About Charles FitzClarence
Brigadier General Charles FitzClarence VC (8 May 1865 – 2 November 1914) was an Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Charles FitzClarence was born in County Kildare, the son of Captain George FitzClarence (15 April 1836 – 24 March 1894) and Maria Henrietta Scott (d. 27 July 1912). He had a twin brother named Edward. His paternal grandfather was George Augustus Frederick FitzClarence, 1st Earl of Munster, an illegitimate son of William, Duke of Clarence (later King William IV of the United Kingdom). He served in the Sudan during the Mahdist War.
FitzClarence was 34 years old, and a captain in The Royal Fusiliers, British Army during the Second Boer War when the following deeds took place for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross:
On the 14th October, 1899, Captain FitzClarence went with his squadron of the Protectorate Regiment, consisting of only partially trained men, who had never been in action, to the assistance of an armoured train which had gone out from Mafeking. The enemy were in greatly superior numbers, and the squadron was for a time surrounded, and it looked as if nothing could save them from being shot down. Captain FitzClarence, however, by his personal coolness and courage inspired the greatest confidence in his men, and, by his bold and efficient handling of them, not only succeeded in relieving the armoured train, but inflicted a heavy defeat on the Boers, who lost 50 killed and a large number wounded, his own losses being 2 killed and 15 wounded. The moral effect of this blow had a very important bearing on subsequent encounters with the Boers.
On the 27th October, 1899, Captain FitzClarence led his squadron from Mafeking across the open, and made a night attack with the bayonet on one of the enemy's trenches. A hand-to-hand fight took place in the trench, while a heavy fire was concentrated on it from the rear. The enemy was driven out with heavy loss. Captain FitzClarence was the first man into the position and accounted for four of the enemy with his sword. The British lost 6 killed and 9 wounded. Captain FitzClarence was himself slightly wounded. With reference to these two actions, Major-General Baden-Powell states that had this Officer not shown an extraordinary spirit and fearlessness the attacks would have been failures, and we should have suffered heavy loss both in men and prestige.
On the 26th December, 1899, during the action at Game Tree, near Mafeking, Captain FitzClarence again distinguished himself by his coolness and courage, and was again wounded (severely through both legs).
He was transferred to the Irish Guards on that regiment's formation in October 1900. He became a Major in May 1904 and succeeded to the command of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards in July 1909. He later achieved the rank of Brigadier General. He was killed in action, aged 49, at Polygon Wood, Zonnebeke, Belgium, on 12 November 1914 whilst commanding the 1st Guards Brigade.
He is the highest ranking officer inscribed on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, commemorating those with no known grave. His VC is in the Lord Ashcroft VC Gallery in the Imperial War Museum, London.
He married Violet Spencer-Churchill (13 June 1864 – 22 December 1941), daughter of Lord Alfred Spencer-Churchill and a granddaughter of the sixth Duke of Marlborough, on 20 April 1898. The couple had two children:
Edward Charles Fitzclarence, 6th Earl of Munster (b. 3 October 1899 - d. 1983)
Joan Harriet Fitzclarence (b. 23 December 1901)
Brigadier General Charles FitzClarence VC's Timeline
May 8, 1865
October 3, 1899
November 12, 1914