Beachcroft Towse

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Sir Ernest Beachcroft Towse
Beachcroft Towse VC.jpg
Born 23 April 1864
Westminster, London
Died 21 June 1948 (aged 84)
Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
Buried St Thomas of Canterbury Churchyard, Goring
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1885 - 1900
Rank Captain
Unit The Gordon Highlanders
Battles/wars Chitral Expedition
Tirah Campaign
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.


Towse was 35 years old, and a captain in the 1st Battalion, The Gordon Highlanders, British Army during the Second Boer War when the following deeds led to the award of the Victoria Cross:

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.[1]

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.[citation needed]

Further information[edit]

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.[2] 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[3] 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,[4] which enabled them to start making soap. Towse's sister, Beatrice Julia Beckwith Towse, was a committee member of the Disabled Officers (sic) Garden Homes (formerly Ex-Officers Direct Supply Association) organisation; she lived with him after his injury.[5]

He was a Vice Patron of St Dunstan's (now Blind Veterans UK) from 1946 until his death in 1948.

The medal[edit]

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen, Scotland.

Medal Entitlement[edit]

UK Victoria Cross ribbon bar.svg
Royal Victorian Order UK ribbon.png UK OBE 1917 civil BAR.svg Order of St John (UK) ribbon.png India Medal BAR.svg
Queens South Africa Medal BAR.svg 1914 Star BAR.svg British War Medal BAR.svg Victory Medal MID ribbon bar.svg
King Edward VII Coronation Medal (Military) ribbon.png King George V Coronation Medal ribbon.png GeorgeVSilverJubileum-ribbon.png GeorgeVICoronationRibbon.png

Ribbon Description Notes
UK Victoria Cross ribbon bar.svg Victoria Cross (VC) 6 July 1900
Royal Victorian Order UK ribbon.png Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) 1927
UK OBE 1917 civil BAR.svg Order of the British Empire (CBE) Civil Division - 1920
Order of St John (UK) ribbon.png Venerable Order of St John (K.StJ) 1916
India Medal BAR.svg India Medal 3 Clasps
  • Relief of Chitral 1895
  • Punjab Frontier 1897-98
  • Tirah 1897-98
Queens South Africa Medal BAR.svg Queen's South Africa Medal 3 Clasps
1914 Star BAR.svg 1914-15 Star
British War Medal BAR.svg British War Medal
Victory Medal MID ribbon bar.svg World War I Victory Medal With Mentioned in dispatches Oakleaf
King Edward VII Coronation Medal (Military) ribbon.png King Edward VII Coronation Medal 1902 - Military Version of this Medal
King George V Coronation Medal ribbon.png King George V Coronation Medal 1911 - Military Version of this Medal
GeorgeVSilverJubileum-ribbon.png King George V Silver Jubilee Medal 1935
GeorgeVICoronationRibbon.png King George VI Coronation Medal 1937

Source: [6][7]


  1. ^ "No. 27208". The London Gazette. 6 July 1900. p. 4196. 
  2. ^ "No. 27405". The London Gazette. 11 February 1902. p. 847. 
  3. ^ BWBF website
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 April 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2011. 
  5. ^ Wounded in War they would work in Peace- A History of the DOGH Macdonnell Gardens, Sqn Ldr Brian R. F. Relf, R.A.F., pg 9
  6. ^ List of Captain Sir Beachcroft Towse' Medals
  7. ^ Photo of Captain Sir Beachcroft Towse' Medals

External links[edit]