Personal info

  • Name: John Fitzhardinge Paul BUTLER
  • D.O.B: 20th December, 1888
  • D.O.A: 27th December, 1914
  • D.O.D: 5th September, 1916
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Lieutenant, 2nd Battalion The King’s Royal Rifle Corps, attached to Pioneer Company, Gold Coast Regiment, West African Field Force

Near Lisoka, The Cameroons, 17 November 1914; near Nkongsamba, The Cameroons 27 December 1914

17 November and 27 December 1914

More details about:
The First World War 1914 

Germany had annexed the Cameroons in 1884 together with Togoland and what became German South-West Africa (modern Namibia). However British naval supremacy meant that unless Germany succeeded in winning the war in Europe in a matter of weeks, as it hoped to do, its colonies in West Africa and elsewhere were highly vulnerable. There were only 1,000 German troops and 3,000 African soldiers to defend the Cameroons against the three allied powers, Britain, France and Belgium, which had colonies bordering the German territory. A Franco-Belgian force captured Douala, the capital, on 27 September 1914. In November two British columns set out for Buea on the slopes of Cameroon Mountain, between Douala and the Nigerian border. This was captured by Brigadier General E H Gorges on the 15th. Meanwhile Lieutenant Colonel R A de B Rose was approaching from Ekona to the northwest and arrived the following day. He left behind Lieutenant J F P Butler and a small force to search for German troops. On the 17th Butler surprised a German detachment near Lisoka, between Ekona and Buea, and though greatly outnumbered caused them to retreat by shouting orders to imaginary troops. The following month, during General Gorges’ advance from Nkongsamba to Dschang, Butler was sent out with a patrol to disperse German forces that were harassing the British and, under fire, swam an unfordable river to reconnoitre the position. As Butler rejoined the main column on 26 December, the date given for this second action in his Citation may be incorrect. The Germans held on throughout 1915 and Jaunde (Yaoundé), the second town in the country, did not fall until 1 January 1916. The last German troops in the Cameroons surrendered in February 1916.

Citation

 For most conspicuous bravery in the Cameroons, West Africa. On 17th November, 1914, with a party of 13 men, he went into the thick bush and at once attacked the enemy, in strength about 100, including several Europeans, defeated them, and captured their machine-gun and many loads of ammunition. On 27th December, 1914, when on patrol duty, with a few men, he swam the Ekam River, which was held by the enemy, alone and in the face of a brisk fire, completed his reconnaissance on the further bank, and returned in safety. Two of his men were wounded while he was actually in the water. 

Third Supplement to The London Gazette of 20 August 1915. 23 August 1915, Numb. 29272, p. 8373

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