Month: January 2020

OTD: The Victoria Cross is established

On the 29th of January 1856 Queen Victoria issued the royal warrant that established the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system.  Prior to the 1850s, there was no official standardised system for recognition of gallantry in the British armed forces and the courage of ordinary British servicemen highlighted the issue that their bravery went unrewarded. 

It is the premier award for gallantry, and is available to all ranks, to cover actions since the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1854. It is described as a cross patteé, the obverse is a lion guardant on the royal crown, with the words “FOR VALOUR” on a semi circular scroll. The reverse is a circular panel on which is engraved the date of the act for which the decoration was awarded. The cross is suspended on a ring from a seriffed “V” attached to a suspension bar decorated with laurel leaves hanging from a crimson ribbon. The reverse of the suspension bar is engraved with the name, rank and ship, regiment or squadron of the recipient.  The medal was originally made from the bronze of Russian guns captured in the Crimean War, but guns captured in other conflicts have been used at various periods.

A number of South Africans have been awarded the VC, and many were issued during the Boer War to Imperial soldiers and officers. I have an extensive section on allatsea dedicated to the Victoria Cross and the graves that I have personally seen and photographed.

The list below covers South Africans, South African born, buried in South Africa or with links to South Africa.  I also have a page for VC graves in South Africa.  

  • 21. Lance Sergeant JOSEPH MALONE VC., 25th October 1854, buried St. Andrew’s Churchyard, Pinetown, Natal, South Africa. VC location, 13th/18th Hussar’s Museum, Barnsley, Yorkshire, England.
  • 36. Lieutenant FREDERICK MILLER VC., 5th November 1854, buried Ossuary Garden of Remembrance, Observatory, Cape Town, South Africa. VC location, not publicly held.
  • 97. Colour Sergeant JAMES CRAIG VC., 6th September 1855, buried St. Mary’s Cemetery, Valley Road, South End, Port Elizabeth, Cape Province, South Africa. VC location, Scot’s Guards RHQ, Wellington Barracks, London, England.
  • 153. Lt-Col JOSEPH CROWE VC., 12th August 1857, Grave relocated on 5 February 1977 to the Moth Garden of Remembrance in Uitenhage, South Africa. VC location, destroyed in a fire at his sister’s farm, it is not known if an official replacement was issued.
  • 302. Private THOMAS LANE VC., 21st August 1860, buried Gladstone Cemetery; RC Section, Row 4, Grave 23. Kimberley, South Africa. VC location, Royal Hampshire Regiment Museum, Winchester, Hampshire, England.
  • 332. Private WILLIAM GRIFFITHS VC., 7th May 1867, buried in unmarked mass grave, Isandlwana, Natal, South Africa. VC location, South Wales Borderers Museum, Brecon, Wales.
  • 345. Lt TEIGNMOUTH MELVILL VC., 22nd January 1879, buried with Lieutenant Nevill Coghill, Fugitive’s Drift, below Itchiane Hill, South Africa. VC location, South Wales Borderers Museum, Brecon, Wales.
  • 346. Lieutenant NEVILL COGHILL VC., 22nd January 1879, buried with Adjutant Teignmouth Melvill, Fugitive’s Drift, below Itchiane Hill, South Africa. VC location, South Wales Borderers Museum, Brecon, Wales.
  • 351. Assistant Commissary JAMES DALTON VC., 22nd/23rd January 1879, buried Russell Road RC Cemetery; Plot E. Port Elizabeth, South Africa. VC location, RLC Museum, Deepcut, Camberley, Surrey, England.
  • 368. Sergeant ROBERT SCOTT VC., 8th April 1879, buried Plumstead Cemetery; Allotment EA, Grave 88. Wynberg, South Africa. VC location, Manchester Regiment Museum, The Town Hall, Ashton-under-Lyne, England.
  • 369. Trooper PETER BROWN VC. . 8th April 1879. Buried Woltemade Cemetery, Cape Town. Grave 81594A but grave has been reused, now bears the name Abrahamse). VC Location: Amatole Museum, King William’s Town
  • 371. Surgeon Major EDMUND HARTLEY VC, 5th June 1879, buried Brookwood Cemetery; St. Judes Avenue, Plot 2, Grave 193293. Cemetery Pales, Woking, Surrey, England. VC location, Army Medical Services Museum, Mytchett, Surrey, England.
