The Gordons

Colonel William Eagleson Gordon VC CBE

W E Gordon was a captain when he accomplished the act of bravery for which he received the VC. On 11th July 1900, during the action near Leehoehoek (or Doomboschfontein near Krugersdorf) a party of men accompanied by Captains Younger and Allan succeeded in dragging an artillery wagon under cover when its horses were unable to do so because of the heavy and accurate fire of the enemy. Captain Gordon called for volunteers to go out with him to try and bring in one of the guns. He went out alone to the nearest gun under a heavy fire, and with the greatest coolness fastened the drag-rope to the gun. He beckoned to the men who immediately doubled out to join him. While moving the gun Captain Younger and 3 men, also of the 1st Battalion, were hit. Capt Gordon ordered the men to take cover to avoid further casualties. He saw the wounded taken to a place of safety and then retired himself. The recommendation added that '..his devotion on every occasion that his battalion has been under fire has been remarkable.' He received the VC from lord Kitchener at Pretoria, on Peace Thanksgiving Day, June 1902.

William Eagleson Gordon was born on 4th May 1866, the son of a doctor, at Homehill, Bridge-of-Allan, Stirlingshire. He joined the Militia, and on 6th June 1888 entered the 1st Battalion the Gordon Highlanders as a second lieutenant. He was with the Chitral Relief Force, taking part in the Malakand assault. He was promoted to captain on 19th June 1897 and 4 months later was storming the Heights of Dargai in the Tirah. He was appointed adjutant from 21st Jan 1899 to 20th Jan 1903.

In the Boer War he was severely wounded at Magersfontein and took part in the actions in the Orange Free State and at Paardeberg in 1901 where he was slightly wounded. He was involved in many more actions and was mentioned in despatches 3 times. He was promoted to Major in Jan 1907 and was brevet of Colonel when he was appointed ADC to the King on 9th Oct 1913.

In the First World War he was captured but released in 1916 as an exchange. From 15th Sep 1917 to 1920 he commanded no.1 (Midland) District, Scottish Command. He died in London on 10th March 1941. The portrait was painted while he was in captivity, adding the head from a photo to the dress uniform of the Gordon Highlanders, including his medals for service in India and South Africa. His VC is partially hidden under the gold cord aiguillettes which signify his appointment as ADC to the sovereign.

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by Stephen Luscombe