|Sir Ernest Beachcroft Beckwith Towse
VC KCVO CBE
|Born||23 April 1864
|Died||21 June 1948 (aged 84)
|Buried at||St Thomas of Canterbury Churchyard, Goring|
|Years of service||1885 - 1900|
|Unit||The Gordon Highlanders|
Second Boer War
World War I
|Other work||Patron of blind and military charities|
Sir Ernest Beachcroft Beckwith Towse VC KCVO CBE (23 April 1864 – 21 June 1948) 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.
On the 11th December, 1899, at the action of Majesfontein, Captain Towse was brought to notice by his Commanding Officer for his gallantry and devotion in assisting the late Colonel Downman, when mortally wounded, in the retirement, and endeavouring, when close up to the front of the firing line, to carry Colonel Downman on his back; but finding this not possible, Captain Towse supported him till joined by Colour-Sergeant Nelson and Lance-Corporal Hodgson.
On the 30th April, 1900, Captain Towse, with twelve men, took up a position on the top of Mount Thaba, far away from support. A force of about 150 Boers attempted to seize the same plateau, neither party appearing to see the other until they were but 100 yards apart. Some of the Boers then got within 40 yards of Captain Towse and his party, and called on him to surrender. He at once caused his men to open fire and remained firing himself until severely wounded (both eyes shattered), succeeding in driving off the Boers. The gallantry of this Officer in vigorously attacking the enemy (for he not only fired, but charged forward) saved the situation, notwithstanding the numerical superiority of the Boers.
Queen Victoria, it is said, shed tears when pinning the decoration. Possibly at her instance, The War Office awarded Towse with a special wounds pension of £300 a year.
He had previously distinguished himself with the Chitral Expedition in 1895, and in the Tirah Campaign on the North-West Frontier of India in 1898. He retired from the army in February 1902. His VC action left him blind and he spend much of the rest of his life in work with the blind. He served in the First World War as a staff officer working with the wounded in hospital. Towse was chairman of the British and Foreign Blind Association and in 1940 gave his house as its first rehabilitation centre. He also founded the British Wireless For The Blind Fund in 1929 and was a trustee of The Association for Promoting the General Welfare of the Blind (GWB, now known as CLARITY - Employment for Blind People). He provide GWB a grant of £500, which enabled them to start making soap.
His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen, Scotland.
- Monuments to Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
- The Register of the Victoria Cross (This England, 1997)
- Scotland's Forgotten Valour (Graham Ross, 1995)
- Victoria Crosses of the Anglo-Boer War (Ian Uys, 2000)