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1899, Battle of Colenso

SCHOFIELD, HARRY NORTON, Captain, was born on 29 January 1865, son of Christopher James Schofield, JP, Lancashire. He entered the Royal Artillery from the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, as Lieutenant, in February 1884, and became Captain in February 1893. Captain Schofield served in the South African War in 1899 and 1900, as Aide-de-Camp to General Sir Redvers Buller, VC, GCB, GCMG. He was present at the Relief of Ladysmith, including the action at Colenso; at the operations of 17 to 24 January 1900, and the action at Spion Kop. Operations of 5 to 7 February 1900, and action at Vaal Krantz; operations on Tugela Heights (14 to 27 February) and action at Pieter's Hill. Operations in Natal (March to June, 1900), including action at Laing's Nek (6 to 9 June). Operations in the Transvaal, East of Pretoria (July to October 1900), in­cluding the action at Belfast (26 and 27 August) and Lydenburg (5 to 8 September). At the Battle of Colenso General Buller had ordered Colonel Long to take two batteries of Field Artillery and six naval guns to support the main attack. The 14th and 66th Field Batteries were accompanied by six naval guns (two of 4.7-inch and four 12-pounders), under Lieutenant Ogilvy of the Terrible. At an early stage in the action, Long's field guns unlimbered within a thousand yards of the enemy's trenches. From this position he opened fire upon Fort Wylie, which was the centre of that portion of the Boer position which faced him. The two batteries were without shelter of any sort, and in full view of the strongly-entrenched and invisible enemy, and a fearful storm of bullets broke over them. After same time, owing to the ammunition running out, it was thought advisable to retire the officers and men to a small donga behind the guns, to which the wounded (including Colonel Long) had been taken. About 800 yards to the rear of the guns was a deep donga or nullah, in which the drivers and teams were taking cover; along this Captain Schofield was riding with Sir Redvers Buller, who expressed a wish to try and get some of the guns away; so Gerard (Lord Gerard) and Schofield rode their horses into the donga and got some men and two teams out. Congreve, Schofield and Roberts, three aides-de-camp of the Generals, were the leaders in this forlorn hope, the latter being the only son of Lord Roberts. As soon as the teams were hooked in to the limbers on the bank of the donga, Captain Schofield gave the order to gallop for the guns, and, as they got nearer, directed them on to the two on the right, as they appeared to be clear of dead horses. Corporal Nurse galloped out with Schofield, and Roberts joined them, and was galloping along on Captain Schofield's left. Congreve, after helping to hook a team in a limber, got his horse and came after them. On going about 400 yards, Roberts was shot and fell backwards. Congreve fell wounded when about 100 yards away from the guns, on reaching which Captain Schofield and Corporal Nurse jumped off their horses and hooked in the two guns, with which they returned. The drivers, Henry Taylor, Young, Petts, Rockall, Lucas and Williams, of the 66th Battery, all received the DCM for his services in this campaign Captain Schofield was mentioned in Despatches [London Gazette, 26 January 1900, and London Gazette, 8 February 1901 (Sir Redvers Buller, 30 March and 9 November 1900)]. He received the Queen's Medal with six clasps, and was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order [London Gazette, 19 April, 1901]: "Harry Norton Schofield, Major, Royal Artillery. In recognition of services during the recent campaign in South Africa". The award was cancelled nearly two years after the Battle of Colenso, when he was awarded the Victoria Cross instead of the DSO [London Gazette, 30 August 1901]: "The King has been graciously pleased to signify His intention to confer the decoration of the Victoria Cross upon the undermentioned Officer, whose claims have been submitted for His Majesty's approval, for his conspicuous bravery in South Africa, as stated against his name: Harry Norton Schofield, Captain, Royal Field Artillery. Date of Act of Bravery: at Colenso on the 15th December 1899. When the detachments serving the guns of the 14th and 66th Batteries, Royal Field Artillery, had all been killed, wounded or driven from them by infantry fire at close range, Captain Schofield went out when the first attempt was made to extricate the guns, and assisted in withdrawing the two that were saved. Note: In consequence of the above, the appointment of this Officer to the Distinguished Service Order, which was notified in the London Gazette of the 19th April, 1901, is cancelled". Captain Schofield was promoted to Major in 1900. Major Schofield retired in December 1905. He was one of His Majesty's Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms. Major Schofield was re-employed, 1914 to 1918, firstly on the British Remount Commission in Canada and America, and afterwards as Commandant on Lines of Communication, BEF. He was temporary Lieutenant Colonel, 1915 to 1918, and retired in 1918 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In June, 1917, he married Dorothy Evelyn Vere, eldest daughter of Arthur Charles Isham. Lieutenant Colonel Schofield died in London on 10 October 1931, aged 66. He was buried in Putney Vale Cemetery.

VC, reverse of suspension bar engraved (Captain H.N. Schofield, Royal Field Artillery)reverse centre of the cross dated '15th Decr 1899, QSA (6) CC TH OFS RofL LN Belf (Major DSO RA), 1914-15 STAR (Lt Col); 1902 Coronation, 1911 Coronation. Kaplan Jul 85. Sothebys Nov 1988. DNW Jul 93 £19,000.

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