10 November 2010

( select to enlarge )
Medal entitlement of Lieutenant Colonel William English,
2nd Scottish Horse, South African Forces

  • Victoria Cross
  • Queen's South Africa Medal ( 1899-1902 )
    • 5 clasps:
    • "Cape Colony" - "Orange Free State" - "Transvaal"
    • "South Africa 1901" - "South Africa 1902"
  • 1914 Star + clasp "5th Aug-22nd Nov 1914"
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 )
  • 1939 - 45 Star
  • Africa Star
  • War Medal ( 1939 - 45 )
  • King Edward VII Coronation Medal ( 1902 )
  • King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )
  • Merite Agcricole ( 4th Class ) ( France )

The Victoria Cross and campaign medals awarded to Lieutenant Colonel William English, 2nd Scottish Horse, have been acquired by the Michael Ashcroft Trust, the holding institution for Lord Ashcroft's VC Collection.

The Scottish Horse is unique in that it was originally raised, not in Scotland, but in South Africa. In 1900, the Caledonian Society of Johannesburg offered to form a corps under the name of the "Scottish Horse" to be recruited from Scotsmen in South Africa. In 1901 a regiment of four squadrons was raised under the command of the Marquis of Tullibardine, afterwards the Duke of Atholl. Later Lord Tullibardine, with the assistance of the Caledonian Society of Melbourne, Australia, and the Royal Highland Society of London, raised a second regiment, consisting of Scotsmen from home and Australians of Scottish descent.

For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 4 October 1901 ], Vlakfontein, South Africa, 2nd Boer War, 3 July 1901, Lieutenant William John English, 2nd Scottish Horse.

This Officer with five men was holding the right of a position at Vlakfontein on the 3rd July 1901, during an attack by the Boers. Two of his men were killed and two wounded, but the position was still held, largely owing to Lieutenant English’s personal pluck. When the ammunition ran short he went over to the next party and obtained more; to do this he had to cross some 15 yards of open ground under a heavy fire at a range of from 20 to 30 yards.

William English was invested with his Victoria Cross by the Prince of Wales ( future King George V ) on Horse Guards Parade on the 1st July 1902.

After the conclusion of the 2nd Boer War William English transferred to the Army Service Corps with whom he served throughout the First World War.

Upon the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, William English joined the Royal Ulster Rifles and was serving with this regiment when he died on board a ship at sea off Egypt on the 4th July 1941. Lieutenant Colonel William English was buried in the Maala Christian Cemetery in Aden, now the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, his grave being marked by a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone.


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Iain Stewart, 10 November 2010