Regimental VC`s ( Second Boer War )
The Victoria Cross (VC) was awarded to 78 members of the British Armed Forces for action during the Second Boer War. The Victoria Cross is a military decoration awarded for valour “in the face of the enemy” to members of the armed forces of some Commonwealth countries and previous British Empire territories. The VC was introduced in Great Britain on 29th January 1856 by Queen Victoria to reward acts of valour during the Crimean War, and takes precedence over all other orders, decorations and medals. It may be awarded to a person of any rank in any service and to civilians under military command. The first ceremony was held on 26th June 1857, when Queen Victoria invested 62 of the 111 Crimean recipients in Hyde Park
The Second Boer War was fought from 11th October 1899 to 31st May 1902, between the British Empire and the two independent Boer republics of the Orange Free State and the South African Republic (Transvaal Republic). After a set of failed negotiations over foreigner land rights in the territories, led by Joseph Chamberlain, both sides issued ultimatums. When the ultimatums were rejected, war was declared. The war had three distinct phases. First, the Boers mounted pre-emptive strikes into British-held territory in Natal and the Cape Colony, besieging the British garrisons of Ladysmith, Mafeking and Kimberly. The Boers then won a series of tactical victories against a failed British counteroffensive to relieve the three sieges. The second phase began after British forces under Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts launched counteroffensives with increased troop numbers. After Natal and the Cape Colony were secure, the British were able to invade the Transvaal and the republic’s capital, Pretoria, was captured in June 1900. The third phase began in March 1900, when the Boers engaged a protracted hard-fought guerrilla warfare against the British forces. In an effort to cut off supplies to the raiders, the British, now under the leadership of Lord Kitchener, responded with a scorched earth policy of destroying Boer farms and moving civilians into Concentration Camps.
The British Government had expected the campaign to be over within months, and the protracted war became increasingly unpopular especially after revelations about the conditions in the concentration camps. Emily Hobhouse, a campaigner, had forced the British Government to set up the Fawcett C0mmission, led by suffragist Millicent Fawcett, into the conditions at the camps. Hobhouse published reports from the camps which told of thousands of deaths from disease and malnutrition. These reports helped to sway public opinion against the war. The demand for peace led to a settlement of hostilities, and in 1902, the Treaty of Vereeniging was signed. The two republics were absorbed into the British Empire, although the British were forced to make a number of concessions and reparations to the Boers. The granting of limited autonomy for the area ultimately led to the establishment of the Union of South Africa.
The original Royal Warrant , was silent on whether the VC could be awarded posthumously. From 1857 until 1897, 18 recipients were gazetted after their deaths but only 12 of the next of kin received the actual medal. In the other six cases there was a memorandum stating that they would have been recommended for the VC had they survived. By 1899, the precedent had been established that the VC could be awarded posthumously if the recommendation for the award was submitted prior to the recipient’s death from wounds. Two such awards were granted during the Second Boer War, the well known award to Frederick Roberts, the son of Lord Roberts VC and to Francis Parsons. In 1900 and 1901, three memoranda were issued for Herman Albrecht, Robert Digby-Jones and David Younger stating they would have been recommended for the VC had they survived. In a partial reversal of policy restricted to the Second Boer War, it was announced in the London Gazette on 8th August 1902, that the next of kin of the three soldiers mentioned in memoranda would be sent medals. In the same gazette, the first three posthumous awards were gazetted to Alfred Atkinson, John Barry and Gustavus Coulson. In 1907, the posthumous policy was reversed and medals were sent to the next of kin of the remaining six officers and men. Although the Victoria Cross warrant was not amended to specifically include posthumous awards until 1920, one quarter of all awards for the First World War were posthumous.
Regimental VC`s (Second Boer War)
General Sir Walter Norris Congreve VC, KCB, MVO, DL (20th November 1862 – 28 February 1927) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He was 37 years old, and a captain in The Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort`s Own) of the British Army during the Second Boer War when he won the VC.
Walter Norris Congreve was the son of William and Fanny E. Congreve of Castle Church, Stafford. He was educated at Twyford School, Harrow School and Pembroke Collage, Oxford. He married Cecilia Henrietta Dolores Blount La Touche at St Jude`s Church, Kensington, on 18th May 1890.
