|Major General The Honourable
Sir Neville Howse
VC, KCB, KCMG, MP
|Member of the Australian Parliament
16 December 1922 – 12 October 1929
|Preceded by||Thomas Lavelle|
|Succeeded by||George Gibbons|
26 October 1863|
Stogursey, Somerset, England
|Died||19 September 1930
|Resting place||Kensal Green Cemetery, London
|Political party||Nationalist Party of Australia|
|Children||Everil, Neville, Evelyn, John, Alison|
|Years of service||1900–1922|
|Commands||Director General of Medical Services
Australian Army Medical Corps
|Battles/wars||Second Boer War
First World War
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George
Knight of the Order of Saint John
Mentioned in Despatches
Major General Sir Neville Reginald Howse VC, KCB, KCMG, MP (26 October 1863 – 19 September 1930) was a British-born Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest decoration for gallantry "in the face of the enemy" that can be awarded to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces. He was the first soldier in the Australian services to be awarded the VC. He later served in the Australian Federal Government, and also as Minister of Defence and several other portfolios.
Born in Stogursey, Somerset, England, Howse was educated at Freelands School, Taunton. He then studied medicine at London Hospital, before migrating to New South Wales largely for health reasons, and established his first practice in Newcastle, and then another in Taree. After undertaking postgraduate work in England, Howse returned to Australia in 1899 and settled in Orange.
Howse served in the Second Boer War with the Second Contingent of the New South Wales Army Medical Corps, Australian Forces, arriving at East London, Eastern Cape, in February 1900 as a lieutenant.
On 24 July 1900, during the action at Vredefort, South Africa, Howse saw a trumpeter fall, and went through very heavy cross-fire to rescue the man. His horse was soon shot from under him, but he continued on foot, reached the casualty, dressed his wound, and then carried him to safety. For this action, Howse was awarded the Victoria Cross. The award was gazetted on 4 June 1901 and the original citation reads:
The King has been graciously pleased to signify His intention to confer the decoration of the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned Officers, Non-Commissioned Officer, and Soldier, for their conspicuous bravery in South Africa, as stated against their names :—
New South Wales Medical Staff Corps, Captain N. R. House [sic]
During the action at Vredefort on the 24 July 1900, Captain House went out under a heavy cross fire and picked up a wounded man, and carried him to a place of shelter.
He thus became the first recipient of the Victoria Cross serving in the Australian armed forces; his medal is on display at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. The Second Contingent left South Africa via Cape Town on 13 December 1900 on the S.S. Orient, however Howse had been invalided to Britain on 28 November 1900. Howse subsequently returned to Australia at the end of February 1901. Following the gazetting of his VC, Howse was presented with the medal in a ceremony at Victoria Barracks, Sydney on 4 December 1901. Also at the ceremony were Captain A. Heathcote and Sergeant J. Paton, prior recipients of the VC for actions during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, who had subsequently migrated to New South Wales.
Howse returned to South Africa as a major with the Australian Army Medical Corps (AAMC) in command of the Bearer Company, arriving at Durban in Natal on 17 March 1902. Following service in Natal, Orange River Colony and Western Transvaal (attached to Colonel A.W. Thornycroft's Mounted Infantry Column), at the conclusion of the war he became seriously ill. He was again invalided to Britain on 6 July 1902, with the remainder of the AAMC contingent departing for Australia on 8 July 1902. Howse eventually returned to Australia in November 1902.
In 1905 Howse married Evelyn Pilcher in Bathurst, and was twice elected to serve as mayor of the City of Orange. When the First World War began, Howse was appointed principal medical officer to the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force to German New Guinea, with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Following his time in New Guinea, he was appointed Assistant Director of Medical Services 1st Australian Division. During the Gallipoli Campaign he took charge of evacuating wounded men from the beach in the campaign’s opening days. In 1917 at the Dardanelles commission, he described the arrangements for dealing with wounded men at Gallipoli as inadequate to the point of 'criminal negligence'. He was Mentioned in Despatches for his service in this campaign.
In September 1915 he was given command of ANZAC medical services and in November became director of the AIF’s medical services, with the rank of surgeon-general. When the Australian Imperial Force moved to France, Howse took up a position in London, overseeing medical services in France, Egypt and Palestine. At the beginning of 1917 he was promoted to major general.
