in the King George V ward at Charing Cross Hospital he once had the privilege, as Mr Buss put it, of “riding in the King’s carriage.”

He was then transferred to a Bristol Hospital, where King George spoke to him when visiting.

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The Military service of David Buss later of the King’s Royal Rifles 1895-1907

In the later stages of the war he was attached to the Carabineers in Italy and was there when Armistice was signed.

Here, therefore, is a veteran who has been through two major wars. Today Mr Buss is seeking work, and his opinion was given to our representative in these words:

“In times of war it is Tommy this and Tommy that; but afterwards you just aren’t wanted”

However Mr Buss is by no means downhearted, and he meanwhile delights to get hold of an interested listener for his many army reminiscences.

Born is 1875, Mr Buss is a proud Surrey Man.

The Surrey Courier 30th December 1938.

Charge of Light Brigade Veteran

Died in the Workhouse

Centenarian who was in the Light Brigade.

Probably the eldest survivor of the famous Light Brigade and the oldest inmate of the Belfast workhouse died on Sunday in the person of Robert Yeates at the age of 103.

Mr Yeates retained to the last a vivid memory of his adventure in the historical charge at Balaclava. He was born at Killynure, Carryduff near Belfast and joined the 17th Lancers with whom he went to the Crimea with.

Yeates

Robert Yeates 17th Lancers

The Veteran, in an interview some time ago, told a “Telegraph” representative how he remembered being wounded in the charge of the Light Brigade and lying bleeding beside his dead horse all night in the bitter cold.

After his discharge from the Army he served for a number of years on the L.M.S (N.C.C) Railway, and since the death of his wife, six years ago, he has been an inmate of the Belfast’s workhouse.

Unfortunately all his papers and military records were accidentally burned in his home and in the absence of these Army credentials the War Office turned a deaf ear to his appeals of assistance.

His person of 1s 3d a week was stopped by the authorities, and as he had no other means of support and was without any friends was compelled to enter the workhouse. Many applications were made to have his pension renewed, but in the absence of documentary proof even the meagre allowance he had received was not allowed the Crimean Veteran.

Mr Yeate’s only son resides in America and another relative is a sister in law residing in Purdysburn.

Up till the end the centenarian enjoyed his daily smoke, and and chatted happily with his fellow inmates. The workhouse authorities, and especially the Master, Mr James Mahood always saw to it that this aged figure, one of the Empire’s oldest soldiers, was kindly looked after, and his favourite seat was in one of the corridors, underneath a vividly coloured picture of the famous Charge at which he figured.

Ballymena Weekly Telegraph March 27th 1926

 

Sergeant H R Martineau VC

For Valour

Horace Robert Martineau (31 October 1874 – 7 April 1916) of the Protectorate Regiment (N.W. Cape Colony) was awarded his Victoria Cross on the 26th December 1899 in an action near Mafeking.

He originally enlisted in the 11th Hussars and served in India before buying his discharge and emigrating to South Africa.

On the outbreak of the Second Boer War in 1899, Martineau joined the Protectorate Regiment (N.W. Cape Colony) as a sergeant. He was awarded the VC in an action near Mafeking. His citation in the London Gazette reads:

On the 26th December, 1899, during the fight at Game Tree, near Mafeking, when the order to retire had been given, Sergeant Martineau stopped and picked up Corporal Le Camp, who had been struck down about 10 yards from the Boer trenches, and half dragged, half carried, him towards a bush about 150 yards from the trenches.

In doing this Sergeant Martineau was wounded in the side, but paid no attention to it, and proceeded to stanch and bandage the wounds of his comrade, whom he, afterwards, assisted to retire. The firing while they were retiring was very heavy and Sergeant Martineau was again wounded. When shot the second time he was absolutely exhausted from supporting his comrade, and sank down unable to proceed further. He received three wounds, one of which necessitated the amputation of his arm near the shoulder.

martinuea

He was visiting New Zealand when the First World War broke out and he immediately  joined up as a territorial officer in the 14th (South Otago) Regiment, and enlisted as a Lieutenant. He subsequently served in Suez and at Gallipoli with the New Zealand Infantry Brigade, New Zealand and Australian Division of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps ANZAC.

After falling ill he was evacuated to Egypt but was involved in an altercation with two other officers which which involved Martineau’s use of insubordinate language. After an investigation of the charge the Commandant of Base Headquarters Alexandria, Brigadier-General McGregor, sent a letter to General Headquarters at Mudros on 21 September 1915 recommending that as Martineau was in possession of the VC “his services be dispensed with without trial and that he be sent back to New Zealand”

He was stuck off the strength of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force but fell ill again and died in Dunedin Hospital. As the illness was a continuation of the sickness he first contracted while on Gallipoli, Martineau was categorised as having died after discharge from the NZEF from disease contracted while on active service, and was included in the roll of honour listing New Zealand’s war dead.

The Sphere 13th April 1901.