On 15th December 1899 at the Battle of Colenso, South Africa, Captain Congreve with several others, tried to save the guns of the 14th and 66th Batteries, Royal Field Artillery, when the detachments serving the guns had all become casualties or been driven from their guns. Some of the horses and drivers were sheltering in a donga (gully) about 500 yards behind the guns and the intervening space was swept with shell and rifle fire. Captain Congreve, with two other officers (The Hon. Frederick Hugh Sherston Roberts and Harry Norton Schofield), and Corporal George Edward Nurse retrieved two of the guns. All four received the VC for this action. (F.S.H. Roberts was the son in one of the two other father and son pairs of VC winners.) Then, although wounded himself, seeing one of the officers fall, Congreve went out with Major William Babtie, RAMC, who also received the VC for this action, and brought in the wounded man. His citation read:
“ At Colenso on the 15th December, 1899, the detachments serving the guns of the 14th and 66th Batteries, Royal Field Artillery, had all been either killed, wounded, or driven from their guns by Infantry fire at close range, and the guns were deserted. About 500 yards behind the guns was a donga in which some of the few horses and drivers left alive were sheltered. The intervening space was swept with shell and rifle fire. Captain Congreve, Rifle Brigade, who was in the donga, assisted to hook a team into a limber, went out; and assisted to limber up a gun. Being wounded, he took shelter; but, seeing Lieutenant Roberts fall, badly wounded, he went out again and brought him in. Captain Congreve was shot trough the leg, through the toe of his boot, grazed on the elbow and the shoulder, and his horse shot in three places.
Congreve commanded 6th Division from May 1915 and then XIII from November 1915. As commander of XIII Corps, Lt-Gen Congreve led the battles for Longueval and Delville Wood between 14th July and 3rd September 1916. The rapid advance of his Corps in the southern sector of the Somme offensive had brought about a situation where the allied front was set at a right angle – the left sector facing north and the right, facing east from Delville Wood. This meant that an advance on a wide front would result in the attacking forces diverging from one–another as they advanced. In order to “straighten the line,” General Sir Douglas Haig had decided to exploit the advances which had been made by Congreve in the south by taking and holding the town of Longueval and Delville Wood. Being on fairly high ground and providing good spotting opportunities for artillery fire, an occupied Longueval would protect the right flank and allow the Allies to advance in the north and align their left with that of Congreve’s XIII Corps on the right. XIII Corps succeeded in securing Delville Wood, but it was one of the bloodiest confrontations of the Somme, with both sides incurring large casualties. During WWI, Congreve lost a hand in action.
In later life Congreve continued his war service becoming General Officer Commanding VII Corps in 1918. Later Congreve rose to the rank of general and was knighted. He was General Officer Commanding the Egyptian Expeditionary Force between 1919 and 1922 and then Commander-in-Chief, Southern Command between 1923 and 1924.
From 1924 to 1927, he served as the governor of Malta, where he died. At his request, he was buried at sea in the channel between the coast and Filfla Island; there is a small monument to him on the coast between Hamriia Tower and the prehistoric site of Mnajdra; the channel between Malta and Filfla is unofficially known as Congreve Channel (the official name is ‘Il-Fliegu ta’ Filfla’). The presence of Congreve’s monument in a place of prehistoric worship is considered a colonial sacrilege by many Maltese people, and there have been repeated calls for its removal.
There is also a stone bearing his name above the gate to the “Scouts” HQ in Floriana, Valletta.
Congreve was the father of Major William La Touche Congreve, VC – they are one of only three father and son pairs to win a VC. His younger son Geoffrey Cecil Congreve was created a baronet, of Congreve in the County of Stafford, in July 1927 (see Congreve baronets).
Congreve’s Victoria Cross is on display at the RGJ / Rifles Museum at the former Peninsula Barracks.
Alfred Edward Durrant VC, ISM (4th November 1864 – 29 March 1933) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
He was 35 years old, and a Private in the 2nd Battalion, The Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort`s Own) of the British Army during the Second Boer War when the following deed took place on 27th of August 1900 at the Battle of Bergendal, South Africa, for which he was awarded the VC:
“ At Bergendal, on the 27th August, 1900, Acting-Corporal Wellar having been wounded, and being somewhat dazed, got up from his prone position in the firing line, exposing himself still more to the enemy’s fire, and commenced to run towards them. Private Durrant rose, and pulling him down endeavoured to keep him quiet, but finding this impossible he took him up and carried him back for 200 yards under a heavy fire to shelter, returning immediately to his place in the line.
