The Lions of Empire. Six Winners of the Victoria Cross.

Among the survivors of the Siege of Delhi there are eight winners of the Victoria Cross. Two of these are absent from this group, General Sir Dighton Probyn and Sir E.T Thackeray.

VC

Left to Right:
 
Lt Gen Sir J. Hills-Johnes VC
Date of Act of Bravery, 9 July 1857
For very gallant conduct on the part of Lieutenant Hills before Delhi, in defending the position assigned to him in case of alarm, and for noble behaviour on the part of Lieutenant-Colonel Tombs in twice coming to his subaltern’s rescue, and on each occasion killing his man.


Lord Roberts VC
For actions on 2 January 1858 at Khudaganj

 

On following the retreating enemy on 2 January 1858, at Khodagunge, he saw in the distance two Sepoys going away with a standard. Lieutenant Roberts put spurs to his horse, and overtook them just as they were about to enter a village. They immediately turned round, and presented their muskets at him, and one of the men pulled the trigger, but fortunately the caps snapped, and the standard-bearer was cut down by this gallant young officer, and the standard taken possession of by him. He also, on the same day, cut down another Sepoy who was standing at bay, with musket and bayonet, keeping off a Sowar. Lieutenant Roberts rode to the assistance of the horseman, and, rushing at the Sepoy, with one blow of his sword cut him across the face, killing him on the spot.


General Sir Hugh Gough VC  

Date of Acts of Bravery, 12th November, 1857, and 25th February, 1858

Lieutenant Gough, when in command of a party of Hodson’s Horse, near Alumbagh, on the 12th of November, 1857, particularly distinguished himself by his forward bearing in charging across a swamp, and capturing two guns, although defended by a vastly superior body of the enemy. On this occasion he had his horse wounded in two places, and his turban cut through by sword cuts, whilst engaged in combat with three Sepoys.

Lieutenant Gough also particularly distinguished himself, near Jellalabad, Lucknow, on 25 February 1858, by showing a brilliant example to his Regiment, when ordered to charge the enemy’s guns, and by his gallant and forward conduct, he enabled them to effect their object. On this occasion he engaged himself in a series of single combats, until at length he was disabled by a musketball through the leg, while charging two Sepoys with fixed bayonets. Lieutenant Gough on this day had two horses killed under him, a shot through his helmet, and another through his scabbard, besides being severely wounded.


General Sir Charles Gough. VC

Date of Acts of Bravery, 15th and 18th August, 1857, and 27th January, and 23rd February, 1858

First, for gallantry in an affair at Khurkowdah, near Rhotuck, on the 15 August 1857, while serving with Hodson’s Horse, in which he saved his brother, who was wounded, and killed two of the Enemy.

Secondly, for gallantry on 18 August, when he led a Troop of the Guide Cavalry in a charge, and cut down two of the Enemy’s Sowars, with one of whom he had a desperate hand to hand combat.

Thirdly, for gallantly on 27 January 1858, at Shumshabad, where, in a charge, he attacked one of the Enemy’s leaders and pierced him with his sword, which was carried out of his hand in the melee. He defended, himself with his revolver, and shot two of the Enemy.

Fourthly, for gallantry on 23 February, at Meangunge, where he came to the assistance of Brevet-Major O. H. St. George Anson, and killed his opponent, immediately afterwards cutting down another of the Enemy in the same gallant manner.


Colonel T Cadell VC

For having, on the 12th of June, 1857, at the Flag-staff Picquet at Delhi, when the whole of the Picquet of Her Majesty’s 75th Regiment and 2nd European Bengal Fusiliers were driven in by a large body of the enemy, brought in from amongst the enemy a wounded Bugler of his own regiment, under a most severe fire, who would otherwise have been cut up by the rebels. Also, on the same day, when the Fusiliers were retiring, by order, on Metcalfe’s house, on its being reported that there was a wounded man left behind, Lieutenant Cadell went back of his own accord towards the enemy, accompanied by three men, and brought in a man of the 75th Regiment, who was severely wounded, under a most heavy fire from the advancing enemy.


