The Gordons

Captain Ernest Beachcroft Towse VC CBE KCVO

Captain Towse won the Victoria Cross for two separate actions during the Boer War. On 11th Dec 1899 at the battle of Magersfontein he displayed gallantry and devotion in assisting his CO, Lieut-Col Downman when he was mortally wounded. He tried to carry him on his back whilst under fire but this proved to be impossible so he supported him until help arrived. He was aided by Colour Sergeant Nelson and Lance-Corporal Hodgson. Again, on 30th April 1900 on Mount Thaba, Captain Towse and 12 men fought off 150 Boers. They demanded that the highlanders surrender but Towse ordered his men to fire and at one point to charge the enemy. Eventually the Boers retired down the hill but not before a bullet blinded the Captain. He never recovered his sight.

Ernest Beachcroft Beckwith Towse was born on 23rd April 1864 at Regents Park in London, and educated at Wellington. On 10th Dec 1885 he entered the army as a second lieutenant in the Wiltshire Regiment but exchanged to the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders on 2nd Jan 1886. He served in the Chitral Relief Force, taking part in the action at Malakand. He also stormed the heights at Dargai in the Tirah Campaign.

The Queen presented his VC to him and made him Sergeant-at-Arms in 1900. King Edward VII reappointed him in 1902, and in 1903 he was admitted to the Honorary Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms in which he served until 1939. He was also a Knight of Grace of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. When the First World War broke out he volunteered his services as a typist, writing letters for wounded soldiers at the front. He was mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig's despatch in June 1916. In 1915 he was promoted Staff Captain of Base Hospitals without pay and allowances.

He became chairman of the Grand Council of the Comrades of the Great War, and in 1921 accompanied Earl Haig to South Africa to form an Empire League of ex-servicemen. After this he was knighted KCVO. He lived at Goring-on-Thames in Berkshire and died there on 21st June 1948 aged 84.

Regimental details | Soldiers


Armed Forces | Art and Culture | Articles | Biographies | Colonies | Discussion | Glossary | Home | Library | Links | Map Room | Sources and Media | Science and Technology | Search | Student Zone | Timelines | TV & Film | Wargames | British Empire on Ebay

by Stephen Luscombe