Sir Walter Norris Congreve VC.

Walter Norris Congreve (20/11/1862 – 28/02/1927) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions while serving as a Captain in the Rifle Brigade during the Anglo Boer War at the Battle of Colenso. Along with Lieutenant Frederick Roberts, Cpl George Nurse and  Harry Norton Schofield they were awarded the Victoria Cross for their attempt at “saving the guns” on 15/12/1899.

The Citation that was recorded in the London Gazette of Issue:27160, Page: 689, is about the actions of Captain William Congreve and Lieutenant Frederick Roberts. George Nurse is seemingly mention as an afterthought. The Citation reads:

“The 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.

The King’s Royal Rifle Corps, Lieutenant the Honourable F. H. S. Roberts (since deceased).

66th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, Corporal G. E. Nurse

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 tbrough the leg, through the toe of his boot, grazed on the elbow and the shoulder, and his horse shot in three places.

Lieutenant Roberts assisted Captain Congreve. He was wounded in three places.

Corporal Nurse also assisted.”

Captain Congreve served held a series of command posts in Britain and Ireland and was served with distinction during World War I, deployed with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France, and taking part in the Battle of the Aisne. He went on to command the 6th Division from May 1915 and then XIII Corps from November 1915. 

From 1924 to 1927, he served as the governor of Malta, where he died. He was buried at sea in the channel between the coast and Filfla Island.

Congreve’s son was Major William La Touche Congreve, VC – they are one of only three father and son pairs to win a VC (Frederick Roberts VC and Lord Roberts VC were also father and son) 

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 14/06/2017. Taddy cigarette card by Card Promotions, © 1997, first issued 1902. Biographical Information sourced from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Norris_Congreve.

 

Reverend Bernard William Vann VC, MC,

Reverend Bernard William Vann VC, MC. (09/07/1887 – 03/10/1918), was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 29 September 1918 at Bellenglise and Lehaucourt, France.

The Citation, recorded at the London Gazette of 13 December 1918. Supplement: 31067, Page: 14774, reads:

“Capt. (A./Lt.-Col ) Bernard William Vann, M.C., late I/8th Bn., attd. I/6th Bn., Notts. & Derby. R. (T.F.).

For most conspicuous bravery, devotion to duty and fine leadership during the attack at Bellenglise and Lehaucourt on September 29th, 1918.

He led his battalion with great skill across the Canal Du Nord through a very thick fog and under heavy fire from field and machine guns.

On reaching the high ground above Bellenglise the whole attack was held up by fire of all descriptions from the front and right flank.

Realising that everything depended on the advance going forward with the barrage, Col. Vann rushed up to the firing line and with the greatest gallantry led the line forward. By his prompt action and absolute contempt for danger the whole situation was changed, the men were encouraged and the line swept forward.

Later, he rushed a field-gun single-handed and knocked out three of the detachment. The success of the day was in no small degree due to the splendid gallantry and fine leadership displayed by this officer.

Lt.-Col. Vann, who had on all occasions set the highest example: of valour, was killed near Ramicourt on 3rd October, 1918, when leading his battalion in attack.”

He was the only ordained clergyman of the Church of England to win the VC in the Great War as a combatant, and was awarded the Military Cross (MC)

“At Kemmel on 24 April 1915 when a small advance trench which he occupied was blown in, and he himself wounded and half buried, he showed the greatest determination in organising the defence and rescuing buried men under heavy fire, although wounded and severely bruised he refused to leave his post until directly ordered to do so. At Ypres on 31 July 1915, and subsequent days, he ably assisted another officer to hold the left trench of the line, setting a fine example to those around him. On various occasions he has led patrols up to the enemy’s trenches and obtained valuable information.”

He was killed in action, shot by a sniper at Ramicourt, France, on 3 October 1918 and is buried in Bellicourt British Cemetery, France.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 26/04/2017. Image courtesy of Mark Green.

Harry Blanshard Wood VC, MM

Harry Blanshard Wood (21/06/1882-15/08/1924) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the First World War.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 31067, Page: 14777, reads:

“No. 16444 Cpl. (L./Sjt.) Harry Blanshard Wood. MM., 2nd Bri., S. Gds. (Bristol).

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during operations at the village of St. Python, France, on the 13th of October, 1918.

The advance was desperately opposed by machine guns, and the streets were raked by fire. His platoon serjeant was killed, and command of the leading platoon fell to him. The task of the company was to clear the western side of the village and secure the crossing of the River Selle. Command of the ruined bridge had to be gained, though the space in front of it. was commanded by snipers. Cpl. Wood boldly carried a large brick out into the open space, lay down behind it, and fired continually at these snipers, ordering his men to work across while he covered them by his fire. This he continued to do under heavy and well-aimed fire until the whole of his party had reached the objective point.

He showed complete disregard for his personal safety, and his leadership throughout the day was of the highest order. Later, he drove off repeated enemy counter-attacks against his position.

His gallant conduct and initiative shown contributed largely to the success of the day’s operations.”

He is buried in Soldiers’ Corner, grave number 1738, Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol.

Soldiers Corner, Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol..

DRW © 2016-2020. Created 22/09/2016, Edited 02/05/2017.