Lieutenant William Hope VC

William Hope was born in Edinburgh on 12th April 1834, the son of the Right Honourable John Hope, Lord Chief Justice Clerk of Scotland. He went to Trinity College, Cambridge. At the age of 21 he was fighting in the Crimean War and took part in the fateful attack on the Redan outside the walls of Sebastopol on 18th June 1855. He went to the assistance of the adjutant who was lying outside the trenches badly wounded. It was impossible to move him despite having 4 men to help him, so he ran back across open ground, under heavy fire, and found a stretcher which he brought back to bring in the wounded officer. He was gazetted for the VC on 5th May 1857. In his history of the Royal Fusiliers, Michael Foss writes of 'Lieutenant Hope and a party of Fusiliers volunteering to throw wet blankets on a blazing magazine filled with 160 tons of explosive.' But there is no mention of this in Hope's official citation for his VC.

Hope reached the rank of Colonel and later invented the shrapnell shell for rifled guns. He was a keen supporter of the volunteer movement and commanded the 1st City of London Artillery Volunteers. After leaving the army he was involved in business ventures. With William Napier he proposed a scheme to convey sewage from the northern outfall of Joseph Bazelgette's London sewer system some 44-miles across Essex to reclaim 20,000 acres of land from Dengie Flats and a similar area from Maplin Sands, off the shore of Foulness Island. The estimated cost of the project was #2.1 million, and although work started in 1865, a crisis in the banking system, when the Overend Gurney bank failed, made it difficult to obtain finance, and the scheme foundered. He died in Chelsea on 17th Dec 1909 and was buried in the family plot in Brompton Cemetery, London.

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by Stephen Luscombe