Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rorke's Drift hero to get replacement Victoria Cross?

Private F (Frederick) Hitch, one of the heroes of Rorke's Drift in 1879, lost his VC under perculiar circumstances a little over seven years ago. He has now received an intimation from the War Office that a new cross would be sent to him. Private hitch told an "Express" representative the curious story of his VC and of his long and unavailing search for it.
"I got my cross when I was invalided home after Rorke's drift," he said.
"The late queen came and pinned it on my breast when I was in Netley Hospital and I valued it more than anything I had.
"Some time after I left the Army I entered the service of the United Service Institution. Soon after I went there I put my knee-cap out and had to be taken off to the hospital. I hadn't my coat on at the time and my cross was sewn on it.
"As soon as I was conscious I remembered, and sent for my coat. It was too late - the cross had been cut off. Of course, I told the authorities, and they informed Scotland Yard. I told Colonel Holden that I held the Institution responsible for the loss, and in the end matters got so unpleasant that I had to leave.
"I kept on worrying them, though, and after a long time Colonel Holden offerred to replace my VC with a dummy one out of the Institution. I wasn't going to be put off with that, though. The loss was bad enough, but what was worse was an idea some people had that I disposed of my VC for money.
"I have never stopped hunting for a clue to the whereabouts of my own cross, or asking the Army Council to grant me a new one. Lately some of the officers of my old regiment, the 24th Foot, now the 2nd South Wales Borderers, have taken the matter up.
"I had to sign a paper promising to give the new cross up if I ever found my old one, but I didn't mind doing that. Every Victoria Cross has its owner's name, regimental number, and the name of the engagement for which it was given engraved on the back, so whoever has got my old VC can't show it about much."

Eastern Province Herald - October 23, 1908

I wonder if his VC ever came to light. Any body know anything about it? After leaving the Army Fitch held the position of one of the Right of the Line Corps of Commissionaires at the Imperial Institute. He later drove a cab in London, owning two horses for the purpose.
Read more at: http://africanadrenalin.co.za/IsibindiAfrica/rorkes_drift.htm

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