Howse was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the 1915 King's Birthday Honours, was promoted to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) on 22 January 1917, and appointed Knight of Grace of the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem and Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in 1919. From 1921 to 1925 he was Director-General of Medical Services.
He resigned from the army and won the federal seat of Calare for the Nationalist Party at the December 1922 election. He held several ministerial portfolios, including Defence, Health, and Home and Territories, but he was defeated at the October 1929 election. In February 1930, Howse travelled to England for medical treatment for cancer, but died on 19 September 1930, and is buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, London. His son, John Howse, was member for Calare from 1946 to 1960.
Honours and awards
|Victoria Cross (VC)||gazetted 1901|
|Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB)||gazetted 1917|
|Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB)||gazetted 1915|
|Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG)||gazetted 1919|
|Knight of Grace of the Order of St John||gazetted 1919|
|Queen's South Africa Medal||with 6 clasps: CAPE COLONY, JOHANNESBURG, DIAMOND HILL, WINTERBERGEN, SOUTH AFRICA 1901 and SOUTH AFRICA 1902|
|British War Medal|
|Victory Medal||with Oak Leaf for Mentioned in Despatches|
- Braga 2000, p83.
- Braga 2000, p34.
- Braga 2000, p53.
- The London Gazette: . 12 December 1905. Retrieved 1 July 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 4 June 1901. Retrieved 1 July 2008.
- Braga 2000, p59.
- Lindsay 2003, p52.
- Murray 1911, p16.
- "Shipping Records Dec 1900". Anglo Boer War.com. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
- Tyquin 1999, p24.
- "Shipping Records Jul 1902". Anglo Boer War.com. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 3 August 1915. Retrieved 1 July 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 7 December 1915. Retrieved 1 July 2008. Surgeon-general.
- Braga 2000, p240.
- The London Gazette: . 22 June 1915. Retrieved 1 July 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 23 January 1917. Retrieved 30 March 2009.
- The London Gazette: . 3 June 1919. Retrieved 1 July 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 6 June 1919. Retrieved 1 July 2008.
- "Members of the House of Representatives since 1901". Parliamentary Handbook. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
- "Howse VC". Digger history. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
- Braga 2000, p76.
- "First World War service record of Neville Reginald Howse". National Archives of Australia. p. 2. Retrieved 30 June 2009.
- Braga, Stuart (2000). ANZAC doctor: the life of Sir Neville Howse, Australia's first VC. Alexandria, NSW, Australia: Hale & Iremonger Pty Ltd. ISBN 978-0868066943.
- Harvey, David (1999). Monuments to Courage : Victoria Cross headstones and memorials. Vol.1, 1854–1916. K & K Patience. OCLC 59437297.
- Lindsay, Patrick (2003). The Spirit of the Digger – Then & Now. Macmillan, Sydney.
- Hill, A. J. (1967). "Howse, Sir Neville Reginald (1863–1930)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 16 November 2008.
- Murray, Lt. Col P.L. (1911). Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa 1899–1902. Melbourne: Albert J. Mullett, Government Printer. ISBN 978-1-921175-26-8.
- Serle, Percival (1949). "Howse, Neville Reginald". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson. Retrieved 27 October 2008.
- Tyquin, Michael B. (1999). Neville Howse: Australia's First Victoria Cross Winner. Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-551190-5.
- Tyquin, Michael B. (2003). Little by Little: a Centenary History of the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps. Loftus, NSW, Australia: Australian Military History Publications. ISBN 1-876439-15-7.
- The Register of the Victoria Cross (This England, 1997)
- Victoria Crosses of the Anglo-Boer War (Ian Uys, 2000)
- Who’s who in Australian Military History
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sir Neville Reginald Howse.|
- "The emerging office of the Surgeon General", Lieutenant Colonel Robert L Pearce, Australian Defence Force Health Journal, April 2002
- Biographical Notes by Ross Mallett on his AIF Order of Battle pages.
- Speech at launch of commemorative stamp issue by John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia in Orange, New South Wales, 23 July 2000.
- Australian Nurses in the Second Boer War – notes on the New South Wales Medical Corps in South Africa.
- Record on AIF Project database
|Minister for Defence
|Minister for Health
|Minister for Health
|Minister for Home and Territories
|Parliament of Australia|
|Member for Calare