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My Local Hero of the Boer War
This is a biographical tribute to Harry Crandon, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for rescuing a comrade from heavy enemy fire during the Boer War in 1901. After his military career he settled in my home city and is buried here. Summarizes the war to put the action in perspective and briefly explains how the Victoria Cross was established.
Tensions between the two independent Boer republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State and British interests in South Africa had built up for years until diplomacy finally broke down. In early October 1899, the 1st Army was mobilized in England. On October 11, 1899, Boer commandos invaded British territory; laying siege to the garrison towns of Kimberley and Maffekin in Cape Colony, and Ladysmith in Natal.
Cavalry commandos fighting on the home soil, in some cases comprising three generations of the same family, the Boers were a formidable enemy. Armed with well-equipped firearms and smokeless ammunition, and camouflaged in the drab colors of their plain peasant clothes, skilled Boer sharpshooters knew how to conceal themselves in rocky terrain and snipe from long range, as the British scrambled in style on the parade grounds. way across the open grassland. Then rode off the scene with great skill before the British could respond effectively.
The British relief forces parted ways during which they encountered in mid-December at Magersfontein and Stormberg on the Cape of Good Hope and Colenso in Natal Three serious setbacks, which came to be known as “Black Week”. On February 24, 1900, as the Natal Field Force fought its way north, they suffered their worst defeat of the campaign at the infamous Battle of Spienkop before reaching Ladysmith four days later. Around the same time, the Kimberley was retaken under Cecil Rhodes, and on 17 May 1900 under Robert Baden-Powell, the later established The rescue of Mafeking, the world-famous Boy Scout movement, sparks imperial hysteria in feverish Britain.
Eventually Lord Roberts took over command, and Lord Roberts’ son died in action when Colenso won the posthumous Victoria Cross. His experience turned the tide, and on June 5, 1900, British troops entered the Boer capital of Pretoria. The British then launched a campaign, mainly in the eastern Transvaal, to track down the Boer commanders, while the Boers resorted to guerrilla tactics, attacking isolated outposts, supply convoys and patrols.
In October 1900, Herbert Kitchener took office to counter the Boer strategy by dividing the country into fenced areas, guarded by pillboxes. Under his “scorched earth” policy, the farms of the hostile Boers were burned to reduce their chances of refuge. Their families were housed in secure compounds that would later become notorious as concentration camps with high death rates. Not surprisingly, the Boers began to become discouraged, but sporadic fighting by the Bitters continued to keep British troops on their toes. On May 31, 1902, a peace treaty was signed at the Lord Kitchener’s dinner table in Vereeniging, officially ending hostilities.
A young Liberal MP named David Lloyd George became famous for his anti-war rhetoric, while a young journalist named Winston Churchill made him “quite famous” for his audacity. Seventy-eight Victoria Crosses were awarded for the campaign, one of which went to Harry Crandon.
Henry George Crandon was born on 12 February 1874 in Wells, Somerset, England, to William Crandon and his wife Helen son (formerly Hewlett).
He joined the 18th Hussars in 1893 and served in India from 1894 to 1898 before traveling to South Africa. He was stationed at Ladysmith with the British garrison at the start of the Boer War, and he defended the town until it was liberated by General Buller’s Natal Field Force on 27 February 1900.
British troops occupy Pretoria on 5 June 1900 and Private Crandon at Springbok-Laagt, east of Pretoria, on 4 July 1901 Advance through hostile countries of the United Kingdom and become part of a British patrol. He was working as an advance scout with a companion when a Boer commando force of 40 rifles opened fire on them within 100 yards. He and his fellow soldier, Private Berry, began to back up to report the incident to the unit, but Private Berry was shot in the hand and shoulder and injured his horse as he fell to the ground. Private Crandon rode back to support him, raining enemy bullets on him, dismounted, helped the wounded man into his saddle, and led them on foot about 1,000 yards until they were out of range. He returned defensive fire until the main force arrived to assist them.
On 18 October 1901, the London Gazette announced the award of the Victoria Cross to Private Crandon, whom he received from Lord Kitchener on 8 June 1902 in Pretoria. He was also awarded a Queen’s Medal with five buckles for service in South Africa.
After his discharge from the army he settled in Swindon, near Manchester, now part of the city of Salford, and found work on Sir Lee Knowles’ estate. He was part of the guard of honor when King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra visited Salford in 1905 and was seen in the royal carriage when they unveiled the Boer War Memorial near Salford Royal Hospital in front of them. Shortly thereafter, he immigrated to the United States.
When World War I began, he returned to the army and in October 1914 joined his old regiment in South Africa. On May 13, 1915, he was wounded in his left foot during the First Battle of Ypres, after recovery he served two years in South Africa in the Balkans, Thessaloniki, Egypt and Palestine.
After retiring from the service in 1919, he returned to settle in Swindon. He attended a VC party hosted by the Prince of Wales in the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords on 9 November 1929. On June 8, 1946, he was one of 150 venture capitalists invited to a special dinner at the Dorchester Hotel. In November 1948, he paid tribute to the drummers of the Royal British Legion at the Swindon Cenotaph. However, shortly thereafter, he was involved in a car accident that left him with two broken legs and facial injuries and spent several months in hospital.
Harry Crandon died on 2 January 1953 at his home at 39 Kingsley Road, Swindon, aged 71, and is buried in the Church of England section of Swindon Cemetery. His medal belonged to the 13th/18th Hussars (now the Light Dragoons). There is a headstone next to his grave and the Royal Legion Housing Society named Crandon Court in Pendlebury in his honor.
Victoria Cross awarded: “For extraordinary courage and devotion to the country in the face of the enemy”. It was established by Queen Victoria’s Royal Warrant at the end of the Crimean War in 1856, and those who fought in that battle became the first recipients.
Queen Victoria took a keen interest in the design of the awards and medals, as did the Duke of Newcastle in his capacity as Secretary of War. Prince Albert suggested that the name be named after Victoria, the original motto was “for the brave”, but Victoria felt that this would lead to the inference that only those who received the cross were considered brave. Be brave and decide that “For Valor” is more appropriate. The design isn’t particularly flashy, nor is it high metal value. All the medals were struck by Hancock in London, using bronze from guns taken from the Chinese by the Russian Army and from the Russians by the British at Sevastopol. Military rank, long service or injury has no special effect on who is eligible for the award. The first announcement of the winners was published in the London Gazette on 24th February 1857 62 Crimean veterans received their medals from the Queen herself on 26th June 1857 Held in Hyde Park, London. Its original annual pension was £10, which was changed to £100 in 1959 and raised to £1,000 in 1995.
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