Personal info

  • Name: George Albert RAVENHILL
  • D.O.B: 23rd February, 1872
  • D.O.A: 15th December, 1899
  • D.O.D: 14th April, 1921
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Private, 2nd Battalion The Royal Scots Fusiliers

Colenso, Natal, South Africa 15 December 1899

15 December 1899

More details about:
The Second Boer War 1899 - 1902 

In an effort to relieve Ladysmith, on 15 December 1899 Sir Redvers Buller VC, with over 15,000 troops and 44 guns, sought to cross the Tugela river at Colenso and march on the besieged town from the south. His way was blocked by Louis Botha and 4,000 Boers with five guns, not only in trenches on the far side of the river but, unknown to Buller, on Hlangwane mountain on his right flank. The attack failed. On the left flank, Major General Hart and the Irish Brigade were soon pinned down, while in the centre Lieutenant General Hildyard and Major General Barton fared little better. Buller decided on withdrawal. The twelve field guns and six naval guns, commanded by Colonel C J Long, were dangerously exposed, many of the gunners being forced to retire to a donga (a narrow, steep-sided gully) for shelter. Lieutenant Ogilvy RN succeeded in bringing the naval guns back and Buller was loath to abandon the field guns. Captains H N Schofield and W N Congreve, and Lieutenant F H S Roberts (the son of Lord Roberts VC) were ordered to help retrieve them. They succeeded in limbering up one gun. Schofield then helped remove another gun. In this, they were assisted by Private G A Ravenhill of the 2nd Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers and Corporal G E Nurse of the 66th Battery RFA. Lieutenant Roberts, meanwhile, had been seriously wounded and Congreve, though himself shot in the leg, went out with Major W Babtie of the RAMC to rescue him. Unfortunately, Roberts died of his wounds two days later. Babtie had already distinguished himself by tending to wounded artillerymen under heavy fire. Only the two guns were saved, though a gallant attempt was made by Captain H L Reed of the 7th Battery, RFA, to retrieve others. The battle cost the British over 1,000 casualties as against 40 suffered by the Boers.

Citation

 At Colenso, on the 15th December, 1899, Private Ravenhill went several times, under a heavy fire, from his sheltered position as one of the escort to the guns, to assist the officers and drivers who were trying to withdraw the guns of the 14th and 66th Batteries, Royal Field Artillery, when the detachments serving them had all been killed, wounded, or driven from them by infantry fire at close range, and helped to limber up one of the guns that were saved. 

The London Gazette of 4 June 1901, Numb. 27320, p. 3769

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