  • 373. Captain HENRY D’ARCY VC., 3rd July 1879, buried King William’s Town Cemetery; Section D, Grave 32-33, family plot. Cape Province, South Africa. VC location, not publicly held.
  • 374. Sergeant EDMUND O’TOOLE VC., 3rd July 1879, no known grave, died in Harare, Salisbury, Zimbabwe. VC location, not publicly held.
  • 381. Lieutenant WILLIAM DICK-CUNYNGHAM VC. , 13th December 1879, buried Ladysmith Cemetery, Natal, South Africa. VC location, Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen, Scotland.
  • 389. Surgeon JOHN McCREA VC., 14th January 1881, buried Kokstad Cemetery, Transkei District, Cape Province, South Africa. VC location, The Ashcroft Collection.
  • 391. Trooper JOHN DANAHER VC. (or DANAGHER), 16th January 1881, buried Milton Cemetery; Plot M, Row 1, Grave 6. Milton Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England. VC location, National Army Museum, London, England.
  • 413. Trooper HERBERT HENDERSON VC.. 30 March 1896. Buried Bulawayo Town Cemetery, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. VC Location: National Army Museum London, England.
  • 414. Trooper FRANK WILLIAM BAXTER VC. 22 April 1896 Buried Bulawayo Town Cemetery, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. VC Location Imperial War Museum, London, England
  • 415 Captain RANDOLPH NESBITT VC.. 19 June 1896. Cremated, ashes interred at Anglican cathedral, Harare, Zimbabwe. VC Location: National Archives of Zimbabwe.
  • 429. Lieutenant RAYMOND de MONTMORENCY VC., 2nd September 1898, buried Molteno Cemetery, near Dordrecht, South Africa. VC location, not publicly held.
  • 436. Captain CHARLES MULLINS VC., 21st October 1899, buried Grahamstown Old Cemetery, South Africa. VC location, Imperial War Museum, London, England.
  • 440. Cpl. JOHN DAVID FRANCIS SHAUL VC.. Born 11/09/1873 Kings Lynn, Norfolk. Died 14/09/1953 in Boksburg, South Africa. VC gazetted 28/09/1900.
  • 446. Lieutenant FREDERICK ROBERTS VC., 15th December 1899, buried Chievely War Cemetery; Plot 136. South Africa. VC location, National Army Museum, London, England.
  • 449. Sergeant HORACE MARTINEAU VC., 26th December 1899, buried Andersons Bay Soldiers’ Cemetery; Returned Serviceman’s Area, Block 73, Plot 16. Dunedin, New Zealand. VC location, The Ashcroft Collection.
  • 450. Trooper HORACE RAMSDEN VC., 26th December 1899, cremated at The Maitland Crematorium, Woltemade, Cape Town, South Africa. VC location, The Ashcroft Collection.
  • 452. ROBERT JAMES THOMAS DIGBY-JONES VC.Born 27/09/1876 Edinburgh. Died 06/01/1900. Buried Ladysmith Cemetery, Ladysmith. KZN. VC Location: Goredon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen, Scotland.
  • 454. Trooper HERMAN ALBRECHT VC., 6th January 1900, buried in mass grave, Waggon Hill Cemetery, South Africa. VC location, Museum of Military History, Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • 457. Lieutenant FRANCIS PARSONS VC., 18th February 1900, buried Driefontein Cemetery; an isolated grave on the battlefield. Orange Free State, South Africa. VC location, Essex Regiment Museum, Chelmsford, Essex, England.
  • 458. Sgt ALFRED ATKINSON VC.. Born 06/02/1874 Leeds. Died 18/02/1900. Originally Buried in an unmarked grave at Gruisbank British Cemetery, Petrusberg District, Paardeberg, Free State.
  • 468. Driver HORACE GLASOCK VC., 31st March 1900, buried Maitland Road No. 4 Cemetery, Cape Town, South Africa. VC location, The Ashcroft Collection.
  • 478. Captain DAVID YOUNGER VC., 11th July 1900, buried Krugersdorp Cemetery, Halgryn Street, Krugersdorp, South Africa. VC location, not publicly held.
  • 497. Private JOHN BARRY VC., 7th/8th January 1901, buried Belfast Cemetery, East of Johannesburg, South Africa. VC location, The Ashcroft Collection.
  • 500. Corporal JOHN CLEMENTS VC., 24th February 1901, buried Town Cemetery; Dutch Reform Section. Newcastle. South Africa. VC location, The Ashcroft Collection.
  • 507. Lt. ALEXANDER YOUNG VC. 13 August 1901, No known grave, commemorated on Thiepval Memorial Pier 4, face C. VC Location, The Ashcroft Collection.
  • 503. Lt GUSTAVUS COULSON VC. 18 May 1901, Buried Lambrechtfontein Farm Cemetery near Bothaville. VC Location: King’s Own Scottish Borderers Museum, Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Northumberland.
