Ernest Towse VC. Help with letters home. A reblog from 2014

War Office, July 6> 1900.
THE Queen has been graciously pleased to signify Her intention to confer the decoration of the
Victoria Cross on the undermentioned Officers, Non-Commissioned Officer, and Trooper whose
claims have been submitted for Her Majesty’s approval, for their conspicuous bravery in South Africa,
as stated against their names :=
Name. Acts of Courage for which recommended.
The Gordon Highlanders
The Royal Fusiliers
(City of London
10th Hussars

“On the llth 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
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.”

Well, that is it, a well deserved VC, poor guy lost both his eyes. That would have been the end of most people’s active lives. Not a lot you can do after that. Certainly, you would not expect to be able to do much in the Great War. However, Ernest Towse was a remarkable man.Being blind was not going to stop him doing his bit. 50 years old at the outbreak of the war Towse became an Honourary Staff Captain. (No pay or allowances) for base hospitals in Belgium and France. He was one of the first Welfare Officers and looked after the comfort and welfare of the wounded. As a result of their wounds, the soldiers were often unable to write. Towse took it upon himself to write letters home for them. Today as part of the centenary many people are researching letters sent home from the front by soldiers and these include typewritten letters from the wounded in the base hospitals. I wonder if these people know, or care, that a lot of these letters were written and typed by a blind 50 plus VC winner from a long forgotten war?


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