23rd February 2000

The 23rd February 2000 finally saw a fitting headstone erected over the grave of Albert Edward Curtis VC after some 60 years of being unmarked. Dave Tomlins, an ex-member of the London Scottish Regiment and a member of the United Services Club in Finchley had been looking for the grave of Albert Curtis for some four years before finally locating the plot in a run down part of Bells Burial Ground, Chipping Barnet, Hertfordshire. The Burial Ground records show that Annie Curtis had also been buried in the same plot and it is a mystery why there was no headstone to mark the grave.

Mr. Tomlins approached the Regimental Headquarters of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, which incorporates Curtis's old regiment The East Surreys, and also contacted Yeoman Warders at the Tower of London for support in placing a suitable headstone on the grave. Following his army service, Albert Curtis became a Yeoman Warder in the Tower of London on the 30th May 1910, aged 44. As a Yeoman Warder he lived with his wife Annie in accommodation in the Martin Tower and retired to the Supernumerary List on 1st November 1931. He died on 18th March 1940.

Personnel attending the ceremony included:

  • Major General G.W. Field CB, OBE, Resident Governor of the Tower of London;
  • Field Marshal the Lord Inge GCB, Constable of the Tower of London;
  • Lieutenant Colonel Eric Wilson VC;
  • Colonel Stuart Archer GC, Chairman of the VC & GC Association;
  • Colonel A.C. Mieville OBE, Deputy Colonel, The East Surrey Regiment;
  • East Finchley Branch of the Royal British Legion;
  • Members of the Curtis family.

Private Albert Curtis was born on 6th January 1866 at Guildford, Surrey. He began his military career in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders but some time during 1893 transferred to the East Surrey Regiment.

For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 15 January 1901 ]. Onderbank Spruit, South Africa, 23 February 1900, Private Albert Edward Curtis, 2nd Bn, East Surrey Regiment.

At Onderbank Spruit on 23rd February 1900, Colonel R Harris was severely wounded and lay during the whole day in an exposed position and under heavy fire from Boers posted behind a breastwork at short range. The Boers fired at anyone who gave any sign of life and Colonel Harris was hit eight or nine times. Private Curtis made several ineffectual attempts to reach the wounded officer and at last succeeded in doing so.

Notwithstanding the fire directed upon him, Private Curtis attended the Colonel's wounds, gave him a drink from his flask and endeavoured to carry him to shelter. Finding that he was not equal to the task, he called for help upon which Private Morton immediately dashed out and in spite of the Colonel's entreaties to them to leave him and not risk their lives, the two men succeeded in carrying him to cover.

Albert Curtis was invested with his Victoria Cross by HRH The Duke of York ( the future King George V ) at Pietermaritzburg on the 14th August 1901.

( select to enlarge )

Medal entitlement of Sergeant Albert Curtis,
2nd Bn, East Surrey

  • Victoria Cross
  • Queen's South Africa Medal ( 1899-1902 )
    • 5 clasps:
    • "Tugela Heights" - "Orange Free State"
    • "Relief of Ladysmith" - "Transvaal" - "Laing's Nek"
  • King's South Africa Medal ( 1901-02 )
    • 2 clasps:
    • "South Africa 1901" - "South Africa 1902"
  • King George V Coronation Medal ( 1911 )
  • King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )


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Iain Stewart, 14 April 2000