  • 558. Bandsman THOMAS RENDLE VC. 20th November 1914, buried Maitland Road No. 1 Cemetery; Family Plot No. 24598. Cape Town, South Africa. VC location, Duke of Cornwell’s Light Infantry Museum, Bodmin, Cornwell, England.
  • 642. Captain PERCY HANSEN VC, DSO, MC, Born 26 October 1890 in Durban, South Africa, died on the 12th February 1951. There is reference to his funeral been held in London, his ashes were interred in the family vault, Garnisons Kirkegard, Copenhagen. Section R. Row K. Grave 3. VC Location, The Ashcroft Collection.
  • 731. Private WILLIAM FAULDS VC. 18th July 1916, buried Pioneer Cemetery, Remembrance Drive, Harare, Zimbabwe. VC location, unknown, medal stolen from National Museum of Military History, Johannesburg, South Africa in 1994.
  • 746. Captain WILLIAM BLOOMFIELD VC. (born BROOMFIELD), 24th August 1916, buried Ermelo Cemetery, Ousthuizen Street, Transvaal, South Africa. VC location, with recipient’s family.
  • 775. Sergeant FREDERICK CHARLES BOOTH VC.  : 12 February 1917.  Buried Bear Road Cemetery, Brighton, Sussex. VC Location: Rhodesia Native Regiment, Harare, Zimbabwe.
  • 783. Captain OSWALD REID VC., 8th to 10th March 1917, buried Braamfontein Cemetery; Section EC, Plot 22932. Johannesburg, South Africa. VC location, Museum of Military History, Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • 883. L/Cpl WILLIAM HENRY HEWITT VC., 20 Sept 1917, Cremated in Cheltenham, ashes scattered off Hermanus, Cape Townl. VC location, Framlingham College, Suffolk.
  • 891. Captain CLEMENT ROBERTSON VC., 4th October 1917, buried Oxford Road Cemetery; Plot III, Row F, Grave 7. Near Ypres, Belgium. VC location, not publicly held.
  • 919. Acting Lieutenant Colonel JOHN ‘BOMB’ SHERWOOD KELLY VC., 20th November 1917, buried Brookwood Cemetery; Block 86, Grave 196296. Cemetery Pales, Woking, Surrey, England. VC location, National Museum of Military History, Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • 937. Acting Captain ARTHUR MOORE LASCELLES VC 03 December 1917. Emigrated to South Africa in 1902 and joined the Cape Mounted Rifles as a Trooper. Buried Dourlers Communal Cemetery, France. VC Location Durham Light Infantry Museum, Durham.
  • 955. Acting Captain REGINALD HAYWARD VC., 21st/22nd March 1918, ashes scattered at Putney Vale Crematorium; Garden of Remembrance. Stag Lane, London, England. VC location, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire & Wiltshire Regiment Museum, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England.
  • 1029. Acting Captain ANDREW BEAUCHAMP-PROCTOR VC. (born PROCTOR), 8th August to 8th October 1918, buried Mafeking Cemetery; European Section, Grave 1050-2. South Africa. VC location, not publicly held.
  • 1040. Captain FERDINAND MAURICE FELIX WEST VC. 10 August 1918. Buried Holy Trinity Churchyard, Sunningdale, Berkshire. VC Location: The Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum
  • 1108. Temporary Lieutenant ROBERT GORLE VC., 1st October 1918, buried Stellawood Cemetery; Section K, Grave 144. Durban, Natal, South Africa. VC location, The Ashcroft Collection.
  • 1133. Lieutenant Colonel HARRY GREENWOOD VC DSO* OBE MC. 23/24 October 1918. Buried Putney Vale Cemetery, London. VC Location: King’s Own Yorkshire Museum, Doncaster.
  • 1170. CSM GEORGE GRISTOCK VC.. Born 14/01/1905 in Pretoria. VC Gazetted 23/08/1940. Buried in the War Graves Section (Plot Z.G.L. Grave 28), Bear Road Cemetery, Brighton, Sussex, England.
  • 1203. CHARLES GROVES WRIGHT ANDERSON VC. MC. Born 12/02/1897 Cape Town, VC gazetted on 13/02/1942.  Died Red Hill, Canberra, Australia 11/11/1988
  • 1214. Squadron Leader JOHN DERING NETTLETON VC Born 28/06/1917 in Nongoma, Natal. VC was gazetted on 24/04/1942. His aircraft was shot down on 13/07/1943 and his body was not recovered.
  • 1217. Sergeant QUENTIN SMYTHE, 5th June 1942, ashes buried on his farm, Nottingham Road, Natal, South Africa. VC location, original unknown, the official replacement is in The Ashcroft Collection.
  • 1293. Lieutenant GERARD NORTON, 31st August 1944, burial location unknown, died in Harare, Salisbury, Zimbabwe. VC location, not publicly held.
  • 1316. Acting Major EDWIN SWALES VC., 23rd February 1945, buried Leopoldsburg War Cemetery; Plot VIII, Row C, Grave 5. Limburg, Holland. VC location, National Museum of Military History, Johannesburg, South Africa.