He later achieved the rank of lance-corporal. His Victoria Cross is displayed at the RGJ / Rifles Museum at the former Peninsula Barracks.
Major General Llewelyn Alberic Emilius Price-Davies VC ,CB, CMG, DSO (30th June 1878 – 26th December 1965) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Price-Davies was 23 years old, and a Lieutenant in The King`s Royal Rifle Corps of the British Army during the Second Boer War when the following deed took place at Blood River Poort for which he was awarded the VC:
“ At Blood River Poort, on the 17th September, 1901, when the Boers had overwhelmed the right of the British Column, and some 400 of them were galloping round the flank and rear of the guns, riding up to the drivers (who were trying to get the guns away) and calling upon them to surrender, Lieutenant Price Davies, hearing an order to fire upon the charging Boers, at once drew his revolver and dashed in among them, firing at them in a most gallant and desperate attempt to rescue the guns. He was immediately shot and knocked off his horse, but was not mortally wounded, although he had ridden to what seemed to be almost certain death without a moment’s hesitation.
He later achieved the rank of Major General. His grave and memorial are at St Andrew`s church yard in Sonning, Berkshire.
His Victoria Cross is displayed at the RGJ / Rifles Museum at the former Peninsula Barracks.
Frederick Hugh Sherston Roberts VC (8th January 1872 – 17th December 1899), son of the famous Victorian commander Field Marshal Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, was born in Umballa, India, and received the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Roberts attended Eton Collage and joined the army soon after completing his studies. The son of Field Marshal Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts one of the greatest commanders of the Victorian era, it was only natural that he should follow his father into the British Army, and after the Royal Military Collage, Sandhurst, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the King`s Royal Rifle Corps on 10th June 1891.After joining the Army he was soon involved in action, fighting in the Wariristan Expeditionin 1894 and 1895, where he was Mentioned in Dispatches. He came to the attention of senior officers for his effective leadership. In 1898 he took part in the Nile Expedition following which he was promoted to lieutenant and awarded Order of Meijidieh of the Forth Class.
At the age of 27, Roberts went with the King’s Rifles to the Second Boer War, when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
On 15th December 1899 at the Battle of Colenso, South Africa, Roberts, with several others, tried to save the guns of the 14th and 66th Batteries, Royal Field Artillery, when the detachments serving the guns had all become casualties or been driven from their guns. Some of the horses and drivers were sheltering in a donga about 500 yards behind the guns and the intervening space was swept with shell and rifle fire. Roberts with two other officers ( Walter Norris Congreve and Harry Norton Schofield) and Corporal George Edward Nurse helped to hook a team into a limber and then to limber up a gun. While doing so, he fell badly wounded and two days later died of his wounds at Chieveley, Natal. The action was observed by the Commander-in-chief, Redvers Buller who recommended Roberts for the VC in a despatch written on 16 December, before Roberts had died from his wounds.
Confirmation of the award was made on 2 February 1900, the citation reading:
War Office, February 2, 1900.
Queen has been graciously pleased to signify Her intention to confer the decoration of the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned Officers and Non-Commissioned Officer, whose claims have been submitted for Her Majesty’s approval, for their conspicuous bravery at the battle of Colenso, as stated against their names:—
The Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort’s Own) Captain W. N. Congreve
At Colenso on the 15th December, 1899, the detachments serving the guns of the 14th and 66th Batteries, Royal Field Artillery, had all been either killed, wounded, or driven from their guns by Infantry fire at close range, and the guns were deserted.
About 500 yards behind the guns was a donga in which some of the few horses and drivers left alive were sheltered. The intervening space was swept with shell and rifle fire.
Captain Congreve, Rifle Brigade, who was in the donga, assisted to hook a team into a limber, went out; and assisted to limber up a gun. Being wounded, he took shelter; but, seeing Lieutenant Roberts fall, badly wounded, he went out again and brought him in. Captain Congreve was shot through the leg, through the toe of his boot, grazed on the elbow and the shoulder, and his horse shot in three places.
Lieutenant the Honourable F. H. S. Roberts (since deceased). Lieutenant Roberts assisted Captain Congreve. He was wounded in three places.
Roberts and his father were one of only three father-son pairs to win the VC, his father having won it in 1858 for an action at Khudaganj during the Indian rebellion.
F.H.S. Robert’s Victoria Cross is displayed at the National Army Museum in Chelsea.
Sourced from Wikipedia
original source from www.thegazette.co.uk