Saturday, November 1, 2014

Souvenir Saturday: Anglo-Zulu War - rare photo of 7 VCs at Brecon

In 1898 a gathering of VCs was photographed at the Brecon unveiling of the Anglo-Zulu War Memorial Plaque. A rare and historic moment captured for posterity.. Their names are as follows:

Back Row (L-R) Pte Robert Jones VC, Pte Alfred Hook VC, Pte William Jones VC.
Front Row (L-R) Pte David Bell VC, Col E S Brown VC, Pte Fred Hitch VC, Pte John Fielding VC.

1. Pte Robert Jones VC, won VC at Rorke's Drift. Born 19th August 1857 Tynewydd Nr Raglan; committed suicide (disputed, may have been shooting accident) 6th Sept 1898; buried in St Peter's Churchyard, Peterchurch. At time of burial coffin taken over churchwall rather than through gate, headstone facing opposite to all others in churchyard due to Jones's alleged suicide.

2. Pte Alfred Hook VC, won VC at Rorke's Drift. Born 6th August 1850 at Birdwood, Churcham, Glocs, died 12th March 1905 of consumption, buried in Churcham, St Andrew's parish church. Worked in British Museum as an inside duster, later promoted to umbrella attendant.

3. Pte William Jones VC , won VC at Rorke's Drift. Born 16th August 1839 in Bristol, died 15th April 1913, buried in Phillips Park Cemetery, Manchester. Pawned VC for £5 to feed his family then later sold pawn ticket. Just before death was found wandering the streets of Manchester under the illusion the Zulus were coming to get him. [Note that William Jones is not wearing his VC in the photo, due to the medal having been pawned.]

4. Pte David Bell VC, won VC at Little Andaman Islands, 7th May 1867 saving men from island inhabited by cannibals. Born 1845 Co Down Northern Ireland, died 7th March 1920, buried Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham. [Pte William Griffith VC, ot shown in this group, won his VC at the same situation, later killed 22nd Jan 1879 at Isandlwana.]

5. Col Browne won VC at Inhlobana, 29th March 1879 rescuing stranded Mounted infantrymen. Born 23rd Dec 1852, Cambridge, died 16th July 1907, buried Clarens Cemetery, Chemin de Munraz, Montreaux .

6. Pte Frederick Hitch VC, won VC at Rorke's Drift. Born 29th Nov 1856 Southgate, Middlesex, died 6th Jan 1913 of pneumonia and heart failure due to picket duty while on strike as a cabby after the Home Secretary (Winston Churchill) increased the price of petrol but did not allow fares to be increased at the time; Hitch is buried in Chiswick cemetery.

7. Pte John Fielding VC (aka John Williams), won VC at Rorke's Drift; joined the army as John Williams to avoid his father knowing of enlistment; born 24th May 1857 in Abergavenny, died 25th Nov 1932, buried Llantaman, Monmouthshire.

Graham Mason, AZW Researcher

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