General Sir James Watson VC

Lieutenant Watson, on the 14th November, with his own squadron, and that under Captain, then Lieutenant, Probyn, came upon a body of the rebel cavalry. The Ressaldar in command of them  a fine specimen of the Hindustani Mussulman  and backed up by some half dozen equally brave men, rode out to the front. Lieutenant Watson singled out this fine-looking fellow and attacked him. The Ressaldar presented his pistol at Lieutenant Watsons breast, at a yards distance, and fired; but, most providentially, without effect; the ball must, by accident, have previously fallen out. Lieutenant Watson ran the man through with his sword, and dismounted him; but the native officer, nothing daunted, drew his tulwar, and with his Sowars renewed his attack upon Lieutenant Watson, who bravely defended himself until his own men joined in the melee, and utterly routed the party.
In this rencontre, Lieutenant Watson received a blow on the head from a tulwar, another on the left arm, which severed his chain gauntlet glove, a tulwar cut on his right arm, which fortunately only divided the sleeve of the jacket, but disabled the arm for some time; a bullet also passed through his coat, and he received a blow on his leg, which lamed him for some days afterwards.


 

The Graphic 8th June 1907.

London Gazette.

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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.

norwood

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.

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

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.

 

Corporal Harry Beet VC

Corporal Harry Beet (1 April 1873 – 10 January 1946) of the 1st Derbyshire Regiment was awarded his Victoria Cross on 22 April 1900 at Wakkerstroom, South Africa.

 

His Citation reads:

At Wakkerstroom, on the 22nd April, 1900, No. 2 Mounted Infantry Company, 1st Battalion Derbyshire Regiment, with two squadrons, Imperial Yeomanry, had to retire from near a farm, under a ridge held by Boers.

Corporal Burnett, Imperial Yeomanry, was left on the ground wounded, and Corporal Beet, on seeing him, remained behind and placed him under cover, bound up his wounds, and by firing prevented the Boers from coming down to the farm till dark, when Doctor Wilson, Imperial Yeomanry, came to the wounded man’s assistance. The retirement was carried out under a very heavy fire, and Corporal Beet was exposed to fire during the whole afternoon.

Beet

Corporal Harry Beet

He later achieved the rank of Captain. He later emigrated to Saskatchewan, Canada, where he fought with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in World War I. In 1936 he settled in Vancouver where he remained until his death in 1946.

Corporal Frank Howard Kirby VC

For Valour

Corporal Frank Howard Kirby (1871-1956) of the Royal Engineers was awarded his Victoria Cross for an action that took place on the 2nd of June 1900.

His citation reads:

On the morning of the 2nd June, 1900, 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.

Howard

Corporal (Later Group Captain) Frank Howard Kirby VC

He was presented with the medal by the Duke of York (later George V) in Cape town in August 1901. Hew was later awarded Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for his service in South Africa. The medal was presented to him in March 1902 after his return to the United Kingdom, in the presence of 1 000 Royal Engineers on parade.

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.

 

Sgt-Major W Robertson VC Gordon Highlanders

For Valour

Sergeant-Major William Robertson, Gordon Highlanders was awarded his Victoria Cross at Elands Laagte on the 21st October 1899, during the final advance on the enemy’s position when he lead each successive rush exposing himself fearlessly to the enemy’s artillery and rifle fire to encourage the men.

Robertson

William Robertson VC

After the main position had been captured he lead a small party to seize the Boer camp, and although exposed to a deadly cross fire from the enemy’s rifle fire he gallantly held on to the captured position, and continued to encourage the men until he was dangerously wounded in two places.

Robertson was later commissioned into the Gordon Highlanders as a quartermaster with the rank of lieutenant. He was promoted captain in 1910, major in 1915, and lieutenant-colonel in 1917. He retired in 1920. After his retirement he became honorary treasurer of the Royal British Legion Scotland.

 

He died in 1949