DRW © 2020. Created 29/01/2020


OTD: Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster

On this day in 1986 we all watched how the Space Shuttle Challenger was ripped apart by an explosion 73 seconds into it’s flight. The event was seen live on TV in many countries and for that brief point in time a large portion of the world was left speechless.

The Destruction of the Space Shuttle Challenger, January 28th, 1986

Challenger was really a wake-up call to NASA about complacency and the result that the Space Shuttle fleet was grounded for almost three years while the investigation, hearings, engineering redesign of the solid rocket boosters, and other behind-the-scenes technical and management reviews, changes, and preparations were taking place.

The human cost was great too. Seven crew members lost their lives in the disaster.

The crew of STS-51-L: Front row from left, Mike Smith, Dick Scobee, Ron McNair. Back row from left, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis, Judith Resnik.

The cause of the disaster  is attributed to the failure of O-ring seals used in the solid rocket boosters (SRB) joint that were not designed to handle the unusually cold conditions that existed at this launch. The seals’ failure caused a breach in the SRB joint, allowing pressurized burning gas from within the solid rocket motor to reach the outside and impinge upon the adjacent SRB aft field joint attachment hardware and external fuel tank. This led to the separation of the right-hand SRB’s aft field joint attachment and the structural failure of the external tank. Aerodynamic forces broke up the orbiter.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_Challenger_disaster)

 

DRW © 2020. Created 22/05/2020.

Image of Challenger Explosion attributed to Kennedy Space Center / Public domain. This image or video was catalogued by one of the centers of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) under Photo ID: GPN-2004-00012 and Alternate ID: 86-HC-220.

Crew photograph retrieved from https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_256.html

Tribute photograph retrieved from https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/flyout/multimedia/challenger/2010-07-29.html


Holocaust Remembrance Day

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is an international memorial day on the 27th of January commemorating the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during the Second World War. It commemorates the genocide that resulted in the deaths of 6 million Jews and 11 million others, by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Holocaust_Remembrance_Day)

I have done a lot of reading about the Holocaust over the years and it never ceases to amaze how the Nazi regime was able to create this monstrous concentration camp system and how they ran it using so many compliant people. It took hordes of rubber stamp wielders and bureaucrats to put it in motion and to achieve the maximum output. It also took hordes of men and women to enforce the rules, murder the inmates and decide who lived and who died. Yet, when the war ended so many of them just walked away unpunished; some even finding employment in the East German Stasi and some seemingly vanished. Unfortunately way too many woke up the day after the war ended and hid their evil pasts and carried on as if nothing really happened and they were not complicit in the murder of millions. Many would find excuses for their actions, hiding behind excuses like “I was only obeying orders” or “I did not know they were murdering people” or “They would have shot me if I refused”. Quite a few would have admitted that they enjoyed what they were doing, some would hide behind Nazi racial rhetoric and many would have complained that they had not been able to finish the job. Sadly this is also true of the monsters that murdered millions in the former Soviet Union and any number of massacres perpetuated by society and its rulers.  

I was only able to visit one Holocaust Memorial in South Africa, and it was situated in West Park Cemetery. Not too many people are aware of it and it is somewhat of an imposing memorial.  

It was sculpted by Herman Wald and may be found in the Jewish section of the cemetery. The memorial was rededicated on 50th anniversary of the liberation of  the concentration camps (27 April 1995).  

There are many websites that you can visit to learn more and I won’t even try to list them. The one Holocaust exhibition that really moved me was that of the Imperial War Museum in London. Unfortunately you may not take photographs in it, but it is worth the visit. 

And, if your own personal beliefs are that the holocaust never happened, or it was justified then I suggest you really go pay a visit to Auschwitz and look around you and try to remember that even one innocent victim is one victim too many. 

DRW © 2020. Created 27/01/2020